We’ve been reliving our university days (kind of – we’ve had to be more well behaved this time) after being appointed by Leeds Beckett University to provide PR support to their award-winning in-house marketing team.

We both studied PR at the University – it’s where our careers started – so being back at the beautiful Headingley campus has made us want to study all over again.

Instead of sitting in lecture theatres though, this summer we were lucky enough to work on a brilliant media relations and content campaign for the university, helping them with their busiest time of year – A-level results. As students waited to see which university they did or didn’t get into, higher education was a hive of activity as universities’ marketing efforts came to the fore in August to raise their profile amongst prospective students.

That’s where we came in. Leeds Beckett University asked us to come up with a strong campaign that would cut through in the hugely competitive race for national media coverage in the run up to A-level results day. University PR teams across the country all have the same objective here: to get education editors and correspondents to write about them positively, influencing their readers (students and parents) to think positively about their establishment as a result – so you can imagine how much noise we were competing against.

Many didn’t make the cut…but we did.

Our approach

Our approach was to create a series of news stories based on specially-commissioned research. We took different angles for different media based on the results, covering the fact that 1) university is officially the best time of our lives (we scientifically proved it), 2) how much students are incentivised by their parents for achieving exam success, and 3) differences in confidence levels in students up and down the country. That gave us loads of interesting data which we turned into media bait and strategically drip-fed to different outlets throughout the period running up to A-level results day.

Results

We generated over 30 pieces of quality media coverage during the week, including The Independent, Telegraph and Times, as well as full pages in local newspapers and key TV and radio station interviews from campus on A-level results day – something that was really critical to the client as broadcast coverage is proven to be extremely influential with students on that day. We also secured media coverage in key regions outside of Yorkshire where students often consider Leeds Beckett University as a top choice – again, another key objective of this year’s campaign.

We reached over three million people through our earned media activity, and created plenty of engaging owned-media content too, including case studies and infographics of the research results, which were used on a special content hub on the university website. Social media traction also took a jump when national newspapers tweeted our stories to their hundreds of thousands of followers.

Our happy client gave us a first class honours for our work on this campaign and we’re already plotting for the next one. I think that’s what you call top students.