July 18, 2023

Breaking through the PR noise on results day

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Breaking through the PR noise on results day

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Tom Evans, Senior PR & Marketing Executive:
  • Use pictures
  • Tell the story
  • Leverage the local press
  • Shout on socials 

As GCSE and A-Level students across the country eagerly await their exam results in August, schools will be laying the groundwork to make a media splash to showcase student and school successes. 

But, with more than a million students receiving their results this year, how can schools stand out amongst their competitors in the press? Read on for my top tips on how schools can break through the PR noise on results day and achieve an A* in their communication. 

A picture is worth a thousand words

It should come as no surprise that pictures and videos need to be a significant part of a school’s results day communications strategy. According to HubSpot, a press release with an image attracts a 45% increase in views, and on social media, you can expect to see twice the engagement when you include an image. However, don’t just use any old photo; images with happy, smiling student faces should be utilised over back-of-head photos and general school ground shots. And get creative too! All schools will be releasing pictures of students jumping or cheering so do something different. Why not have students holding up a branded sign of their university destination, for example, or a numbered balloon with their top grade on?

Showcase success through storytelling

Storytelling allows schools to better connect with their audience and, ultimately, stand out from their competitors. Yes, Alex may have excelled in Art, but how did he come to find his passion for painting, what will he do next, and what are his hopes for the future? Adding this extra detail into external communications will resonate with the audience on an emotional level and make the information more memorable, all while sharing student success. 

Engage the local press

Reaching out to local media, including print, radio and broadcast, ahead of results day can be hugely beneficial for schools. Results day will dominate the day’s news agenda, and outlets will be wanting to cover as many schools’ results as possible. After all, who doesn’t love tuning in to see an energetic student open their long-awaited envelope in real time? But a word of caution, be sure to carefully identify students to talk to media in advance to avoid mistakes like this… Bear in mind though that outlets will be much more likely to cover a school if it can offer two things – student quotes and credible spokespeople. Be sure to include quotes from a variety of students in articles and always remember to offer a headteacher or year or department head as a spokesperson to give more depth and context to the headline statistics. 

Get social on social media 

One thing is for certain when it comes to social media and results day (and no, it’s not the annual un-funny Jeremy Clarkson tweet) – and that’s that schools need to live post throughout the day. Use the hashtags, share the pictures and tag the media as most local publications have a live feed focused on its region or town’s results and will compile some of the best pictures and videos online. Schools should also get creative with content to stand out. Why not conduct some vox pop interviews with students summarising their school experience in three words for example? Current and prospective students and their parents will also be keeping a close eye on social media throughout the day to see if they can spot their child, sibling or friend, or perhaps more importantly, see how the school performs – so it needs to be used effectively. After all, if schools want to truly stand out from their competitors from a PR perspective, it’s exactly this audience who they need to impress the most.