The marketing departments of several big universities were recently asked what the goals were in recently launched social media campaigns. The three most common answers were to raise awareness, attract more students, and to strengthen the school’s reputation. How each university launches its message varies greatly. Some have embraced technology more than others. Being well versed in technology aids in relating to the 18-24 year old demographic most colleges are hoping to reach.
100% of all colleges in the United States are on at least one social media platform. Social media is the best way to organically bring together community, administration, and students. There are some universities that have multiple accounts on one forum. An example would be Columbia University. Columbia has its main Columbia University Twitter page where general information is posted, then there are individual Twitter accounts for each department: business, science, admissions, etc.
When a university has multiple accounts under its name, it is important to implement university wide guidelines. It is worthwhile for each account to be unique and creative, but there are lines that cannot be crossed in order to maintain a sense of professionalism and uniformity. It is wise to hold university wide social media conferences.
These meetings allow account administrators to coordinate and construct posts in-sync. It is smart for universities to have a constant theme. A good idea is to always keep the university's mission statement in mind when posting. Picking three words from the mission statement to incorporate in every message help create a sense of unity.
The key to each department gaining the most followers is to be distinctive. There has to be a reason to follow that account aside from membership. A university cannot post the same press release on every account and hope for popularity. If every account does post about the same topic, each should put its own spin on the story.
Having its own account allows a department to showcase its capabilities, achievements, and expertise. Online is the perfect place to display awards, recognitions, events, and projects. Posting online allows users to promote before, during, and after an event. These individual accounts can be great resources for journalists.
When a school joins social media, it is important for posters to ask themselves: one, what do we want to achieve?; two, who are we targeting?; three, how should we measure our campaign’s progress and success?; and, fpur, how will be encourage interaction? A majority of students do not receive their news from the press, they discover announcements through social media. Since students rely heavily on social media, it is important that universities are proficient in utilizing them.
Having well formatted social media accounts can do a lot for a school. It can create interest, promote events, and make life easier for students and staff. Stanford University recently released iStanford. iStanford is an app for Stanford students that allows them to register for classes, read campus news, and access campus maps, plus more. Through iStanford, administrators can also post messages, notices, and warnings in seconds for the entire Stanford family to see.
In case of a disaster, having a well functioning social media system can save lives. In the event of a terror threat, a warning could be sent momentarily, alerting all students about what to do and where to go to stay safe. The internet is an excellent form of emergency contact.
After a public relations disaster such as a teacher-student sex scandal or a corruption sting, there are several procedures a school should put in place. First, encourage students not to leak any information. Second, advise staff where to redirect journalists and how to spot a journalist. Sometimes writers will pose as someone else to extract information from unsuspecting staff members. Also, if anyone would like to give a quote, it should be anonymous. “Individuals are considered innocent until proved guilty under our justice system; the media is not.”
Just like any other situation, it is critical how a school responds through social media. Schools need to project an image of caring. Students need to see that their administrators care about students beyond their wallets. Posts should extend farther than registration reminders. Stories about good things happening on campus are always quality material. When posting, quality should always win over quantity.
A school’s best public relations tool is the students and faculty themselves. Word of mouth is the best and most trusted form of marketing. A positive review from someone who attends the school is worth more than any press release. Students and staff are “an extension of a school’s brand.” Incoming students would trust a student-run blog documenting life at University of Delaware way more than a blog produced by a hired University of Delaware marketer.
How the school responds to students is also important. Three main actions a social media correspondent should take are to engage, listen, and respond. If a lot of time passes between posts, or response times are longer than being put on hold by Comcast, students will forget you. It is okay to not have an answer. However, it is important to still post a message announcing that an update will be released once more information has been gathered.
Just as many people expect holiday-themed decorations and events around each holiday, you can expect holiday-themed advertisements and campaigns. Most popular is a Christmas theme. Ads posted in November and December all have a touch of Christmas magic. During the holidays, public relations companies need to flood the media with ads and announcements.
Companies need to capitalize on the thrill of the season. Executives assume that consumers are distracted with the holiday hustle and bustle, but in reality customers are most exposed to advertisements compared with any other time of year. Here are ways public relations companies use the holidays to an advantage:
A year in review. Year-end wrap-ups would be very attractive for current and potential clients. It is helpful for clients to see the progress their company has made throughout the year. The year in review could be sent through video, card, or booklet.
The review allows your company to highlight your company's most recent achievements and promote upcoming events that your company has planned. As the recent surge of franchise reboots has proved, people love nostalgia. Giving clients and employees the opportunity to remember the biggest moments from the year will make all involved feel good about the work done and your partnership with the client.
If the last year was not a great one for your company, year-end wrap-ups are a way to explain yourself. This is a platform to communicate directly with your clients and workers where you went wrong and how you are going to fix the problems. It is better to be upfront with your issues, rather than act as though they do not exist. Once you have explained yourself, you can paint a brighter picture for your future.
Having Christmas Spirit. It is extremely important to capitalize on the season. It is the most wonderful time of the year, and it only happens once a year. The holiday season presents many unique opportunities. Everyone is excited about the season; it helps if your company is, too. Posting themed material and engaging in special activities allows you to remain relevant.
The simplest things can keep you in the loop. The smallest gesture, such as tweeting “Merry Christmas,” can send a message to your clients that you care. Sending a company holiday card can show you care, too. Changing your cover photos and backgrounds on all social media platforms to fit the season can be of great use. For example, DELL turned its simple circular logo into a Christmas ball ornament.
Even though it is was controversial, Starbucks adjusted for the season. The company switched from all white cups to all red cups for the holidays. All press is good press, right? Using holiday hashtags can increase your popularity and chance of customer interaction. Macy’s uses #Macysbelieve to promote its letters to Santa Claus Make-A-Wish Foundation campaign.
Everyone loves presents. Clients are no different. It could be highly beneficial to send out tokens of appreciation for those who support you. Depending on your company, bottles of wine may be appropriate to send to CEOs of some of your larger clients. If you are involved in the retail industry, sending faithful customers special coupons is a good idea. The holiday season is a time of giving. The end of the year is the perfect time to donate. Making charitable donations will better society and improve public opinion.
Preparation. It is easy to assume that during the holiday season customers are less susceptible to advertisements and media. You could not be more wrong. During this time, customers are bombarded with advertisements like no other time of year. Pictures of Santa will be everywhere they go. Christmas carols will be playing in the background everywhere they walk. Buyers will not be able to escape it. This is the time to post and promote as much as possible. This will take lots of planning.
A team will need to be organized months in advance to prepare for the holiday season. This is very common. Planning for the Thanksgiving Day parades begins in early March. Since your pool of reachable people will be so high, the amount of content you have available needs to be high. “More posts means more exposure.” However, more posts mean more work, which takes more time.
The end of the year is also a great time to hype upcoming announcements. Teasing the announcement throughout the holiday season will interest people into remembering you after the holiday season. The announcement should be made after Christmas, heading into the new year. This time could also be used to promote big events planned for the new year.
A radio station once teased all holiday season that it had a HUGE announcement underway, unveiling tiny hints each day throughout the season. Finally, after Christmas the radio station announced it would be changing the station name beginning in the new year. The station took advantage of the increased amount of listeners during the holiday season, hoping seasonal listeners would flow over into the new year, with the new brand.
Community Involvement. There is no better time to interact with the community than during the holiday season. Every weekend there is either a tree lighting, children’s choir concert, Christmas village, ice skating rink, or Santa meet and greet. All of these are opportunities to be seen and heard. As a company, you could either sponsor an event, host a table, hold a toy drive, or anything to make your presence known.
When citizens see that you give back to your community, they will be more willing to do business with you. Having your name associated with something positive can really help a business, even if you are not in trouble. When torn between two companies, a customer may remember seeing you at the recent Toys for Tots event and pick your company over another. It never hurts to go out into the community.
Technology has altered the lives of first world countries tremendously. We no longer have to churn our own butter, we have high speed internet, and we have the resources to cure diseases that previously wiped out millions. However, there are downsides to relying as heavily as we do on advanced automatics. Inconveniences include damage to the environment, lack of privacy, and laziness. What about when it comes to business? Technology has allowed businesses to connect to their customers in innovative and particular ways. But, has this abolished the need for public relations? A former PR executive produced a book last year proclaiming that technology had killed PR.
He reasoned that the rise of social media had diminished the demand for public relations. Others say the opposite. Some current public relations executives state that social media has driven a demand for public relations. The fact that the face of public relations has drastically changed over the last decade does not mean it is becoming extinct. If you own a public relations company that used to thrive and is now stagnant, maybe the problem is that you have not successfully kept up with the times. Social media has opened avenues that allow companies to publicize themselves as never before, not only in the number of new platforms available, but in the different formats available.
There are so many different options to choose from when deciding where to advertise your clients. TV, radio, billboard, restaurant placemats, key chains, celebrity endorsements, website banners – an abundance of options accessible with just a click A company can use YouTube for long videos, Instagram to display different goods and services, Twitter to promote a message quickly and simply, Facebook allows mutual friends to discuss openly and to promote their companies or products within their networks of friends. Online messaging boards and review site platforms such as Yelp or Tripadvisor may aide in a similar fashion. However, websites similar to these can be a blessing or a curse. For a solid company they are a great asset. If your company often experiences hiccups or bad press, websites like Yelp can ruin your business.
Here is a list of the components that add up to being the best time yet in public relations history:
Public relations specialists have always been masters of simplifying. Since their creation, their primary functions have been to take Company’s vast ideas and condense them into pretty packages that will attract clients. Clients have never wanted to be bombarded by a ton of lengthy informative narratives. They have always preferred advertisements that were short and to the point. That is easier more than ever now with the help of social media. Public relations companies can take extensive concepts, summarize them, dress them up, and redistribute them back to the world. Social media today is designed specifically for this purpose. For example; vines only last seven seconds and tweets have to be less than 140 characters. If something is too long or too confusing, customers will simply keep scrolling.
New technology has allowed companies to be skeptical. Consumers can research a product or company within seconds and form an opinion. Customers do a lot of research prior to committing to a large purchase. There is a certain wariness consumers have about companies. They are not as easily susceptible to advertising as they might once have been. Many people even have ad blockers installed on their devices to prevent themselves from being reached by companies. Due to the power buyers now have, agencies need public relations to find ways to gain customer trust and make sure promotions reach intended targets.
Companies often have to dispute false claims. Companies can directly promote the truth to their clients, or they can continually post engaging information over time that builds trust, It is important for a company to keep their clients well informed and active or everything will plateau. If the company is the one building and maintaining its image, it assures the image it wants portrayed is the one being received.
- Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools in advertising. People are much more likely to listen to the opinion of someone they know and trust over a large corporation. If someone sees their neighbor posting about how great their new Cuisinart blender is, they will ask their neighbor if they recommend the same one the next time they are in the market for a new blender. Previously, word of mouth marketing literally had to travel orally. Social media has also created professional bloggers, the modern day equivalent of a secret shopper. They buy and test products, and consumers who read their blogs may trust their reviews enough to consider buying the product or service.
There are several things business students should know before declaring a public relations concentration. Marketing, advertising, public relations, international business, and management are just a few options to decide among when choosing a concentration. It is foolish to make such a pivotal decision blindly. Here are five things to know about public relations to aide in determining a concentration:
1) First and foremost, what do public relations specialists do? “PR people are storytellers.” Public relations build rapport between companies and the public or other organizations. Public relations companies are then responsible for building, enhancing, and protecting these alliances. Building these bonds takes precise strategies and goals. When signing with a client, there should always be an end goal. It is important to establish objectives to strive towards. Initially, specific planning is necessary to reach those goals. Disciplines used to achieve those goals include social media, market research, and extensive writing,
2) How does public relations differ from marketing or advertising? Public relations is less about selling an object and more about creating relationships. First comes public outreach through various media to develop rapport with reporters or businesses in allied fields. Once trust has been built with such groups, public relations account managers and executives work to strengthen this trust. In doing so, public relations personnel communicate more directly and less impersonal than advertisers. Their rely more on interpersonal rapport than on capturing attention with flashy and expensive displays. They help clients make wise decisions.
3) One of the more surprising aspects of public relations is how actively the field is connected to the news. The goal of public relations is to induce positive public opinion of a client’s brand or organization. An excellent way of achieving a positive public opinion is through media exposure. PR consultants’ primary tasks involve contacting the media and proposing stories, and urging follow up once stories have been successfully marketed. Important concepts to keep in mind when promoting a story are: What does the audience receive from the information being promoted? Why is it relevant now? Why should anyone care?
4) Social media is not the most important form of media. Social media will never replace traditional media. Social media is simply used as an instrument to heighten awareness of a message. Social media posts need to be lively and modern. Major platforms used for digital public relations are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. When deciding what social media format to utilize, it is important to consider which demographic you are attempting to engage. If a company is trying to reach an older group, Twitter would not be a smart choice. If a company is pursuing moms, Pinterest would be an excellent decision.
5) It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of public relations. There is no set algorithm to determine its success rate. The most common guidelines used to evaluate performance are the Barcelona principles. They were originally created in 2010 by professionals in the public relations field and updated as recent as 2015. Some of the evaluations performed using the Barcelona principles are need for outcome, equivalency metrics, and value of social media.