From 1979 to 1998, Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC served as president of DLSU. During those years, DLSU sent professors abroad to study, and to bring back valuable experience to the students and the blooming research university.
University Fellow, Dr. Tereso Tullao Jr., reflects on this period as a critical point for DLSU. DLSU professors made their mark in the country and abroad; the University was at a pinnacle of becoming one of the country’s, if not Asia’s leading research university.
Marketing, however, was not as good. Tullao remembers that during those times, DLSU did not brag or heavily publicize the works of professors and the achievements of the students. It was only recently that the soft marketing of DLSU was changed via the Marketing and Communications Office (MCO), which is now the Office for Strategic Communications (STRATCOM).
STRATCOM was created to improve the public relations of the University, and to heavily market DLSU’s programs and the DLSU brand.
Past issues and current improvements
Among the problems of departments and colleges in recent years, is publicity. Well-known professors continue to write award winning research papers, and DLSU representatives continue to dominate competitions, yet few students, know about the accomplishments of their professors, and the competitions that Lasallians continue to excel in.
School of Economics (SOE) Dean, Dr. Winfred Villamil cites an accomplishment that was left unacknowledged by the academe and the students. He shares that last year, a Lasallian won a Proctor and Gamble finance competition in Singapore. The Lasallian was the first Filipino to win the competition, beating representatives from well-known universities such as the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The brand of DLSU also had several problems for the past years. The main problem stems from the lack of information about DLSU. Incoming college students and their parents do not know the accomplishments of DLSU, and are not aware of the University’s world-class programs.
Student John Kevin Cheung (IV , ECM-MGT) explains that for incoming college students, other schools such as the University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) are perceived to be better. He goes on to emphasize that the people’s perception of DLSU as a university for the more financially fortunate students is the problem, despite the many accomplishments of the University and its different academic departments.
Recently, however, STRATCOM has started to market the University aggressively; the brand of DLSU is slowly improving. Fresh graduate Randall Cua (MGT, ’11) sees a better image of DLSU. He says, “I am confident that bearing the brand of a Lasallian will work to my advantage when I start looking for work next January.”
STRATCOM Marketing Coordinator Granneli Anne Mendoza shares that they have already undertaken several initiatives to help promote faculty achievements and research, both internally and externally.
“Usually, externally if there is a breakthrough research by one of our faculty, we inform the media partners and sometimes, the faculty gets interviewed (for press releases),” she explains. On the other hand, 2401, the University’s official newsletter, the Animo Board that showcases achievements made by Lasallians, and the Green Screen are used for internal marketing.
STRATCOM also conducts school tours and talks to encourage students from the top high schools in the country to enroll in DLSU.
Villamil also affirms that DLSU’s public relations (PR) is improving. He says that STRATCOM is doing a better job, and believes that the University should allocate more resources in marketing the image and the accomplishments of DLSU though more external efforts. External marketing is necessary to attract good students and faculty into the University.
Other universities and their students also recognize the new PR of DLSU. Fourth year Ateneo AB-Economics student, Aldrick Po, believes that DLSU’s marketing strategies are improving. He says that he is becoming more aware of DLSU and the university’s accomplishments through his Lasallian friends and STRATCOM’s online promotional campaigns.
Too much publicity is bad publicity
While DLSU is marketing itself very well, some contend that its efforts may be exaggerated. A professor who chose not to be identified pointed out that DLSU, in some cases, is a bit obsessed with publicity and keeping a squeky-clean image.
“The messages sent out are directed to a general audience, and are not formulated for specific groups,” the professor furthers.
Another criticism on the University’s marketing strategies is the focus of its external PR. In recent years, especially involving big changes in University policies and programs, such as the six-day school schedule and the construction of the Centennial Building, DLSU was unable to properly consult with the internal stakeholders of the University.
DLSU’s decisions on such projects and programs were seemingly done in haste. It also seemed like that the University prioritized the good image DLSU will get because of such projects and did not think as much about the logistical feasibility of the said programs.
“If DLSU faculty and staff are aware of these policy changes or new programs of the University (and are convinced of the soundness of these policies and programs), then they will be the best PR agents to their families, friends, and relatives,” the aforementioned professor points out.