intro to series…Higher Education PR, by Brian Camen

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Prior to joining Weber Shandwick this month, I worked in higher education PR for two years. I would often get questions from outsiders about what I did. Since some people don’t understand, I thought I would provide an overview of what a higher Ed PR practitioner does. Please remember, this is a general overview and everyone’s position is different. So here’s a run down:

  • Media Relations: Higher education institutions often provide faculty expert sources for the media. Students have newsworthy initiatives going on. How does your institution compare with the latest enrollment trends? Whether it’s fulfilling a request or pitching, Media relations can be a large part of a pros job. Developing relationships with higher Ed reporters is key.
  • Monitoring: Monitor articles that were published and monitor breaking news. Monitoring breaking news falls under media relations, one thing leads to another. As a PR pro, you need to be in front of the news so you can leverage your professor or school’s expertise and provide sources for the media. Have multiple experts available that can talk about different angles on the same topic, why not create a media tip sheet?
  • Crisis CommunicationSwine FluDeath on campusShooting? The PR pro should play a large part in your institutions emergency response management team. You hope none of the above ever happens, but you must be prepared.
  • Media Training: Sure your professor can speak academic, but can they (or you) translate their work and apply it to current events?
  • Internal and external writing: Writing is a part of a PR pros job. Press releases, internal newsletters, magazines, editorials, HR communications, web articles, rankings communications and byline articles are samples of the type of writing. You may also have to write fundraising letters and grants depending on your position.
  • Social Media: You may be asked to create and maintain a strategic social media plan for your institution.

Depending on the institution and budget, you may have marketing or event responsibilities as well. Every day brings on a new task. Higher Ed PR is rewarding. Higher Ed pros don’t put out fluff or spam (most don’t). They help promote thought leadership. And that is one of my favorite things about higher Ed PR.

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