How to Generate Positive PR for your MBA programme
The University of Exeter Business School wanted to increase awareness of its MBA and attract more enquiries from prospective students.
Exeter is a top UK business school and its MBA is in the top 20 for sustainability according to the Corporate Knights MBA Ranking. The circular economy, entrepreneurship and digital innovation underpin its approach to designing new business models that address contemporary issues facing business and society.
Whilst it had developed a good reputation via other marketing channels, it had very little engagement with the business education or management media. This was primarily because it didn’t have the resources or relationships to do this in-house.
Roe Communications recommended that it was important to focus on the Exeter MBA’s strength in sustainability, rather than try and compete head-to-head with other schools,
We also advised Exeter that it would be better to target media outlets that most influence student choice, rather than taking a scattergun approach. Titles such as the Financial Times, BusinessBecause and The Guardian were specifically chosen for this purpose.
We used our knowledge of the media to educate the internal team on how best to access and deal with journalists and created clarity around their key messages, avoiding any inconsistency. We adopted an outside-in approach to ensure that their stories tapped into the wider news agenda.
Further into the PR campaign, we recognised that there was also a need for Exeter to attract business-to-business relationships to support corporate partnership, degree apprenticeships and Executive Education programmes. We used our understanding of what makes a good story to sell in ideas to the wider business and management press.
We developed a strategy to:
- Introduce the then MBA Director, Stuart Robinson, to all the key writers within business education via face-to-face meetings
- Facilitate profiles of Stuart in key media outlets, giving him the opportunity to talk extensively about how the MBA was different
- Target the FT in particular with commentary by the Exeter faculty on current business issues of interest to potential MBA students, such as Brexit and MBAs versus Masters
- Pick out specific newsworthy stories from the MBA – for instance a trip to Norway which developed the MBA students’ leadership capabilities.
The second half of the programme was focused on Exeter’s research centres, such as the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy and the Initiative in the Digital Economy at Exeter (INDEX).
- Between March to September 2018, the University of Exeter Business School was featured in 16 pieces of press coverage with a combined online readership of 59.9 million people. Estimated coverage views were 159.9k and the pieces were shared on social media 275 times.
- This was a 1,600% increase in press coverage from before the campaign period.
- Anecdotal evidence from Exeter reported that during the PR campaign period, applications to the Exeter MBA rose by as much as 25%. · A second burst of PR achieved pieces such as this interview in the Financial Times with Professor Will Harvey on research looking at the causes of white collar crime.
“Roe Communications were instrumental in raising the profile of our MBA programme. By combining our content with their knowledge of business schools and the media, they generated significant press coverage in our target media. It also meant that we were able to get on with our other commitments, safe in the knowledge that we had an expert team on the case.”