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Once upon a time, schools were pretty much local news only. It was rare to see a school board meeting on national news or to hear a state governor weigh in so heavily on what teachers can say in the classroom. But today, education news is big news. With education issues at the center of a divisive culture war, education editors are being bombarded with more pitches and press releases than ever. To learn how to get their attention about the amazing work you’re doing, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of the editors who get hundreds of emails a day. Here are a handful of ways to rise above the fray.
Education technology companies don’t usually make national media headlines for their products. That’s okay because that’s not where your customers get their purchasing recommendations. Your audience is often local, and they rely on education-oriented media such as education newsletters, groups, and platforms like K12leaders.com.
But if you want to catch editors’ attention, don’t ignore trending stories. Read newsletters, media, and relevant hashtags that keep you up-to-date on trending topics in the industry. Editors of education media have a mandate to connect their coverage to the larger news, so pitching them a story about your brand that connects with trending stories or national news will make their job easier, which will make them more likely to read and accept your pitch. Don’t just jump on the coattails of a trending news story, though: try to offer a unique perspective or different solution. If you can do this, editors will start to see you as a resource, not another email to be skimmed and deleted.
The academic buying cycle creates unique challenges for marketing, sales, and public relations. But you can let the academic year work for you. Time your pitches or press releases to address what educators (and therefore the education media) will be thinking about when the content is finally published. Do you have a great back-to-school story? Pitch it over the summer so it has time to develop and appear just when it has the best chance of capturing educators’ attention.
More eyeballs don’t necessarily mean better results. Posting a press release on PRWeb or PRNewswire may earn you millions of impressions, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to connections with the types of district leaders who make purchasing decisions about your product. Our strategy often involves combining this sort of wide exposure with targeted outreach to education-focused (and even topic-specific) media outlets, which are more likely to be sources of trusted information for education leaders.
So you launched a new product. Congratulations, but that’s not a story. At least, it’s not the story that will grab editors’ attention or capture the hearts and minds of your buyer personas. Start with a clear idea of what you offer that no one else does. What problem does your product solve? Who, specifically, does it help the most? When you’ve answered these questions, tell a story that connects to the common goal of everyone working in education: helping kids learn.
Whether you’re a new company just launching or an established player with a refreshed story, take every opportunity to show that you’re passionate about what you do, who (and how) you help, and that you have clear goals. Innovative product features are a start, and proven efficacy and results are fundamental, but after that, it’s the passion and mission that differentiates you.
When do you want to see your story published? Will your campaign bring more sales leads to your website? How long might that take? The education buying cycle is long. Sometimes, educators, technologists, superintendents, or other decision-makers will read about you and then file you away for the next budget cycle. Sometimes, your story will surface several times over months as it makes its way through various levels of bureaucracy.
Let us know if you'd like to hear more about how new members of PRP's client family start with a series of workshops, including “story ideation,” in which our team works with yours to develop your most compelling stories for the education market.
When you’re pitching to the education market, success is defined by what publications cover you and how. It’s not just “did the publication run a news blurb about our new feature,” but the total picture of how many of your targeted publications you got coverage in. The more coverage you get, the more awareness you build among the education leaders who matter to you. It’s a process that plays out over months or even years, but it will pay off if you’re patient. So be sure to define what success looks like, and think about it in the short, medium, and long term.
Check out the other posts in our starter guide and get a view into how some of the top EdTech companies manage their reputations through PR and Communications.