Andrew Careaga, from Missouri University of Science and Technology, is doing a live chat with Seth Odell later on today on Higher Ed Live about the future of PR in Higher Education and has asked for any thoughts, so thought I’d give my two cents and pose some questions.
Andrew asks what sort of direction we see it heading in.
- In the UK, in the short-term we’ve seen much more scrutiny of the university sector following the rise in tuition fees up to £9k. I think increasingly you’ll see PR teams responding to stories about contact hours, student rights, degree quality – even if they’d prefer the focus was on research
- A greater focus on promoting the digital presence of individual academics, i.e. their blogs, videos, tweets. Especially in large institutions, PR teams will become a focal point for distributing this content out to other audiences (not necessarily the MSM), rather than creating content via their own press releases
- Specialist ‘press office/comms social media feeds (such as Imperial Spark) rather than the PR team having direct control of social media, due to student enquiries
- Don’t think there will be a move away from press releases (or media relations) in the near future. For better or worse, they still appear to work for achieving local and national coverage in some cases.
At a time when more (especially younger) academics are blogging, tweeting and establishing a digital presence themselves, should PR departments be concerned about this, or simply accept that this is a trend they can’t stop?
How do you achieve buy-in from senior management for resources in PR departments (ideally not as the result of a massive crisis)?
When does PR teams engaging with audiences (via digital media) etc, especially when those audiences are prospective students, become marketing? Should we begin to abandon the distinctions between PR/marketing and alumni relations/internal comms?
Are there any particular lessons the UK could learn from the US in this area (or vice versa)?
Join in – it’s at (if I’ve got my time zones right), 9pm UK time.