University of Richmond
Situation and Assignment
Daily demands in the University of Richmond Communications office meant that proactive outreach to national and international media with campus stories often was pushed aside. The Hodges Partnership came on as an extension of the campus’ two-person public relations team. Over our seven-year relationship, our efforts extended beyond media relations to include special projects, including crisis communications, social media planning and strategy. Raising awareness of the University of Richmond through media relations contributed significantly in attracting potential students and faculty, keeping alumni happy and educating other institutions on what differentiates the Richmond experience.
With five schools and two dynamic presidents during our tenure, our media relations strategy was to continually position faculty, administrators and staff members as experts on headline topics. We started by getting to know as many faculty members as possible to identify their expertise. From there, we looked to position experts in breaking news or strategically pitched reporters on university trends – everything from Federal Reserve rates and international conflict to guns in America and U.S. Olympic uniforms. Our success relied on understanding what topics the faculty could address, finding them quickly and drafting concise pitches that gave reporters a snapshot of the professor’s insights and credentials. We didn’t saturate the media market, instead seeking specific reporters and producers to target at major outlets.
What We Delivered
- Generated more than 700 million impressions in seven years.
- Identified key faculty “stars” and executed mini-campaigns to build long-term relationships with reporters from outlets such as Bloomberg, McClatchy News Service and regularly calling on those experts for future stories.
- Nurtured relationships with op/ed editors at national print and online outlets, resulting in repeat placements in such publications as CNN.com, The New York Times and USA Today.
- Monitored daily print, online and broadcast outlets to jump quickly on breaking news and pitch Richmond experts, including a front-page placement in The New York Times.
- Secured placements for university initiatives in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide, the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education, just to name a few.
- Coordinated an interview from space, landing an interview during ESPN’s SportsCenter for a former Spiders football player-turned astronaut while he was orbiting the earth.