November 21, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

5 ways to use media monitoring for alumni relations

5 ways to use media monitoring for alumni relations

We’re heading into autumn, and this means back to school for many—including those in college. As normal people start to look forward to cool fall days and football, I start thinking of…using media monitoring for alumni relations.

Colleges and universities have alumni relations offices for many reasons—but all of those reasons go back to the main motivation of supporting the school’s goals. While we don’t often associate an educational institution with having “business” goals, we should. Colleges and universities need to attract students, keep alumni engaged, fundraise, and conduct all of the operational responsibilities that go along with managing an institution, like payroll and building maintenance. Clearly, there are business goals, and using a monitoring service can help institutions of higher learning keep track of mentions, identify and engage stakeholders, and measure fundraising efforts.

Here are five ideas for effectively using a monitoring tool to bolster alumni relations:

  1. Set up the monitoring tool with search phrases of your most active alumni groups. Local newspapers are more likely than larger papers to cover events like alumni gatherings, and setting up search terms will help to find smaller meetings.
  2. Use the monitoring tool to track engagement with key alumni on social channels. There’s a chance that the alumni who are connected with your college or university are also connected to alumni who have fallen off the radar—and by monitoring, there’s an opportunity to re-engage with less-active alumni.
  3. Your monitoring tool can also be used to keep up with major alumni donors. If they are mentioned in the news (in a positive article, of course), you can send a congratulatory note or something similar. It’s a nice touch to contact a major donor for a reason other than asking for money.
  4. Use monitoring to help guide content creation efforts. Universities and colleges know where their most active alumni chapters are, and where most of their new and prospective students come from—so, use your monitoring tool to identify issues and events in those areas to develop relevant content for the alumni section of the website. This will in turn attract more engagement.
  5. A monitoring tool can also be used to increase alumni engagement on Twitter. Build a list of alumni to follow on the social channel, and then interact with alumni by retweeting relevant content that they post, or otherwise engage with them—doing this builds ties and strengthens relationships. Track this data, and see if it results in increases in donations, for example.

After you determine the best ways to use your monitoring tool to increase engagement and improve alumni relations, make sure you have set up your search parameters in a way that allows you to track and measure data against results. Many of a college or university’s most relevant goals can be tied to the results you are tracking through monitoring. For example, if increased social media engagement leads to higher per-alumni donations, that is a goal that can, and should, be reported back to both the alumni association and the communications department.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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