In This Issue:
As the end of the fall term of 2013 rapidly approaches — which happens to coincide with the end of my two-year term as chair of the Counselors to Higher Education Section — it is time to start looking forward to the New Year.
In January, the new chair of our Section takes over. Joe Brennan, Ph.D., vice president of strategic communication, The University of Iowa, brings a lot of experience in higher education to his new position at Iowa, as well as his new role as your incoming chair. In preparation for 2014, Joe and the rest of the CHE Executive Committee had a strategic planning retreat, last summer, during which we developed an operating plan for Section activities, programs and initiatives. The plan is a document that all Professional Interest Sections must prepare and submit to PRSA National to justify their budgets for the coming year. If you’d care to read it, feel free to click here.
The operating plan is an ambitious program of work to deliver valuable programming to our membership. Unlike our professional jobs, we depend not on people we hire and pay to perform — we rely on volunteers. The volunteer leadership of the Section is responsible for executing our operating plan each year. Leadership consists of a chair, chair-elect (who also serves as secretary), past chair and Executive Committee. That is a group of 12–15 members representing the various kinds of institutions that most of our more than 465 Section members serve.
As I look back on my 12 years in CHE, I realize that it has been one of the most beneficial professional organizations that I have had the privilege to experience. Since its founding 14 years ago, CHE has built up its programming and other membership benefits, including this newsletter, monographs and thought pieces on the practice, webinars and teleseminars, as well as our annual Senior Summit, easily the best annual conference for higher education PR practitioners I have found. For me, the greatest benefits have been helping to build those programs, and the network of PR professionals who constitute the CHE membership.
You can expand the value and benefit of your membership, too. Start volunteering to support the various programs that benefit everyone in the Section. Then, consider becoming a part of the Section leadership through service on the Executive Committee — which can eventually lead to an officer role. I promise you will find it the most rewarding experience of your professional life, and you will develop an even closer network of friends and colleagues to count on for advice, counsel and support in good times and bad. Networks are for more than job searches — they enrich our professional lives and our personal development as leaders in our practice and our profession.
Would you like to:
Membership is just the start. Take the next step for yourself and for our profession and consider volunteering. Even doing just one thing for CHE will be a benefit to you and to all of us.
Michael L. Warden, APR
Social media is playing an increasingly critical role in the communications strategies of colleges and universities across America. As more prospective students, current students, parents, alumni, neighbors, faculty, staff and members of the media sign on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, the value and importance of every post has never been higher. With more eyes watching and higher levels of participation and distribution than ever before, it is important to disseminate news accurately, compellingly and creatively, in a timely and concise way.
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m., Jamie DeLoma, assistant director of public relations and social media, Quinnipiac University, in Hamden, Conn., will explore the approaches he has initiated to grow the institution's social media presence exponentially over the past half-decade. Among the talking points:
Over the past four years, DeLoma has guided the growth and implementation of the university's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wordpress, Pinterest and Google+ networks, as well as crafted and implemented the institution's social media policy and guidelines. Between earning a bachelor's degree in print journalism and a master's degree in interactive communications at Quinnipiac, DeLoma worked as a news editor at NBC News and the Fox News Channel in New York. He has also worked as a reporter and editor at . DeLoma has presented on social media at public relations and journalism conferences across the United States.
To register for this free teleconference, please email CHEPRSA@gmail.com.
I received another huge packet the other day. Several packets, in fact. They don’t all fit in a single inter-office envelope. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have common characteristics. They are colorful. They are hugely self-serving. And they are an enormous waste of time, energy and resources.
What should I do with these packets? This is a problem that has long plagued me and my colleagues who lead public relations at colleges and universities. My first thought is to trash them. On second thought, I consider whether there might be something valuable inside. Should I spend some time running through the pile? Would it provide ideas or inspiration for colleagues in our operation?
It’s a tough management decision, but I’m no rookie. Fortunately, I’ve been around this business for quite a while and have been put in this position by every president for whom I’ve worked. Presidents get deluged with alumni magazines, research magazines, annual reports and promotional brochures from all kinds of colleges and universities, some unknown to me. And they all quickly ship them out to folks like me, unopened, unread and often unseen. Their secretaries or administrative assistants typically handle the distribution and disposal problem.
It seems that some presidents, vice presidents and deans continue to believe against all evidence that sending these four-color, big-ticket publications to their counterparts will benefit them in the notorious U.S. News & World Report reputational surveys.
A fundamental principle of communication is that it does not occur unless a connection is made between the sender of a message and the receiver. Sadly, this precept has been largely ignored by colleges and universities across the country.
While this concept is almost comical, it is illustrative of a larger problem that should have the attention of communications professionals: Our institutions are wasting a great deal of money on printed pieces that no one reads. Even in the digital age, in which some have moved print documents onto the Web, there are thousands upon thousands of publications being produced for one main reason — “that’s what we’ve always done.”
The time has come for public relations people to address this problem. It’s not an easy assignment on the decentralized campus. Individual colleges, schools, departments and units produce their own publications, using their own resources. There is sometimes no connection among pieces produced by departments in the same colleges and schools. Some of this stuff is produced by grad students or administrative assistants with little or no communications experience or skill.
As challenging and problematic as it may be, communications professionals have a responsibility to establish and pursue a high quality standard, and to try to bring some measure of consistency to their institutions’ communications. Quality and consistency are extremely valuable communications currency, but cost-savings might be the key to achieving publications sanity. It just might be time for pros at colleges and universities to propose a communications audit in which quality, consistency, effectiveness and cost are pillars of the project. Put philosophical communications arguments aside. Surely, presidents, VPs, deans and unit heads would rather spend their money on meaningful projects and programs than on communications tools and channels that reach no one.
Back to those publications packets — what do I do, having been enlightened by years of management experience, with the glossy magazines shipped from the president’s office? I quickly go through my pile of magazines and brochures, look for the best examples of inept and outdated design and content, and share those with the people who produce our publications. (There are plenty of hilarious examples. I just received an alumni magazine a couple of weeks back where the president was doing some kind of staged dance with a dozen students on the cover.)
It’s good for a laugh and for staff morale. It’s also exhilarating because we know we can look forward to getting something even more pointless and absurd in the next shipment.
However, these ineffectual publications serve a more important purpose. They remind us that we owe institutions more than just cranking out the same fodder year after year. We owe them leadership, thoughtful analysis and evaluation, and new ideas on meaningful communications that will reach our target constituencies.
More than 50 public relations professionals turned out to hear Jeff Selingo, author, “College (Un)bound,” and editor-at-large, The Chronicle of Higher Education, speak at the CHE Section event on Oct. 28, at Drexel University, during the 2013 PRSA International Conference held in Philadelphia.
As one of America’s foremost observers of higher education, Selingo shared his insights on the current state of affairs in higher education, based on what he learned while writing his book.
Many thanks go to CHE members Lori Doyle and Jim Katsaounis for sponsoring the event, which was held in Drexel’s art gallery, and to the Drexel and PRSA staff for all their work in organizing this highlight event.
Higher education is in a time of disruptive change. Schools and colleges are under increasing pressure to further institutional missions while maintaining their legacies. On Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 11 a.m. EST, CHE will host a Google+ Hangout On Air discussion with five executive-level university communicators. The conversation will focus on the evolving role of public relations in response to the changing landscape. CHE members will be able to listen or view online and pose questions. Those hoping to gain insight into leading-edge PR strategies being used at some of the nation’s leading institutions are encouraged to attend.
Mark Your Calendars for the PRSA 2014 CHE Senior Summit
The 2014 CHE Senior Summit, “Disruptive Innovation and Strategic Counsel: Keeping Your Institution (and You) Relevant,” will take place April 9–11, in Washington, D.C.
The Senior Summit provides higher education public relations practitioners with the tools and techniques to approach the latest industry issues. This event offers creative approaches to keep you in the forefront of communication strategies and tactics.
The summit tailors networking and learning opportunities to relevant topics gaining traction, such as crisis management, social media, and research and analytics.
If you would like to serve on the Planning Committee for the 2014 Senior Summit, please contact Event Chair Matt Nagel, APR, director of media relations and issues management for institute communications, the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The following members joined the CHE Section from Aug. 1–Oct. 31, 2013. You can view the entire Section roster in the PRSA Member Directory
Johanna Lee Altland, Grantham University, Somerset, N.J.
Dianne Anderson, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.
Alan Ashby, WhiteSpace Creative, Akron, Ohio
Susan Bauer, LIM College, New York, N.Y.
Ann Booth, Fairmont State University, Fairmont, W.Va.
Zaundra Brown, Clarkston, Ga.
Greg Cannon, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Timothy Patrick Carroll, APR, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, Colo.
Joel G. Curran, APR, MSLGROUP, New York, N.Y.
Bryan C. Daniels, MA, Ameren Missouri, St. Louis, Mo.
Meenakshi Gigi Durham, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Sandy Dylak, Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, N.Y.
Patrick Austin Falley, Kansas University School of Business, Lawrence, Kan.
Janie Graziani, Stetson University, DeLand, Fla.
Bill F. Handy, STF, Tulsa, Okla.
Edwina Harris, Central State University, Fairborn, Ohio
Maggie L. Huffman, Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, Ore.
Melanie Knight, Houston Community College Southwest, Houston, Texas
Billie McCain, University of Baltimore, Nottingham, Md.
Jared C. Meade, Owens Community College, Toledo, Ohio
Rachel Nadeau, Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest, Evansville, Ind.
Amy Elizabeth Pellegrin, Fairmont State University, Fairmont, W.Va.
Rebecca M. Polston, APR, Harrison College, Indianapolis, Ind.
Tony Proudfoot, Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
John L. Pulley, The Pulley Group, Arlington, Va.
Thomas Reed, Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va.
Mary Janice Sacavage, Penn State Schuylkill, Schuylkill Haven, Pa.
Melinda Semadeni, Brigham Young University (BYU), Provo, Utah
Julie Ross Senter, APR, University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business, Birmingham, Ala.
Jeannine Ann Sherman, Carroll University, Waukesha, Wis.
Kathrynne Skonicki, Lewis University, Romeoville, Ill.
Candace E. Smith, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Veronica Steele, Concordia University Irvine, Irvine, Calif.
Melanie A. Tep, California State University, Fullerton, Walnut, Calif.
Robert Harold Tucker, Jr., James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Alanna Marie Vitucci, Northcentral University, Ft. McDowell, Ariz.
Catherine Wilde, University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, Buffalo, N.Y.
Kelly D. Williams, Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Fortson, Ga.
Cathy Renee Williams, California State University, Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Bill Wyatt, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Do you know a colleague who should be a member of CHE but isn't yet? If so, please contact our recruitment chair Nancy Collins, APR, with that person's name and contact information. We'll do our best to persuade him or her to join our growing community!