Breakout Session Gives Competitive Edge

Local newspapers are jam-packed with advertisements for career schools. Direct competitors often appear right next to each other on the job pages, which has schools continually trying to find ways to distinguish themselves from their competitors. More and more, school administrators are looking to public relations tactics to stand out in the crowd.

At the 2006 Career College Association Convention & Exposition, a breakout session titled “Public Relations – the Competitive Edge” will offer career college industry professionals the tools and suggestions necessary to form an effective public relations campaign. The conference, held at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino from June 12-14 in Las Vegas, Nev., is an annual event that gives professionals in the industry the opportunity to network, share ideas, and learn about the issues affecting them.

Several informative breakout sessions are offered during the three-day conference, including “Public Relations – The Competitive Edge.” Session hosts Michael Stiglich of Corinthian Colleges, Inc. and Tracy Kreikemeier of PlattForm will present public relations techniques that can be beneficial to proprietary schools in distancing themselves from others within regional markets.

Kreikemeier says the career college industry has experienced such phenomenal growth that many areas are now saturated with schools. These new institutions are creating an increased level of competition for enrollments, employees and job placement opportunities. It has never been more important for schools to use public relations in order to stand out and form a strong relationship and positive image with the community.

“We hope to present some out-of-the-box ideas on how to improve the public relations efforts for our industry,” Kreikemeier said. “I hope attendees come away with an understanding of how important it is to reach out to the community on a regular basis. Just doing it once a year isn’t enough. It has to be consistent and genuine.”

Historically, the role of public relations has been overlooked in the career college industry. The emphasis has instead been on “traditional” advertising – print, radio and television – or direct-response advertising, where schools can track the response to their promotional efforts. Now, consumers are inundated with commercials at every opportunity. They know paid ad space when they see it, and all of these are contributing factors to the belief that career schools need more than slick advertising campaigns to draw students. It’s becoming essential for schools to form a positive community image through public relations.

In this informative session, Stiglich and Kreikemeier will discuss ways schools can improve on community involvement. They will ask the important question, “What does the community think of your school and why?”

“The answer to that question might surprise some of our participants,” Kreikemeier said.

Kreikemeier says the presentation will emphasize the importance of consistency and credibility in community dealings for all types of career schools. Helpful hints for furthering community involvement and surefire techniques to get the most public relations bang for your buck will also be discussion topics.

For more information about the CCA conference or a list of other breakout sessions, visit the CCA’s web site.

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