People commonly associate the UOS as “the municipal university that charges low tuition” and “the university that has produced many public officials”. Competition among universities to collect competent students is getting fierce. Unfortunately, there is little improvement in advertising the UOS.
According to the survey that was conducted by the UOS News last November, 65% of respondents don’t know our university well, 29 % of respondents don’t know about our university at all. Many high school students don’t know about the UOS. This is very serious problem. Have you ever seen our university’s advertisement on the newspaper or TV?
The answer is “No”. Advertising through mass media needs great financial support. Although ideas may be creative, the financial support is still necessary. Moreover, there are not enough people in charge of the Public Information Department. There are about five officers in Public Information Department in other universities, doing their best to advertise their university.
However, in the UOS, only three officers in the Planning and Development Section are doing business concerning advertisement and international exchange program. Public Information Department hired Public Relations(PR) specialist for the first time on the last January.
We can expect professional advertisement, but we still need alternative method considering financial condition. We need to accept that we cannot publicize the UOS through the mass media and think about other affordable methods to publicize the UOS.
‘Cahongi’-it means a meeting of students who advertise the Catholic University. Most of universities have a way of PR ; they take out ads in newspapers to advertise their university and send brochures to national high schools. But, as we already know, ‘We advertise our university ourselves’, Catholic University promotes their university through its students.
It was only five years ago that Cahongi was founded in Catholic University. At that time, there were difficulties because they were short of hands and had an incomplete system. Their special publicity activities and efforts made Cahongi overcome the difficulty and grow into the best form of PR in the university in a short time.
‘Cahongi’ is divided into three departments or teams : communication, internet and bulletin team. The communication team manages forums at nownury, hitel, unitel, letsgo and chollian. Through these meetings, they inspire their university’s students to love their school and promote the Catholic University to high school students. The internet team operates the homepage of Cahongi within the school homepage.
They upgrade news, add articles about the Catholic University, and answer high school students’ questions about the entrance examination via e-mail. Since most people now live on-line in what we called the internet age. The internet team is the most important team in PR.
The Catholic University publishes two brochures. One is ‘Whiz-kid’ made by the Public Information Department and the other is ‘webzine’, made by Cahongi. The bulletin team takes charge of the latter.
From this year, they plan to publish a ‘book’. Since students dislike boring things and prefer sensible articles. The brochure is going to make the best use of visual elements and conform to their tastes.
Additonally, Cahongi distributes 200,000 postcards to high schools and replies to questions about the Catholic University. The replies are a good chance to become more familiar with the university. How effective is ‘Cahongi’ for PR?
In the Catholic University, the Public Information Department said that although Cahongi occupies a small amount of the whole budget, it creates the biggest effect.
Cahongi attributed this to its efforts. They have many activities for PR with such a small staff. There are few difficulties when PR is done by students with pride.
Make students experience campus life
As of now, few high school students know the UOS. Their choice of this university is a direct result of PR.
So, it is important to inform high school students about our school. The PR program invites high school students to the university to experience university life. Many universities have this program. Among them is the ‘21st University for the Talents’ of Sookmyung Women’s University. Sookmyung Women’s University recruits two students by recommendation from each of 60 high schools in Seoul, Gyeonggi-do and Inchon. Most students can qualify. The purpose of the program is to ‘raise women leaders’.
Qualification is limited to leading presidents, members of a circle, members of the editorial staff, all of whom must score in the upper 20% of their school. Lectures from professors, circle introductions by members, meetings with Sookmyung Women’s University seniors, bus tours of the school, free talking with native speaker...
They are all contained within the program. The subjects of the lecture are selected according to interests such as dieting or activities of the various circles.
All of these programs are recorded on videotape and sent to high schools to advertise the university. The university send photographs to each participant. They also have a special entrance examination for people who finish this course.
This program creates wonderful effects, too. The response of students who participate is very good. By talking with friends about their own experiences, PR is magnified. All students lodge at the university with the volunteer professors and students that run the program. This year, the cost effective program is going to be expanded on a national scale due to its effectiveness.
What is the best form of university PR? There are the mass media, image media, and so on.
Among them, the internet is one of the most efficient forms of PR. As a matter of fact, a survey shows that 68 percent of high school students think the internet is the best form of PR. Most people spend their time surfing the internet. How can we use the internet as a form of PR? Use your homepage! People who do not have enough information about a university will first visit its homepage for information.
So, using the internet as a form of PR can be accomplished through providing information. There is also another good way to publicize the school. Ewha Womans University and Hongik University provide people who visit the homepage with a video of their school. Students who prefer not to read letters can get just as much information by watching the video.
Kookmin University has a separate section for high school students. Contrary to other universities, there is a ‘preliminary university students’ section together with a ‘university students’ section, and ‘the staff of the school’ section. If you click in, you can see the title ‘Kookmin University is looking for DNA of the 21st C’ : Here, DNA stands for Dynamic, Novel and Adventure.
A while ago, it used to provide students with information about the entrance examination, however, recently Kookmin University is trying to focus on promoting their school. Hongik University has a section for students preparing for the examination by themselves.
They provide high schools which have server difficulties with space for a homepage. It is amazing. About 310 high schools’ homepages are being operated with the help of Hongik University. Also, the ‘high school class’ section has a ‘search service’ with information on each curriculum like math, sociology, etc.
PR mission Most universities have a PR mission consisting of students from the university visiting their old high schools and promoting their university to their juniors firsthand. Some universities recognize the activities in return for special preferences in the university.
High school students are able to get information about universities from newspapers, TV and the bulletins, but they trust information gained from friends, seniors or aquaintances.
Postcard in the Age of University PR
I visited one company using postcards to advertise universities. And I heard their project and successful story. The ‘Planhouse’ founded in 1998 is university advertisement company. This company has used postcards for the first time.
The good thing about this method is that it has only one target, high school students. This company’s business is making postcards and making bulletin boards for the postcards. Nowadays, about 580 high schools have the bulletin boards in their buildings and 60 universities including Konkuk University, Soongsil University, Kwangwoon University and so forth entrust this company to make postcards. These postcards can advertise using pictures. And students can ask questions to the universities using the postcards.
It makes ‘feedback’ effect. Usually one university make 30,000 postcards and receive about 8,000 reply postcard. We can see that high school students have great interest about postcards.
Another good thing about this method is low production cost. It cost 5 million won to make 30,000 postcards and the company’s profit is about 4 million won. These days the ‘Planhouse’ makes another publicity booklet named as ‘pocketbook’. This is also loved by many high school students who like little and pretty things.