What Boston University Needs You to Know

Boston University’s latest public relations campaign is designed, surprised, to help the school climb the U.S. News & World Report ladder. The school now ranks 53rd in the country. But oddly, this one isn’t targeted to appeal to potential students. The new campaign is aimed at “thought leaders.”

According to an article By Stuart Elliott in the New York Times:

The campaign, now under way, promotes Boston University as a center for world-class research. The image-building campaign, in print and online, is different from the typical campaign from a college or university that is aimed at potential students and their parents.

That target audience is composed of deans, provosts and presidents at other universities and colleges — the people who respond to those [reputation] surveys.

Under the currently methodology used by U.S. News & World Report, 25 percent of the college ranking comes from a survey of a college’s reputation. This reputation survey, or peer assessment, measures how people “feel” about a college. This ambiguous category counts more than anything else the publication considers.

The roughly $500,000 BU campaign is run by Allen & Gerritsen, a Massachusetts advertising agency. It’s an interesting operation.

As Elliott explains:

The campaign carries the theme “The world needs to know,” which is meant to have two meanings. One is that “the world needs to know” more about the important discoveries being made at Boston University. The other meaning is that “The world needs to know” more about B.U.

The text of each ad describes those findings as a reason that Boston University is among the “leading,” “most respected” or “great” centers of “research and knowledge” — and “why thinking differently about our world begins with B.U.”

None of this actually indicates, however, that BU is a better school. Though surely BU does have “great” centers of “research and knowledge,” so do all other national universities. The world should probably know that fact, too.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer