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Alumni Connect; A PR Perspective

(Article Published in the current issue of PR Voice, the publication of Public Society of India, Hyderabad)

When the world is turning increasingly competitive, can education remain indifferent? Schools and colleges step up their efforts to engage with the ‘Publics’, as they too are keen to build a brand image. It is here the public relations chips in. For educational institutions, public relations initiative is incomplete without alumni relations. There are more reasons than one for this. First, alumni are publics that are crucial and predictable. Second, they are influencers beyond compare. Ask any institute, ramping up alumni relations would be its priority area. An academy can now connect with their old grads living at the farthest end of the globe, thanks to the digital boom, and engage them too, through sustained communications.

Author (Sitting) at the11th All India Public Relations Conference

PR Perspective

Past students are the best brand ambassadors an institute can ever have. They are influencers whose word of mouth carries more authenticity compared to a sponsored brand endorsement. The former originates voluntarily whereas the latter narrates a scripted text. Alumni’s statement is more direct and personal and is based on the actual experience with the institution. The emotional attachment of the alumni is unqualified, deep routed and doesn’t diminished with other considerations.

Face of the Institution

Well-known alumni often become face of the school or college and enhance their appeal to the prospects. A modest government engineering college in Kerala got focused, when its alumnus Dr. K Radhakrishnan became India’s “Mars Man” leading the world’s most affordable Mars mission. Recently one came across a banner in front of a school which congratulated its old student P.V. Sindhu, the badminton ace, on her Olympic achievement. Doesn’t this simple banner carry more value than a commercial display done by Sindhu herself?

Engagement, the Game Changer

In public relations, engagement is the game changer. Much of the benefits of the alumni relations are stemmed from active engagements. No wonder then that many learning institutions lend a hand in creating and maintaining alumni societies. The rule here is simple ‘Passing out is not cutting off.’ Such engagements provide significant benefits to the institution. For alumni too it provides occasions to recapture those affable moments of their student life.

Technology and Social Channels

With the changing times, technology and social channels make the alumni connect an easy proposition. Technology landscapes create carefully calibrated communication. Through a WhatsApp group, you can now chat with the former students. Special moments are shared, breaking news is flashed and discussions are triggered. This holds good for other social channels as well. For instance, Facebook has the strong potential to spotlight alumni success stories and pull them towards interactive involvements. An institution recently organized a live (albeit virtual)session with one of the alumnus who is a noted film personality. The event evoked immense response from the participants, current and past students, through comments and chats.

Looking for a Real Meet?

Real meets have their own pull. Real meets are family times and end up with fun and food. Virtual platforms cannot translate this thrill, though webinars and virtual contests trigger alumni engagements in a different way. But when safety becomes the concern, reveling can wait. Alumni newsletter (online or print) is another popular medium in alumni relations.

PR opportunities with Alumni

There are many PR opportunities where alumni can shape the image of an educational institution. An inexhaustive list can be:

· Act as brand ambassador of your institution.

· Provide mentoring, internships, and career opportunities for students.

· Volunteer to offer expertise say in research and academics.

· Crowd funding in crisis

· Act as useful links between academia and industry.

· Initiate sponsorships.

The Finishing Line

Alumni are valuable assets. Just like how a brand engages with its customers, the institutions need to catch up with them continually. Theories can be the pointers. But it is the out of box thinking that scores. Yes! Calibrated communication is the buzzword here.


By K.V.Murali Mohan A passionate freelance writer and ardent communicator - Double Post Graduate in communication subjects -Recipient of Kulapati Gold Medal and TKM Rao award in Journalism - Credited with four decades of literary pursuit spanning over 300 plus articles in national and regional publications.


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