Newman University – Beyond Teacher Education
Members of Encore Communications’ team were appointed by Newman University to deliver a PR programme to raise its profile within Birmingham and increase awareness of the variety of degree courses it offers.
To gauge existing awareness levels, we carried out a Perception Audit at the start of the programme; interviewing a number of members of the city’s education, business and political worlds for their views on the college and their relationships with it.
This revealed a number of issues and misunderstandings that needed to be addressed through the PR programme, including confusion around the university college’s name, basic awareness of its higher education status, its location and the broad variety of courses on offer.
From here, we developed a series of messages designed to address these issues and a target media list, which was tiered to reflect the relative importance of different publications to the target audiences.
Each message was also given a points value to allow us to evaluate not just the volume of media coverage achieved throughout the year but also how ‘on target’ that coverage was.
News stories about day-to-day activity at the university were developed and issued to media targets, while media training was provided for lecturers who were positioned as subject experts for the media, offering comment on external news stories as appropriate.
A relationship-building media briefing and site visit was also arranged for Times Higher Education, resulting in an editorial profile of the university in this top-tier publication.
At the end of the first year, almost 40 pieces of positive media coverage had appeared in regional, national and trade media, over 50% of which were in publications ranked A or A* and all bar two of which correctly named the university and its location in Birmingham.
Media coverage included interviews with lecturers on the BBC News Channel and Sky News, as well as full-page articles in the Birmingham Post, a three-page feature in Times Education Supplement and coverage on Midlands Today, ITV Central, BBC Radio WM and various regional and vertical trade titles.
The advertising value of these articles – not allowing for the added value of neutral editorial voice – was over £430,000, set against a PR spend of less than £11,000.
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