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Targeting your message for the international press Andrew Miller Deputy Director of Communications European University Association EUPRIO Conference June 13-15, 2008 European University Association (EUA)

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targeting your message for the international press

Targeting your message for the international press

Andrew Miller

Deputy Director of Communications

European University Association

EUPRIO Conference

June 13-15, 2008

european university association eua
European University Association (EUA)
  • The European University Association (EUA) : membership organisationrepresenting and supporting 800 universities and national rectors’ conferences in 46 countries, providing them with a unique forum to cooperate and keep abreast of the latest trends in higher education and research policies.
  • Created in March 2001 at Salamanca following merger between:
    • the Association of European Universities (CRE) - 1959 – rectors & other executive heads
    • the Confederation of European Union Rectors’ Conferences – 1973 – national associations
  • Aim: a stronger association representative of the whole HE sector
  • Merger pushed through by the Bologna process
mission and aims
Mission and aims
  • Promoting policies which contribute to the development of a European knowledge society
    • Higher education and Research
  • Informing members of key policy debates (Bologna, EIT, Rankings, Tuition fees, financing, autonomy…etc)
  • Developing expertise and knowledge through projects and studies
  • Strengthening the governance, leadership and management of universities across Europe
  • Developing partnerships in HE and research with the rest of the world
eua communications activities
EUA Communications Activities
  • Informing & disseminating information : target audiences include,
    • EUA Member universities
    • European actors/policymakers & press
    • Stakeholders outside Europe
  • Organising Conferences and events
  • Networking
    • Partner organisations (EAIE, IAU, European Students Union, ESU..)
    • HE networks ( informal meetings in brussels)
    • Press
eua press relations setting the scene
EUA Press relations: Setting the scene

Why is the international HE press so important to EUA?

  • Informing members from 46different countries about events, studies, and policy work (reaching out to new members)
  • Reinforcing work of organisation and influencing policy debates nationally (and at regional and European level)
  • Unlike individual universities EUA does not have a local or national media (specificities of Brussels media)
  • The voice of European universities : Strong universities for Europe
  • Still a ‘young organisation’ (only 7 years old and need to build and reinforce reputation)
  • Attracting new members
eua press relations setting the scene7
EUA Press relations: setting the scene

How does EUA carry out press work? (What resources do we have?)

  • One person working on press relations (and not full time) but try to involve as many people from the organisation as possible (trying to gradually build ‘buy in’ that press relations involves everyone)
  • Group of experts for interviews (management team – many give regular interviews – decided by topic and language)
  • Involve colleagues in drafting of press releases, press monitoring and establishing contacts
  • Working with member organisations ( particularly during events)
eua press relations setting the scene 2
EUA Press relations : setting the scene 2
  • Standard tools : press releases, newsletter (fortnightly), reactive interviews. But also distribution of story idea lists, and inviting journalists to key events, and meetings with President/key staff while travelling
  • Press releases : (translated and adapted internally where necessary)
  • Press database : Database of more than 1,000 journalists developed and maintained internally – around one third are correspondents in Brussels (so not necessarily specialists in higher education)
eua press relations setting the scene 29
EUA Press relations : setting the scene 2
  • “Inner core” of international journalists (around 100) with whom we try to work actively and specialists in higher education (EUA key target audience)
  • Interviews and and 400 press requests (plus around 100 telephone face-to-face interviews per year and growing rapidly)
  • Story list ( distributed to inner core) and particularly targeted at freelance writers and supplement editors
  • International media calendar ( FT, Time, Newsweek, Economist…)
  • Relationship building – using every possibility to meet journalists (when travelling – when key staff travelling- needs to be improved) Nothing beats the personal touch
eua press coverage
EUA Press coverage
  • Nearly 400 cuttings per year (not including broadcast) Figure much higher as we do not use a cuttings agency *
  • Looking to increase considerably this coverage over next 24 months
  • By building on first year’s work and particularly by growing database and activities in countries where traditionally EUA is not known by Media
  • Most 2007 cuttings come from 8/9 countries
  • In 2007, mainly driven by Bologna Process year and flagship EUA report : TRENDS and key EUA events and reports
why target the international press
Why target the international press?
  • Starting point: Why do we need an international press campaign?
  • To recruit more international students /academics
  • To support our recruitment effort/student fairs etc, or perhaps academics (research staff)
  • To reinforce my position in the national/international rankings? (You don’t have to be ranked to feature in the international rankings)
  • To raise the profile of my institution internationally

……. Define the ‘raison d’être’ before starting and set realistic and quantifiable goals..

(accept that you will not get the same amount and quality and type of coverage internationally as you do nationally)

getting started define your markets and resources
Getting started: Define your markets and resources
  • Which countries should you target – there needs to be a realistic discussion about what is feasible (Are you are more likely to get press coverage in some markets than others?) What links do you have to this country? What makes you interesting to their national press? Which countries give most coverage to international higher education issues. What budget and resources do you have? (and what internal resources)
  • Can you do this internally? and how can you use internal resources best (students, professors etc in your campaigns)
  • Working with a press relations agency? And how best to use your money
getting started establishing databases and editorial calendar
Getting started : establishing databases and editorial calendar
  • Decide which media to target? Again be broad enough to get results but be realistic
  • Contact and build database of journalists – who cover higher education, and all the areas you target
  • Find out as much as possible about their work: and when they do special supplements (studying abroad, working abroad, rankings, higher education) and make an editorial calendar
  • What stories/ideas do you want to push to the journalists selected
  • Establish a detailed and coordinated plan/calendar “of attack” (Timing of stories, countries, key actions including linking to possibilities for meeting with journalists – or your rector etc)
  • What additional information should be I armed with before starting? (Foreign language speakers, students, statistics)
how to communicate with the international press
How to communicate with the international press
  • International press relations is difficult ( compared to national press relations) but really not impossible if you take into account the specific cultural and political characteristics of each country.
  • Could we call this « Glocal » media communication: Global communication for local markets ?
adapting your message to the market
Adapting your message to the market
  • Rule number 1; Its not just about translating press information is about adapting all of your work to the media and the culture of that country
  • Each country has its own distinct media system, and journalists their own way of collecting and receiving information (Again find out as much as you can before getting started)
  • English may be the language of business but it may only get you so far…
some little practical examples
Some little practical examples
  • Try to find out as much as possible about how the media and journalists in that country work (working hours, how to receive info, deadlines, times to avoid etc)
  • UK: Take some time to get to know supplement editors and freelancers covering higher education
  • Germany : Be precise, concise and practical with the information you give
  • US : Make sure information is timely and linked to news
  • China : It is customary to pay the (« Transportation fees ») of journalists coming to press conferences
  • Spain : Beware of working hours: lunchtime is approx (14h30 to 16h00) ; the importance of getting to know people and one to one meetings
  • Italy : How does your strategy/news affect my country.
things to bear in mind
Things to bear in mind
  • Press releases:
  • What is the news « scoop » angle : Make sure something is really news in that country before starting
  • Trends and counter trends :Try and look at trends and counter trends ( and see how you can add value in this way – examples – mergers of universities, tuition fees, mobility of students – can you demonstrate you are part of a wider trends or go against the ‘norm’. )
  • Affinity :- Always ask the question/ Why should this interest somone in X or Y country? reading about higher education ( examples of good practice, new trends they should be aware of, possibilities for their students/staff in your country)
some examples of global issues that work well everywhere
Some examples of ‘global’ issues that work well everywhere
  • Exciting new programmes (something unique, ‘quirky’, or something really relevant to target population)
  • Or ‘innovative’ teaching methods (mobile phones…links to companies)
  • Campaigns to recruit student and staff from that country (with background)
  • Interesting research (that impacts one or more countries: e.g. Problems of email communication, football + how that affects the stock exchange, or case studies)
  • International Ranking supplements (make use of the full editorial)
case study eua trends report
Case study: EUA Trends report
  • Flagship EUA study : A survey of more than 900 universities from across Europe analysing how the Bologna process has been implemented
  • Published every two years. Visually translates well across national borders, as Maps showing how each country has implemented degree reforms, ECTS, diploma supplement (and how this is evolving over time)
  • A ‘recognised’ study presented to higher education ministers during the Bologna Ministerial Summit
  • Lends itself to a pan European press campaign
  • Press release translated and adapted into six different languages ( focussed on major findings) working languages of EUA
  • Next time (six unique press releases with national analysis)
eua trends campaign
EUA Trends Campaign
  • 2007 Results; accounted for around 20% of all EUA coverage (and continues to be quoted and referred to through into 2008)
  • Reinforced EUA’s reputation as media expert on Bologna (50% of all coverage in 2007) in the run up to 2010 and the end of the Bologna process
  • Maps cross cultural communication – simple to understand
  • Lessons learned for next time – more national analysis is needed for journalists so they can have more national context
  • First and foremost: Decide why you need to target international press and what you hope to achieve?
  • Define ‘realistic’ resources, budget, and markets for campaign
  • Build an appropriate database, contact journalists. Set up a detailed calendar for the campaign and stick to it (make sure that the news will be delivered)
  • Set realistic targets and try to ‘hit them’
  • Define issues that are likely to be timely and of interest
conclusions 2
Conclusions 2
  • Make sure you adapt your message to the market
  • Be flexible and available to answer topics that are not related to your core plan
  • Above all, be persistent. Make sure you build and maintain relationships with journalists (be a point of contact for them)