< Journal
27th April 2022

Building your university’s reputation in a post pandemic online world

Building your university’s reputation in a post pandemic online world

At Unicom, we are experts in Higher Education marketing. Our team of strategists, researchers and analysts are driven to improving the outreach and conversion of our clients, leading to long term success.

In an increasingly online world, accelerated by the pandemic, it is important to ensure your reputation is strong across online platforms and so this blog is aimed towards helping you build the foundations of a strong internet presence.

Your reputation as a University is built on the opinions of a range of stakeholders, students, businesses, governments, current staff, alumni and more. The strength of this reputation will determine the quality of staff, students, partners etc, which, in turn, will determine the long-term standing of your University.

Strategies for success: 

There are many clever and innovative strategies you can adopt to build your online reputation, and at Unicom we have developed a strategy based on the three “i’s” framework. Those being to Inspire, illuminate and invite.

  • Inspire – Here we would advocate the use of bold messaging that draws people in to be inquisitive of what you have to offer
  • Illuminate – Here you want to personalize the message. What can you offer the person reading your message?
  • Invite – calls to action, “join us here”, as example, prompts the movement to act on any curiosity


The message you portray is key, and it comes from understanding the audience you want to target.

We help you to understand your audience using our innovative means and analytical insight, ensuring the right message is sent to the right person.

For a University, successful communication with a policymaker or member of staff, will have different components to communication with an 18 year old potential student.

Knowing that one message, as well as the platform of delivery, does not fit all, is paramount.

We believe there are 5 key audience groups you should consider the individual content direction for;

  • Policymakers
  • Institutes
  • The passionate public
  • Senior Business leaders
  • Students


Having identified the key target audience groups, the next step is to implement your means of delivering your message. We’ll now discuss some forms of targeting.

  • Hyperlocal targeting – This allows you to send content to a localized geographic area. This is ideal for policymakers as you could, in theory, send those sitting in parliament at a given time, targeted content. This then opens them up for re targeting at a later date as they would now be logged.
  • Twitter – This platform is ideal for “interrupting the conversation”. Popular topics of discussion, or any topic of discussion rather, can be a hotbed of potential leads. Twitter allows you to find these conversations as they happen and from there, find people who share a similar interest/view through their following list, or use of hashtags.
  • Programmatic – If there are particular websites you want to appear on, you can do so using this form of targeting. Using programmatic contextual targeting, you can target specific keywords, useful for getting content across to academics, especially those in niche fields.
  • LinkedIn inMail – This is a filter targeting system via linkedin that allows you to reach specific demographics, be it by University, or job role. You can target a large, but specific group of people, to deliver your intended message.
  • Youtube Pre-roll – Ideal for reaching students, with video content being at the peak of popularity

Taking care to ensure you have the most appropriate message, delivered via the most appropriate platform, is how you close in on your target audience with personalised content that leaves them with a positive online experience. A positive online experience leads to engagement, sharing and organic promotion as it is content your audience WANTS to see, as opposed to a misguided fishing net of information thrown at them.


Once you have understood your audience and how best to reach them, you must now keep track of your progress to see what is working and what is not. Typically, when gathering information on the success of a promotion campaign, we would break it down in to 4 segments:

  • Reach – This refers to the number of people who have seen your ad content
  • Viewability – Aims to track impressions that were actually seen by users
  • Time on Site – Refers to how much time visitors spent engaging and reading your content
  • Brand uplift – The use of brand polling to understand the true value of your campaigns

At Unicom we are performance campaign experts who can take care of this important analytical aspect of your targeted content delivery, but we feel it is important to make you aware of how we operate and to get inside the mind of those who work towards building your reputation.

Unprecedented times

Having looked at the techniques applied when attempting to build your online reputation, we cannot ignore the variables that enter the field of play in a time of crisis, such as the world we currently live in.

We must all adapt to the demands of society in such circumstances and being University specific, this means we must have a flexible and proactive approach to how we handle communication with those in and around the education system.

With times like these, comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes questions. As a University you must be the first to provide people with the answers they need regarding your sector, otherwise they will find them elsewhere.

The type of questions being asked this year will differ from any prior typical catalogue, so you must be proactive in anticipating the demand and updating your information portals.

A University that provides a potential student with support and details that eases concern is a University that is a step ahead of those not reacting to the current climate.

We highly recommend using AnswerThePublic to analyze search terms via a key phrase such as “US Universities”. This will allow you to identify areas of information you must provide accessibly.

In terms of your tone and demeanor we have identified the following as highly valued by students:

  • Affirmation – You must fuel their need to feel kind and support equality. Archaic attitudes will not wash in today’s progressive society. You must keep up to date and involved in promoting the morality of the younger generations
  • Ambitions – You must, of course, support their education and career. In uncertain times, students will be concerned about their long term future and you must ensure you support them on their journey to employment
  • Wellbeing – Mental health is a hot topic with the pandemic having a large effect on the population in general. You must acknowledge this and show yourself to be a key player in supporting your staff and students through these difficult times and beyond.
  • Eco – Conscious. Enable student activism and promote climate concern. This is a matter that is felt strongly by the young generation
  • Positive Distraction – Alleviate boredom, push out content that engages and stimulates the mind in dull times. Put on events, gather people together where possible.
  • Language – Understand the dialect of today’s students. Be accessible and relatable, but do not lose your authenticity.

How to tackle crisis

A step by step approach will help to mitigate the damage to reputation caused by a crisis event or any negative incident.

  • Pinpoint Scale – Identify issues (lower level) and crisis (higher level). Focus on issues that relevant to you first and foremost, before addressing wider concerns. This is how you attempt to avoid full blown crisis
  • Own the conversation – Take responsibility and be proactive in the message that is sent out to address these issues. Do not allow yourself to become a reactive institution where you will see a pile up of concerns that can become unmanageable. It’s better to be transparent and responsive than avoid the matter altogether
  • Know your voice – Take a stance. This is expected of you in a world where opinions are loud and far reaching. You cannot be seen as avoiding the issue/talking points
  • Digital first approach – Take to social media immediately as this is the hotbed of news and discussion.

As you can see it is important to have an online presence that exudes proactivity and involvement in current affairs. There is an expectation placed upon Universities to be leaders in supporting youngsters of today through these times and we hope some of our tips can help you be the institution your students need you to be.

Find out more

We believe we have provided you with tactics and techniques you can apply to ensure a strong reputation online during these times. If you wish to discuss what Unicom can do for you, or you’d like some further detail on any of the matters addressed in this blog you can contact us at hello@unicom.agency