3 by 3 Means of Communicating Tertiary Institutions in Africa

Every university has the opportunity to generate conversation around its activities through the three key mandates it has to fulfil – teaching, research and community service. When a university has devised a different approach to teaching an otherwise complex or difficult concept, a story should be generated around that. Similarly, breakthroughs, innovations and even research publications could as well be leveraged on to attract the attention of core stakeholders to a tertiary institution. The third leg, community service also has a high tendency for narratives that emphasize a town and gown approach by an institution. Whatever is done behind the four walls of the ivory towers should be deliberately well communicated to the outside world. That, will in no small measure, build the confidence of the stakeholders in the system.

As to the means of sending the stories out to the public, there are three kinds of media available to the people in charge of the universities’ communication units- the paid, the owned and the earned media. While the paid media refer to those mediums where you pay to have the university’s information processed and shared (radio, television and newspapers, social media etc) with information products such as advertising, paid content promotion, social media adverts as well as  the owned media indicate the mediums under your direct use (website, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube channels, Instagram or even the university-owned radio and television stations). The earned media refer to the publicity earned by an institution from its activities publicized through the two previously mentioned media. If the students or the alumni help to share or re-share a content from the owned media, it is a publicity earned.

The Three Media Available to a University’s PR Unit

The people in charge of the Public Relations/ Corporate Communication/Public Affairs Units or whatever name we choose to call it need to do more and go back to the textbook definition of PR which characterizes it is a deliberate effort aimed at building a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the stakeholders who are responsible for its sustainable existence. The thesis here is that the people in charge of corporate communication in universities in Nigeria and the rest of the continent need to leverage owned, earned and paid media to comprehensively and strategically communicate activities of these instituitions through its teaching, esaerch and community service.

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