Phoenix Pays to Tell Its Story

When it comes to marketing, the University of Phoenix doesn’t like to be outdone. Its advertisements are ubiquitous on public transportation and television, its name is splashed across the Arizona stadium that hosted the 2008 Super Bowl, and earlier this summer it offered scholarships to members of the Boys and Girls Club as part of its sponsorship of basketball star LeBron James’s announcement of his next career move.

But while those efforts help spread Phoenix’s name by reaching a wide audience, they haven’t prevented intense scrutiny from Congress, the Obama administration and various news outlets. The university and its parent company, the Apollo Group, are looking for new ways to bolster their credibility in the halls of Congress, the offices of policy makers, and the living rooms of the well-educated and well-informed.

While Kaplan Higher Education has The Washington Post brand and the backing of the Graham family to boost its reputation and to give Kaplan officials a chance to respond to any negative news about for-profit colleges, Phoenix doesn’t have a similar way of ensuring that its voice is heard in media coverage. In hopes of conveying Phoenix’s side of the for-profit college debate even when reporters on deadline don’t come calling, the company has begun sponsoring media events.

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