Parents in the UK take their children’s education very seriously. They know that attending the right school can make all the difference in the world when it comes to career opportunities later in life. The internet now makes it easier than ever to evaluate schools and create a list of the top choices based on a number of different criteria.
Many parents are already doing this for primary and secondary schools, but when it comes to universities the competition is even fiercer. League table ranking isn’t just an arbitrary number; falling one or two places in the standing can make a big difference in the number of applicants and the talent-level of the students who decide to attend.
Online Reputation Is Important
As well as academic ranking, prospective parents and students will also be considering every aspect of the schools reputation. Social media makes it easy for past students and teachers to share their opinions online, many of which may be unflattering as well as subjective or even inaccurate. Independent whistleblowing sites encourage the anonymous sharing of negative stories and scandals. Meanwhile, smartphones make it easier than ever to take and share video footage and social media profiles which portrays the school or its staff in a bad light.
Negative news ranking high on a Google search page will hurt a school or university’s reputation considerably. Videos or scandals that go viral can appear as a Google Autocomplete suggestion even before the researcher hits enter. It doesn’t matter if these stories are true, or if the complaints represent only a small minority of the school’s students; they will still have a big effect on how next year’s prospective parents and students see the school.
A Good Reputation and Good Academics Go Hand in Hand
Reputation issues can quickly start to erase a hard-earned academic standing. If two schools have the same rating, conscientious students will naturally be attracted to the one that gets good publicity online. Some students may even choose to go with a school that has a lower league ranking but an impeccable online reputation.
Investors and are likely to lose confidence in institutions with prominent scandals. It will be harder to attract new funding and some long time sponsors may decide there are more worthwhile investments. With reduced funding and fewer quality students, it will be almost impossible to maintain the same league ranking and, as the university’s standing drops, enrolment will drop even more.
Schools that want to maintain their standing and offer quality education need to take their online reputation seriously. ReputationDefender offers quality reputation management services to businesses and individuals, including search suggestion assistance focused on building better Autocomplete results. While it may not be possible to completely erase negative publicity, creating positive content that portrays a school in an accurate way can significantly reduce the impact and start bringing back students and funding.
7 Tips for Managing Your School’s Reputation
Follow these seven tips to improve your school’s reputation.
- Make a Plan – Reputation risk is high in education. Today’s students spend a lot of time on social media. There is always a certain percentage who will blame the school for poor grades or anything else that goes wrong, and they may often be backed up by parents who are even more vocal. School leaders need a plan to address complaints and handle negative publicity before it appears.
- Make Reputation Management an Integral Part of the School’s Operation – ORM needs to be built right into staff’s job description. Teachers should be expected to keep open lines of communications and build relationships with students and their families. Preventative reputation management can help prevent crises from developing.
- Make Sure Everyone Understands Their Role – Reputation expectations should be clearly laid out and simple. All staff should be given guidelines about how to approach a potential issue and who to report the problem to so that school leaders can react as quickly as possible.
- Make Everyone Accountable – Managing reputation risk is everyone’s job; even third party contractors and consultants should understand that their actions reflect on the school’s reputation.
- Designate a Representative – Make sure there is a competent PR professional prepared to represent the school in the event that a major crisis occurs unexpectedly. Misinformation can spread quickly, so schools need to get ahead of the story and answer media questions accurately. Being as transparent as possible, as soon as possible helps to build public trust. Be aware that reputation issues can occur just as easily during holidays and make a scenario for how to handle a reputation crisis that occurs while the school is off.
- Make a Budget – Reputation management is an investment that will pay off in the long run, but it needs to be written into the school budget. Too often this is an afterthought, something to consider when everything else is paid for, but without a good reputation, all the money budgeted toward other programs will be wasted.
- Learn from the Past –Negative publicity is an opportunity to put your plan into practice and see how it works. After the crisis has passed, analyse what happened. Make a note of which efforts were successful and which were not. Were the failures due to planning or implementation? Update the plan to address these weaknesses.
Remember, a big part of reputation management is about getting positive content to rank higher than negative stories. To learn more online ORM, contact the experts at ReputationDefender.