CAMPAIGNS: ITU targets media to buoy its public education efforts

PR Team: International Technological University (Santa Clara, CA) and Panache Communications (San Francisco) Campaign: ITU media awareness Time Frame: April-June 2003 Budget: Less than $5,000

PR Team: International Technological University (Santa Clara, CA) and Panache Communications (San Francisco) Campaign: ITU media awareness Time Frame: April-June 2003 Budget: Less than $5,000

When ITU opened its doors in Silicon Valley in 1994, it had a goal of providing an array of superior mathematic, engineering, and technology academic programs, with an eye on the needs of local companies. But as a small university with an enrollment of 150 students, the college has never pumped much money into the market to build awareness. "Much of our resources have been focused on developing academic standards," explains Yau-Gene Chan, ITU's director of development. In order to grow, however, the school realized that it had to build awareness among potential investors and students. The school also wanted to enhance its reputation as a leading professional technology university, whose staff and faculty had deep roots in the tech and business communities. Strategy ITU hired Panache Communications, a San Francisco PR firm. Agency president Sharon Sim-Krause developed strategies to show ITU's involvement and roots in the local communities. One such media angle was to promote how the university was launching initiatives to help displaced technology workers in Silicon Valley through scholarships and streamlined degree programs. "We needed to find a news hook," says Sim-Krause. "So we wanted to bring attention to how the university was interested in helping those who had been laid off get some additional education and training." Tactics In addition to the local press, Panache also reached out to the hi-tech media, the local ethnic media, as well as other technology communities on the West Coast, including Seattle. "It was important to frame these stories not just about us being a technology university, but also about how we are very responsive to changes in the community and market," says Chan. "When the downturn came, we were ready to help. We responded by raising money to help students continue their education." "We also focused on Dr. Shu-Park Chan, who founded the university, and his involvement in the community," adds Sim-Krause. "We wanted to present everything the university was doing as part of a larger trend. It couldn't be just about the university, but about the role it was playing in the community and the economy." Results The San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley Business Journal, San Jose Business Journal, and The Seattle Times all featured stories on ITU and its connections to the hi-tech industry, as well as its efforts to help laid-off hi-tech employees. The ethnic media also provided coverage, including stories in World Journal, Sing Tao Daily, Manila Mail, Korea Times, Hokubei Mainichi, and Viet Mercury. The media coverage led to a 10% to 15% increase in the number of students seeking to enroll at the school. The media coverage also attracted a mix of alumni, other educational institutions, and hi-tech companies seeking to get involved with the university. Former students sought to get in touch with the founder to help with financial support. One of the founders of the University of Phoenix contacted ITU about a joint collaboration. And Synnex Information Technologies reached out to the school seeking to help develop courses and a curriculum. Future ITU intends to continue with its aggressive community outreach efforts, particularly with the media. "These efforts have been much more effective than advertising for us," says Chan. "It's more effective, and more cost-efficient. We're looking forward to a continued partnership with Panache. They are very responsive to our needs."

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