Media Monitoring Tip #16: Adding Value to University Alumni Relations
During my time in college, I worked at the Harvard College Fund calling alumni and asking for money. It was a fun job and I loved hearing stories from alumni, but it wasn’t always an easy sell. However I did learn more about how universities interact with alumni and solicit donations. For any university, maintaining a good relationship with alumni and encouraging them to donate is a critical part of ensuring future success. Thousands of educational institutions around the world use Meltwater News to help manage PR and marketing programs across departments ranging from University Athletics to Alumni Relations and Development.
While each university uses Meltwater differently, comprehensive news tracking is at the core of each program. The use case that follows shows how one American business school uses Meltwater News to help keep its alumni relations and development programs on track.
Media Monitoring for Alumni Relations & Development
The graduate school of business at a large public university in the US uses Meltwater News to keep track of alumni and donors in the news. In addition to search agents tracking the school, faculty, and competing institutions, they set up two alumni-focused searches. The information they gather is used to identify high-potential donors, inform university and student fundraisers, and generally promote the success of graduates on internal and external communication channels.
Search Agent #1: Tracking Alumni in the News
This general alumni search looks for any mention of any alumnus. The search returns results anytime the school’s name is close to words like “attended,” “graduated from,” or “MBA from.” Here’s an example of how you might build this kind of search using Boolean operators (ask your account representative for help tailoring the search to your institution):
(“university name” near/5 (“school of business” or “college of business” or “business school” or “college of management” or “school of management”)) near/20 (alumni or alum or alumnus or “graduated from” or attended or “graduate of” or graduated or “has a masters” or “has an MBA” or “MBA from”)
Alumni relations browses these results daily to look for any alumni who have made significant moves in their career – things like securing funding for a venture, a promotion, an exit, or other charitable donations. These high-potential alumni are then routed to the development office and distributed to professional fundraisers or student callers for follow up.
Search Agent #2: Advisory Board Members in the News
The second search tracks members of the business school’s advisory board. The advisory board is made up of alumni who give special lectures and seminars to MBA students and serve as mentors and career advisors. The names of the board members are put directly into the search, along with qualifiers, like where they work, to ensure the results are relevant. The alumni relations department tracks advisors primarily to drive internal and external communications. That can mean including advisor news in alumni or student newsletters, on the website and in materials sent to prospective students and parents.
Educational institutions big and small rely on the support of alumni for donations and there are several different ways to structure alumni searches to support those efforts. Some schools regionalize searches, while others segment alumni by giving history or graduation year. However you organize searches, using media monitoring as a part of alumni relations is a great way to feed content to communications and give context to your fundraising team. From experience I can say that whoever’s on the phone reaching out to alumni will appreciate the extra information!
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