Public Relations can be a powerful tool by assisting educational institutions to portray a proper image to the community. This is much more prevalent for institutions of higher education that may rely more on a public image to maintain a balance of new applicants. It might be an internal PR team employed by the institution or can it can be an outside firm hired to deal with a looming crisis. Universities deal with PR conflicts regularly involving prestige and size. However, it has recently been asked if primary & secondary educational facilities, often part of public school districts, should also use their own PR department.
Since academics and its impact on the public presents its own unique challenges. Higher education is concerned about the school’s reputation both with the public and with employers. Additionally, their challenges include university budgets, or student and faculty relations.
As a student at Grand Valley State University, I have observed a potential incident slowly unfold. The incident has to do with a recent Lanthorn article discussing how GVSU (a public institution) seems to cares more about its private donors then creating an environment to develop higher learning. While I am paraphrasing, this implication can lead to opportunities where college officials might be perceived to retaliate against the writer of the article, because the article is unfavorable to the Universities public image. The crisis began when FIRE (foundation for individual rights in education) got ahold of the story and has attempted to bring it to the forefront of the media. Recently, in an attempt to control some of the damage from this story, GVSU sent an email to all students about hosting a Town Hall type of meeting to address the current state of student feelings on the issue of private donors. For the university it a good way to publically address all students and understand their feelings about private donors, as opposed to engaging only the opposing organization.
In the new form of media and communications there are many outlets for opposing voices to be heard. This is making it more important for public and private school districts to have PR departments, which would help them, develop a strategic message supporting the public image they wish to present to the community. Communication and transparency are two of the ground level goal of public relations and would help the school districts explain their goals and how they are properly utilizing state funding.
Communication is never a bad thing and it is important for academic institutions to portray a positive image to the public. Whether a private institution of education or public school, those in charge need get out ahead of any potential issues and show that issues are being addressed in a proper and expected manner. Public Relations can be powerful tools to assist educational institutions portray the proper image for the community.
Cherenson, M. (1925, October 12). Success Communications Group We help our clients communicate. Recruitment advertising, public relations, traditional advertising, social networking, association management and interactive Web design are our core services.. Success Communications Group RSS. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from https://successcomgroup.com/schools-districts-public-relations/
Cohn, A. (2014, January 14). FIRE. FIRE. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.thefire.org/grand-valley-state-administrators-attack-newspaper-staff-for-criticizing-donor-handling/
Veil, S. R. (2010). Using Crisis Simulations in Public Relations Education. Communication Teacher, 24(2), 58-62. doi:10.1080/17404621003680906
Wynne, R. (2013, July 30). Lessons In Higher Education Public Relations. Forbes. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2013/07/30/lessons-in-higher-education-public-relations/2/