Graduation is a huge event in the annual higher education calendar; a chance for universities to celebrate and showcase their talented students, bid them a fond farewell and inspire others to achieve the same.
This year, Leeds Beckett University hired us to deliver a bumper PR and social media campaign around Graduation week, a nostalgic dream for us, having donned the same gowns and hats to graduate from the PR course at Leeds Beckett a few (read a LOT) of years ago.
Our first job was to run a headline-grabbing media relations programme that would uncover the more newsworthy stories around this year’s batch of graduates, and get quality media coverage for them. From students who’d been snapped up for top global jobs before even finishing university, to future stars of the police force and football management, we crafted news stories and arranged photocalls that landed across regional and specialist press during Graduation week. It also helped to have Philip Schofield on campus for his daughter’s graduation ceremony, generating national coverage in the Daily Mail and Hello magazine, amongst others.
We also had nine honorary graduates to focus on, including a Paralympic superstar, an Olympic British diving coach and an Oscar and BAFTA winner, who all picked up their honorary doctorates during the week. Not only did we make sure the media covered their individual stories, we also wrote high impact, applause-worthy speeches about them that would be read out as they were given their awards on stage at Graduation.
The final part of our job was social storytelling across Graduation week, which includes three ceremonies per day, for five days. The week is always rich with brilliant stories and moments, and after recognising our natural nosiness and flair for spotting them, Leeds Beckett asked us to capture as many as we could on Instagram Stories and Snapchat. We planned ahead and created storyboards for each day, before setting off as social roving reporters.
From videos of proud parents and tearful graduates, to Boomerangs of obligatory hat-throwing and snaps of family celebrations, we captured the true essence of Graduation and streamed everything via Stories on the two channels. We were on campus for the whole five days, sneaking up on family hugs, soothing student nerves before they went on stage, and asking crying parents to ‘keep crying please’ for the camera. We even cosied up to our idol Philip Schofield, and made him and his family the star of several Stories.
The social Stories campaign was a huge success, viewed by thousands every day. We became pretty well-known around campus as the week went on, with people desperate to appear on our Stories and other students tweeting about how excited the Stories were making them about their own graduation.
It was a real honour to be part of the Class of 2017 and #BeckettGrads activity. While our feet were sore by the end of the week, and our iPhones bursting with images of black mortar boards, we loved seeing all the different strands of our work come together to bring the magic of Leeds Beckett Graduation week to life.
If you’ve got an event coming up where you might need similar support, get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org / 0113 397 9892.