Harnessing the power of the media to transform perceptions of your business school

25 January 2023

Toby Roe, co-founder of Roe Communications, reflects on the power of the media to transform perceptions and build reputation.


By generating positive press coverage, schools are leveraging third-party endorsement from influential journalists in their space. Their new-found visibility supports goals such as student recruitment, expanding into new markets, and attracting partners and clients.

A key strategy is identifying journalists and publications that cover business schools and their key themes. For example, a school that has a strong focus on sustainability can reach out to journalists who cover that topic and offer them news, insights and expert opinions from their faculty and students.

This is what Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM), a triple-accredited French school, has done. Eighteen months ago, the school recognised that to attract interest outside France, it needed to get more coverage in international media.

GEM identified and refined a list of international media outlets most likely to help it increase awareness. Crucially, the school decided to focus on the quality of readership versus the number of press clippings. Instead of peppering journalists with press releases and pitches, the team took time to identify the interests of each reporter and craft carefully tailored email pitches.

The results speak for themselves. In the first year, the school achieved 20 pieces of high-quality media coverage in international business education titles, including eight articles in the Financial Times - reaching 28.8 million online readers.

Increasingly, schools are also realising that media coverage is a powerful asset to use and reuse in multiple ways. By sharing coverage on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, they can continue to demonstrate their value and impact and increase engagement with their stakeholders. They are also using press coverage in presentations, sales pitches, brochures and on their websites, to name but a few.

This approach has been used by Highered, the online careers platform for EFMD, which works with 700 business schools and universities globally. Highered is using media relations to boost its position as a leading authority in careers and employability and raise awareness of its services.

Over the last 18 months, it has generated 28 pieces of coverage in influential publications, with over a million estimated views.
Crucially, it has used this coverage to generate 14k social engagements. In addition, it has used statistics from the media campaign in blogs, careers workshops, on the website and at major conferences.

When a journalist writes positive things about your business school, it conveys credibility. If you are thinking of starting a media relations campaign, it’s important to put the right building blocks in place.

Ask yourself:

1. Why are you doing this? What organisational goals do you want to support?

2. What areas of expertise do you most want to promote (max 5)?

3. Do you have a mechanism to access case studies, facts, figures and photography for journalists?

4. Have you identified some spokespeople - and do they need training?

5. Do you have the skills in-house to do this? Or do you need to recruit or outsource your media relations effort?

Finally, it’s important to remember that building a reputation takes time, effort and consistent messaging. By cultivating relationships with media outlets and leveraging your media coverage, you are on your way to generating significant visibility - and credibility - for your school.


Toby Roe is co-founder of Roe Communications, a specialist PR agency for business schools. He has helped business schools including Oxford Saïd, Grenoble, Exeter, ESSCA, Sydney and Sasin to achieve greater visibility in international media. Toby is also an experienced media trainer and copywriter and was previously Communications Director at Ashridge Business School.

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