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CHE April 2014 Newsletter

Inside this Issue

Chair’s Message

Dear Colleagues,

Your CHE Executive Committee is very excited about the upcoming Senior Summit (April 9–11, in Washington, D.C.). The Summit was started in the late 1990s by a small group of higher education public relations leaders who believed senior people and those who aspire to a senior role could connect with and learn from each other. Over the past 15 years, this annual gathering has become known as the event for networking, for recharging and for gaining insights on what other campuses are doing.

The Summit is a different kind of meeting. We meet together as one group, seated at round tables so that you can get to know colleagues from the U.S., Canada and overseas. There’s no rushing from room to room in some vast conference hotel. We build in plenty of time for attendees to talk with each other at networking breaks and breakfast roundtables. And there’s no giant trade show with vendors bribing you to drop a card into a fishbowl. Rather, you have the opportunity to connect personally with a small number of sponsors that people on the planning committee know and trust, such as Read Media, one of our longest-running Summit sponsors.

If you have never experienced the Senior Summit, why not make this your first year? I must warn you though; the Summit can be habit-forming. I’ve been coming since 2001, and I have developed a wonderful professional network of colleagues who have become my friends. We welcome newcomers and want every CHE member to know that you have a place at the Summit. Please join us!

Joe Brennan, APR
Chair, Counselors to Higher Education Executive Committee

Head to Washington, D.C., for the Senior Summit, April 9–11

The 2014 CHE Senior Summit, “Disruptive Innovation and Strategic Counsel: Keeping You and Your Institution Relevant,” April 9–11, in Washington, D.C., provides higher education public relations practitioners with the knowledge to manage the latest industry issues.

The Summit tailors networking and learning opportunities to relevant topics, such as crisis management, social media, and research and analytics.

“We have a great lineup of sessions geared towards the senior practitioner in higher education,” said Matt Nagel, chair of the Summit planning committee, and director of media relations and issues management at Georgia Tech.

The Senior Summit will feature Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, as well as John Knapp, president of Hope College. Both will share their perspectives on communications and higher education leadership.

Social media will figure prominently in this year’s Summit. A panel of representatives from LinkedIn and Facebook will describe how their platforms can benefit higher education. Two other sessions will feature case studies and examples of how social media has helped and hurt institutions, and how their communication professional used the right tools for their university.

Three sessions promise to be highly interactive, giving you plenty of opportunity to engage experts and colleagues from around the country. The conference opening roundtable discussion on how higher education institutions use consultants and agencies will pull from the audience’s experience as well as the moderator’s.

A media panel on the conference’s final day will feature journalists from U.S. News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Vox Media. The Senior Summit wraps up with a discussion led by the Florida state police chief about the critical relationships between a police department and the communications office.

Register Now!

Crisis Management Webinar, May 6

Join a webinar on crisis management with Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR, vice president of advancement, Harrisburg Area Community College, and John Sygielski, president of Harrisburg Area Community College. Sygielski made a similar presentation for CHE at the PRSA International Conference last October. It will take place at 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 6. Register today!

It’s You, It’s Not the PowerPoint
By Don Hale, vice president for public relations and marketing communications, Georgia State University, and principal, Don Hale PR

Once upon a time, presentations were made without PowerPoint.

Venerable public relations pros vaguely remember the ancient times when keyboards were essential parts of typewriters, facsimile machines were critical office equipment and people had conversations without pulling out their mobile phones to check Facebook or tweet.

The finest conference presenter I have ever seen used an easel and paper pad to get his points across. I took copious notes on everything he said, and I greatly appreciated the easel display because after talking to us he would pause and write key words and ideas on the paper.

As helpful as it was for note-taking, its more significant impact was that it helped the audience absorb the information. Hear it and see it. Works better that way.

You might walk into a presentation today in which an easel and paper pad are used, but you are far more likely to get PowerPoint, an oft-used communications tool that seems to be losing its luster after all these years.

More and more people are dissing PowerPoint and questioning its value and impact. Those folks have their fingers pointed in the wrong direction. The problem is not with the PowerPoint tool. It is with the people who are using it.

Having sat through an inordinate number of numbing PowerPoint shows, I have come to recognize common and almost universal problems and mistakes that almost all of the speakers made. So here’s my checklist on how not to use

PowerPoint, and some suggestions on how to make the tool work for you:

  • Jam as many words on the screen as you possibly can. Seems like many speakers simply write their presentation on the display. They show us complete sentences and entire paragraphs that mirror the words they are saying. Confine your display to key words, key ideas. Take a cue from the guy with the easel. You will greatly enhance understanding.
  • Use inconsistent word or sentence structures. Switching from a noun-verb construct to a noun-only construct forces your viewers to figure out too much. An exclusively noun construct is best because it leads to reduction of words and forces a more careful appraisal of key words and messages.
  • Choose a type size that enables you to challenge your audience’s eyesight and reading skills but allows you to deliver an even bigger payload of words and information.
  • Display complex charts and graphs loaded with data that cannot be read by anyone seated more than three feet from the screen.
  • Rely on “spell-check” to do your proofreading. You’ve got a lot riding on the credibility of your presentation. Spelling errors destroy it. Be meticulous about proofing your content.
  • Read the words on the screen. Perfect way to bring your presentation to a stultifying and awkward crescendo. Your best hope is that the audience reads along with you or watches your lips move. There is, of course, always the possibility they can read the words themselves while you provide related information.
  • Turn your back on the audience and refer to the display as if it were the outline to your speech. Your notes should be on paper or on the computer screen in front of you.
  • Play a five-minute video. It will run for a long, long time and force you to act extremely interested in a show you have seen a hundred times.

Fundamental to communication of any kind, including a PowerPoint presentation, is the need to put first in your thinking the receiver of that communication. Project yourself into your audience and reflect objectively on whether you would want to sit through your show. PowerPoint and other communications tools cannot work unless you do that.

Read more of Hale’s think pieces.

Iowa, Stanford, and Duke “Hangout” Together

On March 18, the University of Iowa’s Joseph Brennan, Stanford University’s Lisa Lapin and Duke University’s Michael Schoenfeld participated in part one of a two-part Google Hangout On Air series with executive communicators. The three discussed their roles as chief communications officer at their respective institutions and the strategies they use in advising their presidents and institutional leaders on how to navigate the challenges facing higher education today. They also offered practical advice for senior communicators and up-and-coming executive leaders who want to have an impact on their campuses.

Those watching the discussion submitted real-time questions on diverse topics, including how to demonstrate to senior leadership that tuition is a major issue for students and parents; the difficulties associated with branding large research universities; the role student employees should — and shouldn’t — play in handling the university voice; and how to manage the tension between public relations and marketing. Brennan, Lapin and Schoenfeld were thoughtful and gracious as they provided a high-level perspective on these all-too-real issues for communicators operating in the higher education arena.

“Very informative,” and “Better than any webinar I’ve participated in,” were two comments made on the Google+ events page. Read the tweets at #CHEHangout.

Did you miss the event? No need to fret. PRSA members can watch the recording by logging into the PRSA website and visiting the CHE home page. And don’t forget to mark Thursday, June 5, at 11 a.m. EDT on your calendar, when the University of Michigan’s Lisa Rudgers and Georgia Institute of Technology’s Michael Warden will “hangout” for part two of this online presentation.

Learn About Dan Zaiontz’ #FollowtheLeader Social Media Research

Dan Zaiontz, special projects coordinator and professor of event marketing management at Seneca College, discussed his research on the best social media practices of higher education leaders during a PRSA CHE teleconference on March 11.

Zaiontz shared what he learned when he interviewed more than 20 North American college and university presidents last year as the lead investigator for the #FollowtheLeader research.

View Zaiontz’ presentation.

The Future of Public Relations Depends on You: Calling All Teachers
By Judy VanSlyke Turk, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, and Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, co-chairs of the Educational Initiatives Committee of the PRSA College of Fellows

The Learning to Teach program is a collaborative effort led by PRSA’s College of Fellows Educational Initiatives committee, PRSA’s Educational Affairs committee and PRSA’s Educators Academy. It is designed to give those public relations professionals who want to teach — as either an adjunct or full-time professor — an introduction to academia and a foundation for success in the classroom.

Last year, we began with some research of our PRSA members and discovered that only 1 percent of respondents had taken the Learning to Teach course, though 60 percent said they were very likely to consider an adjunct position in the future and 26 percent said they were very likely to consider a full-time teaching position. Sixty-three percent said they would take the Learning to Teach course if it were offered remotely.

About Learning to Teach

We have developed a “short course” introductory session (one hour) and a longer, in-depth session (three hours) that covers the following:

  • Guidelines on looking for a teaching position.
  • The application process.
  • The “honeymoon vs. reality” behind teaching — duties and expectations.
  • Basic tools and resources for developing materials.
  • Tips for effective course planning, and researching the history of your course.
  • Measuring learning.

This year, several PRSA Sections, Chapters and Districts are sponsoring programs on Learning to Teach — via teleconferences or via programs piggybacked on their conferences. If enough people register, the course might also be offered at the PRSA International Conference in October 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Interested in learning more? Please contact Robin Schell at or (603) 770-3607.

Spread the Word

The Counselors to Higher Education is always looking to enrich its membership with senior-level practitioners eager to learn, to share their expertise with peers and to contribute to the profession. If you know someone who should be a member of CHE, please send that person’s name and contact information to Nancy Collins, APR, at We’ll do our best to persuade your colleague to join.

Share Your News

Did you get a new job, earn your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) or win an award? If so, CHE wants to hear about it and share it in the newsletter. Please send your news to

The Counselors to Higher Education Executive Committee

Executive Committee Members:

  • Nancy Collins, APR, communications strategist, Collins Communications
  •  Jeanette DeDeimar, Ph.D., associate vice president of university relations, Florida State University
  • Lori Doyle, senior vice president for university communications, Drexel University
  • Tom Eppes, APR, Fellow PRSA, chief communications officer, The University of Mississippi
  • Dana Fair, APR, senior marketing communications strategist for information and technology services, University of Michigan
  • Don Hale, ‎vice president for public relations and marketing communications, Georgia State University
  • Randell J. Kennedy, president, Academy Communications
  •  Charlie Melichar, APR, senior consultant, Marts and Lundy
  •  John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, Quinnipiac University
  • Matt Nagel, APR, director of media relations and issues management for institute communications, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Steve Roulier, director of marketing and communications, Springfield College

Welcome New Members:

Mary Wade Atteberry, APR, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Ind.                           
Ted Boscia, Cornell University College of Human Ecology, Ithaca, N.Y.                    
Robin Kay Cole, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.                                                       
Susan L. Davis, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, Calif.            
Stephanie Franz, Cuyahoga Community College, Broadview Heights, Ohio                          
Karin Grennan, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Calif.                       
Laura Jacobs, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark.                               
Patricia R. Kelvin, Ph.D., APR, Poland, Ohio                                                         
Monica Yant Kinney, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
Felisa Neuringer Klubes, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C.                  
Joe Lyons, Quakertown, Pa.
Kirstin B. Olmstead, University of Alaska Anchorage, Eagle River, Alaska                            
Maria O’Mara, University of Utah, West Jordan, Utah
Denise Passmore, University of South Florida – College of Nursing, Tampa, Fla.                  
Stephen J. Pradarelli, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa                  
Roy W. Reid Jr., APR, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.                   
Carol Smith, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.                               
Jonathan Robert Strunk, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio                                            
Karen A. Uthe Seamancik, Magnificent High School, Rocky River, Ohio                     
Dova Heather Wilson, George Washington University, Ashburn, Va.                         
Meredith Chase York, The University of Texas at Dallas, Plano, Texas

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