CommsED Nov 2019

For those in comms and marketing, education is a challenging sector. It’s highly political, the workforce is fragmented and behaves more like a consumer market than a business one. Most importantly, the stakes are high – after all, we’re dealing with children’s futures.

So, although we love it, being an education comms and marketing professional can be tough.

CommsED is our way of making things easier. Everything we do is based on a belief that a problem shared is a problem halved. We run CommsED because we think it’s good to have a chat, a laugh and even a moan with people that do similar things to you.

We hosted our second CommsED event in November and it is clear that what we're doing is working. We have a growing waiting list, more people turned up than we could fit in and no-one wanted to leave. Clear signs of success!

Shelley Morgan, the driving force behind Bett 2020, described it as: “Small, intimate, and enough time to talk to people.” More than anything, people told us it made them feel special.

Andrew Carrick, comms strategy expert and fresh out of agency land, summed it up: “We’re a special niche with some lovely people who do comms AND care about their education world, so it’s nice to meet like-minded people with the same challenges who probably work on their own or in tiny teams.”

Finally, a shout out to Roxhill, the leading real-time media intelligence platform, who sponsor CommsED and kept us all hydrated. A couple of glasses of wine are always appreciated by the education comms crowd!

If you’d like to know more about CommsED, please get in touch with Anna or Susan:

anna@pedrozacommunications.co.uk or susan@pedrozacommunications.co.uk.


Why do we need PR in education marketing? 


Selling to schools is a challenge. First, you need to capture your audience’s attention and once you have it, you then must convince them to act.

Motivating people to change something they do in the classroom, or across the whole school requires you to be persuasive, trustworthy and inspiring. As humans, we naturally like to stick to what we know. 
This is where PR can be incredibly effective. Why? PR is fundamentally different to marketing because it is not based on buying our attention; it is earned attention. PR is all about securing attention based on merit. When an impartial third party is doing the talking, it implicitly communicates to your audience that what you’re doing is important.

Getting teachers talking about you

The media gets us all talking; to our friends, colleagues and families. We share things with each other; tips, advice and opinions. Those in education are exactly the same, and that includes the half a million people who are teachers.

Coverage in the media gets teachers talking about you and what you do. It powers thousands of social media shares and posts every single day. It builds your credibility and engages your audience. Because however much you tell your audience what you do is amazing, they’re unlikely to believe it or act on it until they hear from a colleague or friend. It’s human nature.

PR vs. Marketing

Many of our clients ask us why they should invest in PR over marketing? At Pedroza Comms, we see how the strongest brands are built on what people are saying about them, rather than what they are saying about themselves.

Creating engaging marketing content is important but you need to build your foundations on trust. Trust is fundamental in driving your audience to support your brand and share your content. This is where you can leverage PR to demonstrate that the wider world is interested in your brand and what you are doing.

Coverage on a platform or in a publication is an implicit endorsement and a valuable way to build and establish trust with audiences and prospective investors too.

PR also strengthens your position as an expert in your field. If a platform or publication is citing your opinion, that further reinforces trust in your brand.

So why do we need PR in education marketing? Because a third-party endorsement is the most effective way to build trust with your audience, to raise your profile and to strengthen your brand.

Click here for tips on how to get the most value from your PR.


Education marketing and communications: Could coaching help you achieve more?

Many education organisations I work with will employ just one person to oversee their marketing and comms. And even in larger organisations, comms and marketing is regularly one of the smaller teams. I am always impressed with the breadth of work that marketing professionals do; spinning lots of plates to keep their organisations in the spotlight. If that's you - well done!

Marketing and comms is a challenging role that can be quite isolating. You’re typically not part of the senior leadership team, which can limit your input on wider strategy and of course there's always that pressure to deliver results.

My own experience in education marketing and comms has seen me working on both client and agency side, managing teams of staff and working alone. I know the pressures and challenges of marketing and comms roles all too well.

That’s why I’ve decided to offer specialist coaching support to education marketing and comms professionals who want to increase effectiveness. Here are just a few of the skills you can expect to gain from working with me:

  • A marketing vision and strategy which is understood and supported by your senior team
  • A refreshed proposition that engages your target market
  • Greater insight into how to analyse data to understand existing and potential customers
  • Increased confidence as an education marketing and comms expert

Here's some feedback from one of my coaching clients, James Bywood, Marketing Manager at Penstripe:

“Anna provides an excellent marketing sounding board. Not only helping me to create a rounded marketing strategy but supporting the implementation through her logical approach and experience of ‘what works’. I can now confidently communicate my vision for the marketing to peers and management and look forward to seeing this increased focus reflected in new leads and an increase in sales conversions."

Here are just a few of the skills that you can expect to gain through working with me:

  • Ability to clearly communicate your marketing vision and strategy
  • Ability to confidently set tangible new goals and measure them
  • Ability to create a proposition that engages your target market
  • Increased confidence as an education marketing and comms expert
  • Develop a thriving marketing and comms function
  • Ability to analyse data to help you understand existing and potential customers
  • Increased engagement with new audiences

Whether you need a sounding board, a listening ear, (or simply a place to have a rant!) I’m here to help. If you're interested, please call 07813 938 020 or click here to book a free 30-minute consultation.


CommsED – a new star in the education comms world

In the education comms world, making connections is essential and at Pedroza Comms, our networks are incredibly important. They help us to spread the word about campaigns and activities, to build new partnerships and to provide our clients greater reach for their campaigns. We also try to help those in our network by promoting their campaigns, sharing content and helping with contacts and other advice.

Our new CommsED network is for those involved in education comms and marketing and aims to help us all to make new comms and marketing contacts across education. CommsED was launched on Wed 26 June at the RSA in London and refreshments were kindly supported by Roxhill, the topic-led media database.

The launch event brought together a mix of senior people from across the education sector. Participants were carefully selected to give a good balance from different areas of education. It wasn’t about the size of the crowd, instead the aim was to host an event where guests could make useful connections, share ideas and be inspired.

We’re pleased to say the first CommsED was a storming success with brilliant conversation, networking and new connections. Thanks to our founding CommsED posse: BAFTA, BBC, BEIS, Imperial College London, Lit Film Festival, NASEN, Pivotal, Place2Be, Pobble, Sparx, The Week Junior, Third Space Learning and Vision Teaching for helping to launch our CommsED star!

We’re planning our next event for the early autumn and we hope that CommsED can help everyone involved in education comms and marketing to grow their networks and build supportive links.

If you’d like to know more about CommsED do get in touch with Anna at anna@pedrozacommunications.co.uk or 07813 938 020


Practical PR tips for edtech to engage schools

The recent DfE edtech strategy highlights that schools and edtech need to communicate more effectively. PR is all about communication and putting things in plain language that can be understood by non-techie people. This makes it great for explaining new, and sometimes challenging, edtech products and services.

Here are 9 practical PR tips we regularly recommend to edtech companies to help them to communicate effectively with schools, to engage teachers (and others) and help to support their sales

1. Prove that you make a difference

Research that shows how your tech makes a difference in schools is a really valuable PR asset and can be used in press releases, opinion and comment. Services like Edtech Impact or BESA’s LendED can help edtech companies to engage directly with schools to gather valuable feedback, or work with other partners, such as universities.

2. Know your audience

The media that is consumed by your target audience is where you need to try and place coverage. It may be tempting to reach out to as many journalists as possible, but your time will be better invested if you target the media your audience will see.

3. Big education issues attract attention

A look through the national print and sector media will give you an idea of the issues that are newsworthy, for example, school funding, teacher workload, or teacher recruitment. The trick is to think about how the impact of your product or service links to prominent themes in the news. How does it make a difference? What have you discovered that could help schools and teachers?

4. Lose the tech

Don’t waste time trying to PR your latest technical development to education or mainstream media. The ‘tech’ in edtech is rarely a hook for an education journalist. Instead, reach out to edtech bloggers & influencers (more on these below) and invite them to try out the tech pre-launch. Ask them for reviews and help to promote any blog on news item on your website

5. Influencers

There are plenty of ways that you can work with influencers to spread the word of your product or service. An influencer doesn’t have to be someone with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Instead, they need to be respected by your target audience.  If you’d like to know more about how to find and work with influencers, download our step-by-step guide to influencer marketing.

6. Exploit coverage to the full

Make sure you squeeze maximum value from any PR to ensure your PR activity supports content marketing and SEO. Also, show coverage to your sales team so they can share it with existing customers and prospects.

7. Do it yourself

If you’re struggling to find ways to PR your edtech company why not create a new initiative or event? Events like Maths Week London, which has been developed by edtech company Sum Dog, or Lit Film Festival produced by A Tale Unfolds are both good examples of this approach.

8. Be opinionated

An issue that is repeatedly covered by the media is how tech will change the classroom. If you have strong opinions about the use of tech in schools, then there could be some great opportunities to comment on news stories. Set up Google alerts for keywords to monitor the media and when a story breaks, issue a comment to your target media. Click here for more advice on how to get a letter published in a national newspaper or online news site.

9. Finally, don’t forget parents & children

Mainstream media regularly reports on education from the perspective of its impact on children and young people. Parents are often asked to comment or may feature in case studies. Unlike the education sector media, they are less interested in the difference something might specifically make to teaching in the classroom. To appeal to mainstream media identify how your edtech product or services makes a difference to learners’ lives. Develop stories and angles that link to this and your news story is much more likely to appeal to mainstream media.

Good luck generating coverage for your edtech company. Please get in touch to tell us what you have found that works for you, or if you’d like to talk about the ways that we can help you to generate more effective PR.

 


We’ve Partnered With The Education Media Centre

Would you like to help a small charity to champion the cause of evidence-based education and raise the profile of your own work at the same time? Now you can!

We’re delighted to announce that Pedroza Communications has formed a partnership with The Education Media Centre to help organisations get noticed in the schools sector.

The EMC is the UK`s only independent charity dedicated to raising public and media awareness of research and evidence behind the education stories in the news. The EMC exists to provide journalists with briefings on new research and help education institutions to communicate research more clearly.

Under this new arrangement, the EMC will introduce us to their supporters and in return, we will give the charity 10 per cent of everything their supporters spend on our services. This in turn will help the charity step up its work with the news media, ensuring that the best evidence about what works in education gets to those who can use it.

Everyone who works with us in this way through the EMC will be acknowledged on their website as an EMC supporter, have a link to your website on theirs, and you'll be able to mention you are an EMC supporter on publicity materials.

Fran Abrams, CEO, Education Media Centre says:

“I’m delighted that EMC is forging this new relationship with Pedroza Communications. Our mission as a charity is to try to get the best evidence about education to those who can use it, and we hope this arrangement will enable us to do more to further that aim.”

We’re looking forward to working more closely with the EMC, supporting the charity, and having the chance to work with an even wider range of organisations and businesses involved in education.


How you can use new research to generate PR

If you look through any newspaper or browse any education news platform, you’re likely to see stories linked to new research. In this article we look at how you can use research to secure valuable coverage.

Why research is important for PR

New findings from research can be a great way to create a news story that will attract media coverage. In the education sector, that could be brand new information that typically examines an education issue or concern- anything from the off-rolling of students, to the use of learning platforms in secondary schools, to the ways in which schools are using lunchtime supervisors, can warrant research. Types of research can include:

  • Large scale, long-term research studies
  • Small research studies
  • Individual surveys
  • Annual ‘state of the nation’ reports that compare year-on-year findings

How can you conduct useful research that doesn’t cost the earth?

Unless you’re a university or you have access to a large in-house research team, it is likely you will need to commission an organisation to undertake the research. This could be a university department, a market research company, a polling company, a think tank, or simply a freelance researcher.

If you’re a membership body, or you represent a particular audience, you may well be able to research your members and gather useful insight. Members can provide valuable information but be aware that journalists may be more sceptical about the findings if they feel they are self serving.

Another option is to mine the data that your organisation collects and look for findings which have wider implications. For instance, The Key publishes a useful annual report about the schools sector which is based on their own data.

A quick word on opinion polls

Opinion polls are a useful and cost effective way to gather information from a particular group of individuals, such as teachers. They can help to inform more detailed research but they are also used in PR as stand alone research. This is OK, but ensure you work with a Market Research Society accredited polling company and that the sample size is large enough to be able to extract useful information. A minimum sample should be 1001 respondents, but if you plan to cut the data at a regional level, the sample needs to be larger so that the data is still robust. More information about polling can be found here.

Creating a research-led story

Although there may be many findings that are interesting, it’s essential that you think about what is actually newsworthy. What is going to appeal to the journalists you plan to target? Is there more than one angle?

Draft the release and ensure you explain the research methodology, who undertook it and when it was undertaken. Be prepared to share the full report and possibly the underlying data that has informed the research.

As well as the right news line, make sure you can offer a range of spokespeople and case studies. These can include:

  • A representative of your organisation who can discuss the research findings and their implications
  • An external expert who can provide comment on the wider picture (sometimes one of the contributors to the research)
  • Individual ‘case studies’ who can talk about their own experience, for example if research was about workload in early career teachers, then a teacher who has been in the profession for a couple of years would be ideal.

Pitching your research story – what NOT to do  

Ed Dorrell, Head of Content at Tes has some useful pointers for education PRs pitching research stories:

  • Avoid overblown claims about the implications of research such as "a revolution in teaching methods”. Instead, let the research speak for itself
  • Avoid confusing correlation with causation – a common mistake. A correlation alone does not imply causation
  • Don’t ‘dress up’ small research studies to appear something more than they are. Be honest about the scope of your research
  • Don’t claim conclusions which seem too good to be true. Most journalists can smell an exaggeration a mile away!

Don’t let the tail wag the dog

Research should never be commissioned simply to generate headlines, that may be a consideration, but the value of research is much more than just coverage. It can help to push forward a debate, influence thinking and help an organisation to hold a more authoritative position. It also provides valuable material for talks, sales information, newsletters, social media and online.

What’s important is that you don’t miss opportunities for media coverage. Make sure you plan early on and ensure your research asks the right questions to provide useful insight and some valuable news angles.

So there you have it. Good luck pitching your education research. As usual, if you have any questions about how to use research in PR then do get in touch. We’d love to hear your ideas and discuss any ways that we could help.


Education PR: What Journalists really want to know

The key to a great press campaign lies in knowing what journalists are really looking for in a news story. So before you start pitching your next campaign, take a few minutes to discover what journalists really want to hear.

Research & relevance

If you really want to understand what will interest the journalist and their readers, invest some time in looking at their output. Which issues do they seem most concerned about? It can be tempting to pitch every story to as many journalists as possible, but this is rarely a good idea. Sending irrelevant press releases to a journalist is more likely to damage your relationship with them than to help you build a strong connection. So, pitch to the journalists who you think are most likely to find your story relevant to their audience.

News hooks

A news hook is what makes your story relevant and is why a journalist may want to cover it. Start by asking yourself the question, 'so what?’ and focus on why your story is important today. For example, what will happen if everyone ignores your latest research? What impact will this have? When you pitch make sure your hook is summarised in the subject line of an email and reiterated in the first line of the email. Click here for more tips on how to create a good news story.

Good timing

It’s not a secret that journalists are busy people. To maximise your chances of reaching them on the phone, avoid calling radio or TV journalists when their show is on air, and don’t call weekly on monthly publications on their press day (that’s the day they put the publication to bed).

Facts and evidence

‘Fake news’ is a real concern amongst journalists and readers these days and for good reason. The increased awareness makes people more sceptical about the news that they consume and for this reason, journalists will want to know that the information you’re providing is accurate. Double-check any facts and figures that you’re sharing and make sure you can defend every point in your press release.

A press release

According to Cision’s 2018 ‘Global State of the Media’ study, when it comes to valuable content, reporters and editors still trust a press release most. 63% of those involved in the study said that news and announcements are the two key things that they want from their PR contacts. Click here for more advice on how to pitch your story.

Data and expert sources

Try to be as helpful as you can by providing additional information relating to your story. If you can help a journalist with researching their stories, they are more likely to see you as an asset and may even start to reach out to you for support or comment in the future.

Video and audio

Including audio and video in your pitch can increase the likelihood of your story being published. Stories with additional multimedia assets are often more popular amongst readers and these assets also save the journalist from having to source additional content.

Links to awareness days

Pitching your story on the relevant awareness day is a great idea but you need to have a good story. Make sure that the awareness day is relevant to the journalist’s audience and ensure that you have something good to hook to the day. If you’re looking for a list of education-specific awareness days, our up-to-date calendar is a good place to start.

Finally, the best way to pitch your story is to put yourself in the shoes of the journalist. What would you do if you were writing a news story based on some new research, working on a package for a TV news piece or developing ideas for a feature in a monthly magazine? What would interest others? Thinking like a journalist is the best way to put together a pitch that will succeed in getting attention.


cpd schools spend

TDT analysis shows CPD spend has fallen by £23.2 million

I’m very proud to be a Trustee of the Teacher Development Trust (TDT). Earlier this month the Trust released the results of new analysis they conducted into schools’ Continued Professional Development (CPD) budgets. The analysis was undertaken by school data specialists School Dash.

The report, which includes schools across the UK, shows that spending on CPD has fallen by £23.2 million in 12 months, with spending falling by 12% in secondary schools and 7% for primary schools.

These results come after the National Foundation for Educational Research voiced concerns about the value of CPD, especially for newly trained teachers starting in the classroom.

TDT’s Chief Executive, David Weston, has warned that funding constraints are to blame for the huge drop in spending on CPD, although it has also been suggested that more schools and trusts are choosing to train staff in-house as a most cost-effective alternative.

You can read the full report here and it’s also been reported in Schools Week and The Independent.


bett show pr education

How to secure PR during Bett 2019: our tips

Bett starts tomorrow and if you’re exhibiting at the event, we hope you’re feeling prepared and ready to make the most of your presence. Generating PR during the event is a great way to promote your presence and ensure your potential customers know about you. Read on for our top tips for creating a PR buzz during Bett 2019.

Make contact with journalists

Keep tabs on the journalists that are attending and formulate a plan to engage with them. One way is to keep an eye on their Twitter streams. They may well Tweet when they are at Bett, giving you an opportunity to reach out to them.

Connect with the event organisers

Brief the show organisers about what you are doing that’s newsworthy each day. WithPR is the PR agency handling all media at BETT, so get in touch and ask them which journalists they are expecting to attend and on which day.

TV opportunities

Wednesday is generally the day when broadcast media attend Bett. TV needs to have something interesting to film. If you're showcasing something eye-catching, a well-known expert is attending your stand, or there are some school children trying out your tech, this could appeal to TV journalists. Get in touch with the press office and find out when they expect any TV crews and what you can offer.

Consider ways to attract attention

Prepare a few things that will draw attention to your stand and provide film or photo opportunities. These could include hands-on demos, audience participation, eye-catching guest visitors or VIPs.

Be opportunistic!

Don’t be shy! If you spot a journalist or blogger, say hello! Badges will usually make it clear if someone is a journalist. Ask them who they report for and what they’re interested in, then think about whether you can help them. If not, you could try and suggest a fellow exhibitor.

Review the speaker schedule

Journalists are often co-opted to chair panels. Check the speaker line up to see if anyone is listed. If a journalist is chairing the session, ask a question, and sit right at the front so you can have a quick chat with them at the end of the session.

Prepare some print materials

Don’t underestimate the value of flyers and business cards. They can be a great way to remind a journalist of your product or initiative after the event, so don’t be afraid to hand them out.

Finally, good luck with Bett 2019! We look forward to seeing you there. If you’d like to meet up, please give me a call on +44 (0)7813 938 020 or you can email me.