Campaign: college creates stir over rebrand

Lancashire college Edge Hill was a major provider of further education opportunities in the North, offering teacher and medical training as well as degrees in a wide range of subjects.

At Easter, Edge Hill was set to gain university status, and in the run-up felt it needed to raise its profile. Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster was brought in to lead a national campaign.

Objectives
To raise awareness of Edge Hill University among stakeholders in higher education and increase awareness
nationally. 

Strategy and Plan
Because the institution was about to become a university, it needed to emphasise its high standards of teaching and research. It therefore put forward a panel of academics to discuss theirresearch and act as spokespeople.

Controversial issues were used as newshooks by the PR team to spice up the academic research, which might otherwise appear mundane. For example, a study by Dr Keith Crawford into how history textbooks have influenced British attitudes to Germany was linked to xenophobia against Germans in the run-up to the World Cup.

Another press release featured an investigation into whether Northern Ireland would benefit from having a ‘Truth Commission'. Material was tailored, with the broadsheets getting more highbrow summaries of the research than the tabloids.

The team presented the media with research that had produced counter-intuitive results, such as a report entitled ‘Boredom is good for you'.

The launch of this particular research was carefully planned and presented to journalists just before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, when many children face boredom in the school holidays and at family get-togethers.

When university lecturers carried out a series of strikes in March in protest at their pay, the team gave the education specialist press a response from the teacher-training perspective, looking at whether the strike would create a shortage of teachers. This highlighted the university as the largest trainer of teachers in the UK.

Measurement and Evaluation
Nationally, the Daily Star, The Guardian, the Press Association, The Sun and the BBC all covered the campaign. At least ten radio stations (including BBC GMR), also ran stories, along with TV programmes North West Tonight and UKTV Food.

The campaign was covered by 25 regional newspapers, including the Lancashire Evening Post, Stafford Express and Manchester Evening News.

Results
Before the campaign, Edge Hill had garnered little media exposure locally and none nationally. After the campaign, it was mentioned in 37 local, and 30 national, news items.

No measurement firm was used, although Biss Lancaster estimates the campaign produced ‘20 million opportunities to see'. Edge Hill says it is now regarded as a leading provider of teaching and education in the area.

‘Biss Lancaster understood how our media worked, which not everyone in PR does,' says Radio Five Live
presenter Derek Ives, who covered the campaign for the station.

‘The agency was helpful, identified good angles for us to use and was willing to kick ideas about. Overall, it was a job done well,' he adds.

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