Friday, February 01, 2013
Law schools are in the dumps. Enrollments are down, and there are few jobs for graduates. Some schools have started to cut back. Put simply, there are too many lawyers, and there will be for some time to come. So, practitioner, how would you do PR for a law school, particularly a second- or third-tier institution that hasn't the name recognition of Ivy League universities? This is typical of challenges practitioners get. It is easy to publicize a school at the top of its game. It is hard and next to impossible to help a university without a strongly positive perception already. The first instinct of academic departments is to trumpet themselves. "We're great! Look at our graduates! Look at our wonderful students!" But, every university does this. Every university is better than anyone around them and everybody is above average. The hard part is to understand where the university stands out, if at all, and to position it in that area. This, of course, means making decisions about professors, courses and kinds of students the university will accept. It means shutting some doors and widening others. But, who wants to do that? It is hard and miserable work. But that is where PR should be -- finding a differentiated position that helps a school to stand out in the marketplace.