Dear Colleagues:

Colleges and universities pop up on our radar screens for a variety of reasons. For some, it's about hiring. For others, it's about finding the right choice for your high schooler, or about an ongoing relationship with an alumni community. Colleges are a source for R&D, expert sources for business consulting, news commentators, and speakers.


So, how do we know which university to approach? How do we perceive them and thus assess with which to affiliate?


That's where a university's public relations department comes in. They have the job of promoting and building their respective university's reputation. For each university there is a distinct message strategy, desired outcome and array of spokespeople.


In this issue of Marketing Coach I have interviewed PR executives from three universities: one public, one private and one online for-profit to find the commonalties and unique aspects of their PR approaches.



In This Issue
Promoting a Public University: UC Berkeley
A Private University Perspective: Georgetown University
Communicating Online and Off: Kaplan University

Overall, ongoing media relations contribute to a reputation of excellence that allows us to continue to attract high quality students and faculty."

- Claire Holmes, UC Berkeley

The News of Higher Education

higher education 3

Promoting a Public University: UC Berkeley

"The reason this (Public Affairs) department exists is to promote the university and talk about our excellence in teaching, learning and research," said Claire Holmes, Associate Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs at University of California, Berkeley. Holmes mapped out three primary objectives for PR at UC Berkeley: 1) to demonstrate financial stewardship; "since we are a public institution and serve at the pleasure of the public and are funded by them, we want to be sure that our audiences understand how we use their precious resources;" 2) to showcase the stature of the faculty, their wonderful research breakthroughs and the important faculty and student research projects underway; and 3) to share great stories about students, showcasing obstacles people have overcome to get here and the great things they do when they finish school.

What are the most important benefits of PR to Cal?


"Overall, ongoing media relations contribute to a reputation of excellence that allows us to continue to attract high quality students and faculty," Holmes explains. Media outreach discusses "the excellence of our faculty, the research contributions that we make and tells the story through the people here and what they are doing."


Last year when the California budget was volatile there were incidents on campus portrayed in the national news as the demise of Berkeley. The public affairs team worked with east coast major press about UC Berkeley's position for the long haul and its sustainability as a beacon of excellence. Holmes set out to demonstrate that "this is not the Berkeley of the '60s. While there are wonderful things about our legacy, we had many Nobel Laureates in the past and we still do."


"Service is an important part of our university and we rank second among all universities worldwide in terms of Peace Corps volunteers as graduates," Holmes reveals. "People are in part attracted here because service and giving back is central to our brand."

Tell us about a couple of successful strategies or tactics that you have used to leverage the media to tell the university's story.


UC Berkeley Public Affairs is a high volume news shop; they place about 8,000 stories each year plus millions of mentions as well.


Examples of successful PR strategies include the internationally acclaimed story "Older than Lucy" - a landmark anthropology discovery by a UC Berkeley professor. This global ground breaking story was "very interesting to plan around the world's time zones and outlets."


UC Berkeley has had many faculty members become presidential political appointees. While the University may publicize these appointments, they have to disassociate with the faculty member during their service. "We hope Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu will return to Cal; his experience will augment his portfolio with great perspective about how the government works, their priorities and how we can make contributions."


When a Nobel Prize is awarded to a faculty member, Holmes manages the story. The work of last year's winner in economics posed a challenge for the UC Berkeley PR team to help the media understand the complexity of the research findings that earned him the award. "One of our staff does an amazing job translating complicated science to language accessible to the media and the public. We need to educate the public about why the work is a breakthrough and what it will mean for people," Holmes stated.

Who are a few of Cal's most effective and prominent spokespeople?

At UC Berkeley, about 200 spokespeople have been cultivated. While at the Goldman School of Public Policy, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich speaks to the press about the economy. Chris Edly, Dean at Boalt Hall School of Law, is an expert on issues like online education and campaign laws. Ananya Roy, professor of City and Regional Planning, covers global poverty and innovations from our students to solve world problems, while Bob Bee, on the faculty of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a civil engineer during Hurricane Katrina, has been a commentator on Haiti infrastructure issues.

A Private University Perspective: Georgetown University


"Georgetown University uses PR to tell the story of Georgetown to a wide range of external and internal constituencies in the Georgetown community: students, faculty, staff, members of the media, policy makers in DC, and the general public comprised of potential students, alumni and donors," says Rob Mathis, Communications Officer, International & Business. Mathis and the PR team are charged with building and maintaining the university's reputation to attract and retain top faculty and students, as well as with a large volume of reactive work in responses to daily calls from the media and public. He explained that the alumni relations organization is responsible for fundraising, so that is not among the PR objectives.


What are the most important benefits of PR to Georgetown?

There are two primary benefits of PR to Georgetown. First is to showcase the university as a major research institution with an "extremely strong global focus." Second is to highlight Georgetown's Jesuit heritage and showcase the positive impact it has on the student with its philosophy for education to benefit the whole person, along with the university's active role conducting interfaith dialogue.

What are some of the successful strategies or tactics that you have used to leverage the media to tell the university's story?


Georgetown uses proactive PR to build its relationships with the media.

Since so many mediagenic events occur on campus, "when something on campus happens that is newsworthy, you have the ability to share information and not just provide the scoop," says Mathis.


Georgetown is a destination for major government, political and private industry leaders to speak and the media is interested in covering these events. You get a sense that Georgetown is not just another university, with speakers such as President Obama, World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, His Excellency Dr. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, and CEOs of Volkswagen Group of America , TIAA-CREF, Honest Tea, and Sir Richard Branson.

Who are a few of GU's most effective and prominent spokespeople?

Many faculty from Georgetown become "go to" sources for the media, such as CNN, NPR, BBC, and the Washington Post, for topics like war and terrorism, among others. The university has a single institutional spokesperson, in Julie Green Bataille, Associate Vice President for Communications, who addresses all topics on behalf of Georgetown. While specific Deans or President DeGioia can respond to anything, the University's practice is to have the focal point of a single primary spokesperson who is easily available to speak to the press. Others who have frequently been in the media include Edward Montgomery, Dean of Georgetown's Public Policy Institute, who served on President Obama's Auto Task Force and speaks about developments in the automotive sector; Victor Cha, on the faculty of the School of Foreign Services, who was Director of Asian Affairs for the National Security Council under President Bush, and who is an expert on Korea; and Reena Aggarwal from the McDonough School of Business, an international finance expert who talks about Wall Street, the economy and jobs.

Communicating Online and Off: Kaplan University


For Kaplan University, the online university of Kaplan Higher Education, public relations serves to" raise awareness about our educational institutions and what they have to offer," said Michele Pore, Director of Public Relations. PR contributes to "distinguishing what we have to offer at KHE from other higher education institutions."


What are the most important benefits of PR to Kaplan University (KU)?


While the Kaplan brand has a strong public reputation, Kaplan University utilizes PR "to lend a voice to position Kaplan Higher Education beyond the public understanding of the Kaplan test prep history and role," explains Pore. "KHE has grown tremendously over the past decade and is now the largest business unit within the Kaplan, Inc. organization serving 100,000 adult students," she continues. Other key objectives for PR at KU include educating employers about the value of the degrees, educating prospective students about an alternative option that they may not have previously considered, and differentiating its innovative approach to higher education: a market-driven education, utilizing technology to deliver that education, and specifically designed to help people advance professionally.

Please tell me about a couple of successful strategies or tactics that you have used to leverage the media to tell the university's story.


Pore's team works to involve KU in news stories about trends in online education that promote "the growing number of professionals who are getting their MBAs online as a way to further their careers without leaving the workforce." She has used radio media tours as one economical way to reach millions.


KU has gotten positive coverage for the campaign they launched to promote the benefits they offer to military students and have gotten recognition from military publications for their military-friendly practices.


Their Career Advisor campaign with the Career Resources Center has received extensive year-round coverage in online, print and broadcast media by offering a KU expert to provide advice and tips on job search, online reputation, commentary on employment and job search trends.


At graduation times, KU promotes the successes of its graduates through a home-towner program that generates substantial coverage to promote the KU success with students in local and regional markets throughout the country.

Who are a few of KHE most effective and prominent spokespeople?


While not a research university, KU has spokespeople from its executive team with prominent government, business and academic credentials. Peter Smith, Senior Vice President for Academic Strategies and Development for KHE, is a former lieutenant governor and congressman, and the founding president of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).; Wade Dyke, president of Kaplan University, served as CEO of Chancellor Beacon Academies, Inc., now Imagine Schools, the largest national provider of charter school education, as well as a White House Fellow and Rhodes Scholar; and Frank DiMarino, Dean of School of Criminal Justice, is a former U.S. Attorney.

Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc.
ICCC helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market
through brand building, public relations and strategic communications. To find out
how ICCC might help you and your company build its reputation contact
ivy@ivycohen.com, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.