Sobre la difusió de l’activitat d’una universitat: reflexions de comunicadors universitaris UK


L’activitat d’una universitat és sempre molt elevada, i a més té una característica que la diferencia de moltes altres institucions: la recerca, és a dir, la creació constant de coneixement. Això fa que sempre hi hagi notícies singulars i propostes innovadores que és bo que la societat conegui. La qüestió rau, però, en com fer arribar al ciutadà aquesta activitat, sobretot amb l’entrada en joc de les noves eines digitals, des del web fins a les xarxes socials.

Una de les formes tradicionals és fer servir els mitjans de comunicació, amb la utilització de les notes de premsa. Ara bè, ja s’hi ha afegir campanyes a les xarxes socials, aplicacions per a mòbil, videocplis, etc:

HEIs are already turning to new and innovative ways of delivering news-worthy content, for example through social media campaigns, smartphone applications, video releases or press conference events.

HEIs have the opportunity to leapfrog the mainstream media and engage its audience directly through “video, audio, slide shows or hosting debates, events and using social media.”

En definitiva, es tracta d’una de les formes que té una universitat per promoure’s i en definitiva per satisfer la seva missió de servei a la societat. Relacionat amb aquesta connexió amb la societat, The Guardian va fer divendres una interessant trobada virtual

we’re inviting HE media specialists and university press officers to join us to discuss how HEIs can innovate and develop their communications. We’ll be looking at online channels, social media platforms, new engagement methods and even existing tools, so please join us to share your own techniques, insights and best practice.

que ha generat múltiples comentaris que proporciones excel.lent informació: Live chat: beyond the press release – innovative PR in higher education. Els comentaris es van anar generant ràpidament, i faciliten una bona introducció a molts dels temes involucrats en la comunicació i la promoció d’una institució d’educació superior. Amb l’excusa de la discussió sobre notes de premsa (Press Releases), hi ha idees interessants per connectar la universitat amb els diferents tipus de públic, amb moltes opinions a favor de fer servir les eines de la web 2.0 com a principal via de relació entre universitat, territori i societat.

En senyalo aquí el que hi he trobat de més rellevant, als comentaris. Fan referència a difererents aspectes de la comunicació d’una universitat, de la seva promoció, de la recerca, de la docència … i, en definitiva, de la persecució dels objectius que té marcats.

From @MarioCreatura: “in a saturated market (evil word!) is it possible for universities to differentiate themselves to the media, and through them, to the public using digital and new media?”

HEIs should PR activity should start a stage earlier than churning out releases. Question 1 should be: “What do you want to be known for?” Question 2 is: “who do you want to about you?” Question 3 is “how do you reach them?”

@MarioCreatura – an HE colleague once memorably referred to the UK HE sector as ‘the land of the bland’ – all 165 claiming exactly the same things (excellence in teaching, research and reachout)! I think social media can undoubtedly help to underpin reputation and assist differentiation – and I think we’re already seeing this. Good examples are: University of Nottingham’s topical political blogs, funny and informative short films about elements in the periodic table and good dynamic content on Facebook highlighting their reputation as a research-intensive university. Also – University of Sunderland’s Lives on Line project – last year they had six students blogging, tweeting, posting pictures etc to give a vibrant picture of student life for applicants outside the North East. They integrated this with more traditional parts of the marketing mix (e.g. open days) and applications from the target areas outside the home region soared!

At Bath we are focusing on fewer stories but selecting the very strongest, and then rather than simply phoning journos and drafting releases we are exploring other ways of communicating the content, both through the media and directly to our audiences.

@MikeSimpson whilst not wanting to underestimate the power of digital and social media at all (I’m a fan), it’s worth remembering that people do still consume traditional media channels too! Indeed, for some audiences and some messages, it can still be the best way of reaching people.

the big opportunity is the immediacy of engaging through social channels. It’s so important to not just be monitoring those conversations but actually engaging in them. We’re about to change the structure of our team so that we’re able to be more nimble at monitoring and responding to conversations with our stakeholders – from researchers, to authors, to librarians, to doctors…

I’d like to echo your positive view* of Nottingham’s Period Table Videos. They are a perfect way of promoting the uni, not by saying “We’re best” (everyone says that) but by actually demonstrating their expertise. Good PR should show, not tell. (Of course, that requires the institution to actually be good, but that’s sort of the whole general idea anyway.)

I wouldn’t underestimate the value of using multimedia to demonstrate a message – e.g. simply recording your institutional stakeholders in situ – the LSE podcasts are so simple yet so popular – if you are able to record lecturers doing what they do best, the equipment can be as simple as plugging in a laptop and recording using, or using a cheap handheld camera, then uploading that content (little editing invovled if it’s recording a lecture) onto YouTube or iTunes or your own network

In terms of innovative approaches, back in 2005 (yes, 6 years ago) I was appointed to be Head of Research-TV. This was a broadcast PR service that Warwick Uni set up in partnership with a number of organisations in the sector (I was working in-house at Warwick at the time). We existed to raise the profile of university research on television channels all around the world. The beauty of this is that the academics got to communicate their research themselves, but edited in a way that broadcasters would like and use. But doing this required a number of things: – decent budgets (video, produced well to broadcast standard isn’t cheap) – time (communicating research well takes time of the comms pro and, importantly, the academics) – creativity (to recognise a good research project and make the connection to the ‘real world’ that broadcasters would need in order to run it). Our lessons from that was that the sector was very reserved in getting involved, and they just weren’t prepared to invest time and money into PR and good quality communications. The time and money issues remain, and until we crack those, we’re never going to be able to do really great comms in the HE sector.

Video is key – We already have good capabilities in-house but are investing further in a Multimedia comms officer, who will largely concentrate on video and aaudio production – for both internal messaging and PR. When you consider we currently have a small comms team (just me), that shows how important this area is for us. Simply put – providing video or audio for the online version of publications helps massively increase chance of coverage, as well as making your own website and social media use more effective. The traditional rule of thumb of “is the story good for photos” has largely been replaced by “is the story good for photos AND video”

interesting to hear that you outsource. I would argue that it is worth the investment in-house. It is then much easier to integrate it with your other output, more responsive and effective, Agree that it is time-consuming but I think really worth it.

@KyleChristie We’re starting a bespoke EHUPress one, so as not to confuse the audiences and the messages. EHUPress would be purely a journalists’ tool – so academic opinions, press statements, releases etc. Edge Hill main account would then be primarily for applicants/enquirers/current students

@MelonieFullick good point, and I think one of the roles of a uni press office is to highlight those good things coming out of all different parts of their institution – not just to the media, but to the wider public. That doesn’t have to be via a press release, could be all the other forms of media we are talking about. But being externally facing as we are, we’re in a good position to do that – a lot of work goes into finding the stories in the first place too.

Absolutely right that PR is now no longer the exclusive preserve of the PR office but can be affected (+ve/-ve) by individual staff and students (and departments and projects and…). Can anyone link to a particularly good Uni social media strategy? One specific point: is it a good idea to supply staff with ‘work Twitter’ accounts that they can keep separate from their ‘personal Twitter’? We have some staff who are very enthusiastic tweeters but the signal-to-noise ratio is very high so anyone following them to learn about their research also has endless hourly updates on the weather, the drive to work, last night’s Appentice and what sort of muffin they’re eating.

I think VCs tweeting and blogging is good, but it should be them doing it. Having it through a corporate account means users won’t engage with it in the same way. But nor should it be a chore.

@NeilMckeown they key to successfully engaging people through social media has to start with the audience, not the organisation. So, understand what your audience wants and needs (in life, not just in relation to your organisation, so you know who else you are competing with for their time and attention beyond the HE sector), then create content that somehow makes yourself useful and relevant to them. Simply pushing out messages just because we have them is pointless and off-putting. Press releases are a specific form of writing, written for journalists as the audience. Most journalists that I have ever spoken to (including the for the study I did for the CIPR Edu and Skills Group 18 months or so ago) say they do not like to be tweeted links to press releases. They’d rather have a conversation with you if you have something interesting to say. You shouldn’t be tweeting content just because you have content. And if you don’t have the right content to share with a specific audience, then you should be creating it instead of just sharing what you have. I’m not against tweeting good news, etc, but I am seriously against people lazily tweeting links to press releases (and worse still, auto posting to Twitter, where titles, etc get cut off, or starting the tweet with ‘University of X announces…’ when I know it’s from the University of X because that’s the account I’m following).

We have two Twitter accounts: uniofleicspress tweets press releases to journalists and press agenciesunifoleicsnews tweets Newsblog stories to everyone

@MatthewCaines embargos are often a challenge for distributing press releases in conjunction with social media work. You wouldn’t want a social media campaign to damage your chances of coverage. However, at the very least, you need to have all your digital and social media ducks in a row (as ir were – not sure what social media ducks would look like!) for when the story breaks, so that you’re getting the message out consistently through as many routes as possible. And for some audiences or campaigns, the direct engagement/ social media aspect may be more important than the mainstream media coverage, so you’d change the order of things again. I think best practice is to tailor your activity every single time to make sure you’re thinking about the best possible approach.

One of the departments at Bath ran a really successful #BathCR (Bath connected researcher) workshop aimed at our postgrad researchers, getting them online and using blogs, forums, social networks and the like to inform and communicate their research.

@AnneENicholls Expert databases are, in my experience, a waste of time. They take a lot of man power to maintain and journalists do not use them.

@mithulucraft – given the amount of content you have to go through, do you (or any of the other universities press offices) offer internships to students interested in getting into PR. Great experience for them during their studies and intelligent, motivated resources for you…

@lostinthenoise I was a university marketing and communications director until recently and witnessed (indeed encouraged!) a rapid convergence of marketing and communications activities around the digital platforms. As a communicator by training I think PR people need to, and can, show a lead in this reconfigured structure which – as you say – needs to be integrated. As many have already observed the starting point is what you need to achieve, then how best to achieve it.

@MatthewCaines – too many ‘nice tries’ and bloopers over the years to mention! But on a serious note I think it is possible to achieve widespread publicity for your university without actually getting anywhere near organisational objectives. Discovering where the important conversations are happening online – and importantly – which ones you can actually influence begins to get us nearer to building reputation with target audiences in a more meaningful way