PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

PR & Education

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm

For years, the quality of education in our high schools across the United States has been measured by various assessments. From the curriculum and graduation rate to athletic programs and extracurricular activities, high schools nationwide have the possibility to hold many accreditation’s under their belts. But have you ever thought about how high schools become popular? It’s not just by luck or chance, but these schools have awesome public relations and marketing tactics that sometimes isn’t noticed at first glance. As a marketing and public relations major, I have learned to keep an eye out for all sorts of ways that companies and organizations try to gain the attention of their consumers. In education, it’s not as blatantly obvious as it is in any other sector of the professional world, but parents, students and administration are a particular audience that also needs special attention as well.

Urban Prep Academy in Chicago, Illinois is an all African-American male education institution that strives to prepare young men to not only graduate from high school, but to ultimately graduate from college. Such a powerful mission has attracted a lot of media attention to the school over the last several months. Established in 2002, Urban Prep has since planted two additional campuses across the Chicago metro area and in June 2010, the high school announced that all 107 young men in graduating class will be attending four-year universities in the fall. So, what contributed to the success of Urban Prep getting so much local and nationwide press?

In my opinion, the answer comes three-fold: first, the foundation of achieving the students’ success is simple, yet encouraging and enlightening too. The fact that black males in our society today are scrutinized by the media for being drug dealers, dead-beat fathers and incarcerated is completely overbearing and disheartening. But to turn on the television or radio and hear that 107 black young men have been groomed into upstanding citizens of their communities and will be attending the best schools across the nation is exciting and give a sense of hope. Secondly, Urban Prep Academies had the support of many elite Chicago educators, organizations and celebrities like Tavis Smiley and Oprah Winfrey. Additionally, the inauguration of our first black president also served as propellant for the male students of Urban Prep Academy in Chicago, providing a tangible role model to comprehend that anything is possible. Finally, Urban Prep Academy’s homepage serves as a medium for community citizens nationwide to be aware of what students, teachers and administrators are doing as the school year progresses. The college prep high school provides visitors to its website with annual reports from the last three years, as well as information about the institution and ways in which individuals can provide support to Urban Prep Academies.

With these three factors, I believe that it is no surprise that this is just a fraction of the reason why Urban Prep Academy has achieved so much media success over the last year. This is a perfect example of how public relations practitioners in the education sector and high schools nationwide can learn to improve their media relations tactics and techniques. For one, Urban Prep Academy demonstrates transparency as a non-profit organization, when they really don’t have to. By informing the community, stakeholders and the nation about the work that is done for and by the young men at Urban Prep, the school has gained a lot of positive attention, which will only better for the institution in return.  Additionally, Urban Prep Academy is achieving more than promoting the achievement of its 107 students; it is increasing enrollment, getting the attention of potential donors and sponsors and serving as a beacon of light in the Chicago Public School system. From this case, the public relations department at Urban Prep Academy has grasped an understanding of their target audiences; knowing how to use the many different outlets of media to its advantage. Using media relations is taking step further in one’s public relations campaign, and successfully, Urban Prep Academy has established itself in the public eye as one that is committed to the prosperity of its students and growth of its community.

Chasity Cooper is currently a senior at Syracuse University majoring in Public Relations and Marketing. She will be receiving her Bachelors of Arts degree in May of 2011.  Chasity is a public relation intern at Howard Smith and Associates in Chicago IL.

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