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This week we’ve been talking about creative communications planning for colleges and universities, tying in with our theme of ‘branding and messaging’.

So here, education PR expert, Claire Marshall, has picked out some of her favourite examples of some creative PR and communication projects from our archive of blog posts and case studies to give you some inspiration of your own.


University of East Anglia: AshTag campaign

I haven’t picked this as my top campaign because I am a Norfolk girl I promise. I just simply love this clever, innovative campaign and the way in which they went about it. Click on the heading above for the full article, which I wrote when the UEA won a Guardian University Award for communications.

But in essence this was a swiftly put together PR project that took advantage of a sudden flurry of press interest on the topic of native Ash trees under serious threat from Ash dieback disease. In a step away from the norm the Adapt Low Carbon Group at the UEA decided to create and launch an App – called AshTag (truly genius name) to encourage the public to track the spread of the disease on their phone and in essence generally raise awareness of the issue.

Their PR team did a fantastic job, working around the clock organising press interviews, gaining coverage on major TV networks and in the printed and online press.

What this shows us is, you don’t need to be actively promoting your college or university to achieve PR success. UEA gained coverage all over the national and regional news by jumping quickly onto the back of a current affairs issue. Despite the fact the coverage was largely about Ash dieback, it would have had a hugely positive impact on the university as a whole.


University of Loughborough: Eat Your Campus

And from one Guardian award-winner to another, the University of Loughborough demonstrated a more student-focused campaign that was centred on the university itself, and highlighted it as an institution that’s environmentally friendly and seeks to look after its students in a wholesome way.

As you’ll see in the full article, if you click on the heading above, it centred around a project started previously to grow fruit trees around the campus – but turned into a campaign to encourage the students to help themselves to the free bounty – and quite literally ‘eat their campus’.

Their PR tactics were very different to those of the UEA above, with more student-run events, workshops and community partnerships, which would have developed great local links and resulted in regional press coverage. They also created a website and blog associated with the project and used social media to push out the message.


PR planning for college admissions: Woodhouse College

This isn’t a single campaign, but more an example of PR and communications planning for Further Education colleges. What it demonstrates is the process of planning out a 12-month PR strategy that ensures consistent press coverage on a range of topics leading up to admissions and enrolment. I’ve included it here because sometimes colleges are looking to publicise only the obvious; exam results, league tables and awards.

But don’t forget students will choose a college based on more than just statistics, they will take into consideration the type of college or sixth-form you are, the teaching staff, the extra curricula activities and the ethos and ‘feel’ of the place. Your communications need to demonstrate all these things. Click on the heading above to find out more in this example of a sixth-form college in North London.


If you think you need some help with creative communications at your college or university, take a look at our Message and Branding brochure