Nearing their 175th anniversary, Bishop’s University is a small, public university in Quebec, Canada. Their goal is to deliver a broad-based, liberal arts curriculum in an intimate learning environment that encourages exploration and discovery.
Lacking an active public relations strategy meant Bishop’s University was either not well known, or there were misperceptions about who they were across Canada. Chief Communications Officer, Chantal Sneath, jokes, “Communications was a bit of the wild-wild-west.”
Tasked with creating positive publicity for the university while building a communications department from scratch, Sneath turned to colleagues and peer institutions for their recommendations on the best media monitoring and press outreach platform to help her set the right tone for the university.
I was talking to colleagues in other institutions about best PR practices and the name Meltwater kept popping up. Meltwater ensured I’d never scour the Internet looking for key mentions of our school or send out a press release without knowing just how far it reached.Chantal Sneath Communications Officer
In the middle of a financial crisis where the government was freezing tuition fees and cutting subsidies across all universities in Quebec, Bishop’s University turned to Meltwater for in real-time monitoring of articles and discussions affecting them. “The value to me was so obvious,” Sneath recalled. The beginning was basic, simply using daily alerts to see if they were in the news and what was said about them.
Scandalous articles written about Quebec principals and compensation packages had the media asking for comments, and Sneath was now aware and prepared to answer. Internal communications was streamlined by sharing key mentions across all departments on Bishop’s research experts, peer institutions, and distinguished alumni.
As the new school year began, featured stories in top publications, like MSN Canada, on Bishop’s first-of-its-kind Sexual Assault Prevention campaign set a positive tone for Bishop’s reputation across the country. Sneath uses the influencer database in conjunction with Meltwater’s wire service, allowing her to find interested journalists writing on key issues and share announcements to a broader audience through the wire.
You can’t change people’s perception overnight, especially when you’ve been around for such a long time. We have an excellent research department just screaming to be heard, and Meltwater helps us place their stories in top publications, ultimately helping us grow our brand and be known for our positive happenings.
Stay informed of negative press and be prepared for media calls
Track distinguished alumni and attract prospective students
Pitch unique campaigns to relevant and influential journalists
“One of our alumni became the President of St. Lucia, and we had absolutely no idea because he’s no longer in touch with the university. We learned of this through Meltwater, which was the only way we could have had access to the Caribbean publication that made the announcement, and then we posted the news to our social media channels – Chantal Sneath, Chief Communications Officer
“Last summer we launched the Purple Canada Tour where students drove cross country in a purple van spreading the word about Bishop’s and doing random acts of kindness. With every stop, I’d use the influencer database to pull a list of local journalists, and then reach out to set up interviews. As a result, we gained exposure and brand recognition in cities that had never written about the university.” – Chantal Sneath, Chief Communications Officer
“The Huffington Post seems to love us, as we have lots of “Best Ofs” rankings posted by them that we find through Meltwater. Most of the coverage we pull from Meltwater is then posted directly to our social media accounts and used in new student recruitment efforts. The reaction has been great, especially on social media when we see our followers continue to grow.” – Chantal Sneath, Chief Communications Officer