Public relations strategies and tactics in Education Institutions
In any field of work, be it profitable or non-profitable, relatively new or well established, a good public relations exposure may go a long way in creating credibility of the organization. It is the key to successful implementation of policies and growth in an institution.Bhavik Sarkhedi
Likewise, public relations strategies and tactics play a crucial role in educational sector, revenue from which surpass 80000 crores annually in India.
1. Educational Organizations and PR Development-
Educational institutions include programs that provide child care, instruction for primary and secondary students, colleges, universities, trade schools, and schools for special needs students. Educational institutions take on a staggering array of organizational structures and functions.
A public information officer for a local school district must constantly deal with parents, the school board, and other community and governmental organizations.
A university director of public relations or even marketing communications, on the other hand, has less interaction with parents but must deal with ongoing student recruitments, campus controversies, and alumni relations.
2. Colleges and Universities and the need for PR-
Higher education is big business in India as it is worldwide. India spends around 6% of its GDP on Educational sector (approximately 72000 crore INR) annually on public
colleges and universities. It’s also a business that has millions of customers—students. In India itself, almost 20 million students are enrolled at more than 700 universities and 35000 colleges .
Almost every one of these institutions has personnel working in such activities as public
relations, marketing communication, and fund-raising. Increasingly, public relations officers need to monitor social media to stay atop emerging issues for the institution to forestall embarrassing and damaging blows to the reputation of their institution.
3. Key Publics in Educational institutions-
1. Faculty and Staffs- Able college presidents involve their faculty and staff in decision making to the fullest extent possible, given the complexities of running major institution. Good morale, a necessity, is achieved in large measure through communication.
2. Students- Because of their large numbers and the many families that they represent, students make up the largest public relations arm—for good or bad—that a university has. The quality of the teaching they receive and their overall experience are the greatest determinants of student allegiance to an institution.
3. Alumni and Other Donors-The loyalty and financial support of alumni are crucial to the ongoing operations of a college or university. Alumni are considered the major foundation of any fund-raising effort because of their immediate association with the institution. Donors who are not alumni also are cultivated for major gifts based on their interest in particular fields or disciplines. Colleges and universities raise money for such projects as recruiting new faculty, buying equipment, building student residence halls, providing scholarships, and upgrading campus computer networks. Social media is increasingly utilized to build alumni loyalty and networking.
4. The Community- A college or university must maintain a good relationship with the members of the community in which it is situated. The greatest supporters that an institution may have are the people within its immediate geographic area.
5. Prospective Students- Suffering from declining revenues, increased operation costs, and a dwindling pool of prospective students lower birthrates and competition from online degree programs, many colleges have turned to highly competitive recruiting methods.
PR Building in Educational sector- Advantage of Fund-Raising and Development -
Finding ways to pay the bills is a critical problem for virtually all nonprofit organizations like educational institutions or others that advocate social or environmental causes, offer social services, provide health care, and even provide education from kindergarten to college. Many also receive government funding, but the amount usually covers only a small part of the operating costs. Consequently, better PR building strategies is an important component of any nonprofit in fund-raising.
Public relations professionals participate directly in fund-raising by organizing and conducting solicitation programs or by serving as consultants to specialized development departments in their organizations. However, organizations may instead employ professional firms to conduct their fund-raising campaigns on a fee basis. In those instances, the organizations’ public relations professionals usually serve a liaison function.
Thus, the importance of public relations in educational sector can be summarized in the following points-
1. Public relations at colleges and universities involves both development, or fund-raising, and enhancing the prestige of the institution.
2. The office of development and public relations may conduct meetings, publish newsletters, and arrange tours.
3. The audiences for communication include alumni, students, prospective students, faculty and staff, government, and the general public.
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