Beyond Niche School Rankings: Public Relations Strategies For Your School

If an item you see on Amazon has a 2.1 rating with two negative comments, are you going to buy it? Of course not!

Today’s technology-driven consumer no longer relies on in-person visits or on-campus tours. Consumers first base next steps of the academic journey on a strong digital presence, online tours/videos and, most importantly, peer reviews.

Niche is today’s leading public platform intended to rank private US secondary educational institutions and communities. The single letter grade assigned to each school is comprised by scaling basic school stats, then allowing students the ability to compare your program on a national level. This, my friends, is the power of what shared public data can accomplish when leveraged in a digital age – disrupting this niche industry.

Let’s delve into public relations best practices by reviewing crucial steps in forming a communication structure to improving your school’s true “first impression.”

  1. Establish What Online Platforms Matter

Prioritize based on data and sales feedback.

In the case of secondary private high schools, the below public sites tend to have the most impact on your brand, reputation, and new leads generation.

  • School Website
  • Niche
  • WeChat (China-specific)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter (mainly facing US-based natural parents)
  • Instagram

Beyond the above platforms, your school’s brand can be validated by getting recognized in local and national media outlets’, specifically annual rankings. Getting on these lists can optimize and balance one’s portfolio, so be sure to consider how to incorporate sources such as Business Insider, Forbes or US News & World Report.

  1. Set and Measure Annual KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

The internet is infinite, so set realistic goals and benchmarks to measure success and encourage quarterly reflection.

Many schools will leave this article motivated to ask students to write reviews on their Niche page, but please proceed with caution. Without precise guideless and supervision, this public relations campaign can backfire based on a bad test grade, student disciplinary action, etc. Timing and having an end goal are essential with all communication.

Focusing specifically on KPIs, get buy-in and support from other teams. Not only should this initiative be built into school leadership’s annual goals, but also departmental. Content creation and brand promotion should be an instilled behavior that becomes instinct, but how one gets there requires creatively and diligence.

Example KPIs may include having a Facebook ranking of 4.0, making the Top 100 Best High Schools in America list, or increasing a Niche score from a B+ to an A-.

  1. Create Structure & Rhythm, Assign Responsibility

Dedicate 3-5 hours per week.

Seeing administrator engagement on social comments is nice to see, but not always needed or wanted. Sometimes it’s best to let a sleeping dog lay. But never, never delete comments from social platforms unless there are derogatory or personal afflictions. It’s unlikely to make the person go away and deleting their post may just incentivize them to post more.

Create a basic template and internal reference guide for staff to easily understand the purpose of this PR campaign. Provide sample links for them to share, ways for them to engage and lastly any current shout-outs recognizing those who

An easy way to address negative comments is by continuously publishing success stories and having real-time, relevant data.

  1. Review, Reflect, Optimize and Begin Step 1…Again

What was the impact of your efforts? Did you increase click rates, user session duration, or conversions?

As an admissions officer wearing a marketing and public relations hat (and most likely many more!), a daily word to begin incorporating into your vocabulary is optimization. In today’s volatile market, continuous change through ongoing reflection provides flexibility within your organization by always keeping customer expectations in mind.

Whatever your reflection frequency is, compare goals verse actual progress to identify the gaps. Recreate your goals, re-align amongst the team, and then optimize your marketing and public relations efforts.

Interested in Specific Feedback for your Program?

Reach out to your Program Manager (PM) and for a personalized review of your school’s online presence, where to prioritize and how to set/meet goals.

Visit our blog section to learn about industry trends, international program best practices, ways to engage students, and more.

For schools looking for more information on Cambridge Network and our services, please submit an inquiry form.