PR on Campus: Is your college or university missing out on good press coverage?   

By Nicole Giambusso

Nicole Giambusso, O'Neill and AssociatesHigher education public relations professionals are a bit like reporters themselves. The campus is their beat and they are tasked with knowing what’s happening throughout it. These PR professionals may be “pitched” by some faculty members with work that needs promoting, but rarely hear from others.

Without proactive strategies for engaging a range of faculty in public relations efforts, PR teams can miss newsworthy class projects and achievements because those involved are less inclined to look for the news angle and alert the press office.

Below are steps that PR professionals at higher education institutions can take to bring professors and faculty across campus into the communications fold, building a network that helps to identify, create and publicize good news.

  • Let people know you’re there and listening

College and university PR professionals can benefit from sending a simple message in person: we are here and we want to promote the good work of you and your students. Conduct an annual or bi-annual presentation to faculty – whether at a faculty symposium or at departmental meetings – that walks through the different types of news stories, photo ops and expert source pitches that have news value, and encourage faculty to reach out to you.

  • Start a blog and be active on social media

A call for story ideas might result in suggestions from your colleagues that do not work for a news pitch. However, these topics could be valuable for campus blog posts, website updates and social media content. These online channels are a good way for you to begin working with faculty to promote their work, and it may further develop their sense of what makes a good news hook.

  • Check in

You may inspire your colleagues to look for the news angles in their work, but the thought could understandably fall off their radar as semester demands pile up. You should check in with colleagues regularly about what they are working on and update them on your own efforts. You are essentially building a network that will help you keep your finger on the pulse of activities across campus.

  • Promote good news coverage

Ensure that good news coverage is cross-promoted on campus: on bulletins and in newsletters, on the website, on social media and more. Doing so helps show your full appreciation to those who took part in a news story and encourages them to stay engaged, while also boosting the morale of others within the campus community. All good press coverage should be brought full circle with promotion internally and to other key audiences.

No higher education PR professional wants to learn of a great on-campus photo-op weeks after it happens. Proactive outreach and relationship building on campus can help prevent this from occurring. Your goal is to promote your college to the media and surrounding community –that starts with promoting your efforts to those on campus.

Nicole Giambusso is a director within O’Neill and Associates’ communications practice. She has developed and executed strategic public relations campaigns on behalf of numerous colleges and universities across New England. To learn more about O’Neill and Associates’ higher education expertise, click here.