Don’t make me read about it in the newspaper.

Why don’t we enlist the people who learn, teach and work on our campuses as partners in the communication strategy? Why is it that good news, bad news, plans, and priorities of the university often appear in newspapers before the internal audience “knows?” After all, a strong internal communication program means that your faculty, staff and students are better equipped to deliver your message.

Think about it. Your faculty, staff and students get the chance to talk about you – locally, nationally and internationally. I am regularly consulted informally about a W&M-related topic – in the grocery store, at the dentist’s office, or like today, while getting my hair cut. Consider that our faculty and staff travel regularly and our students go home to their own communities and often attend international universities – all chances to spread the message (if they have it). Realize how facebook, blogs and other social communities could multiply (almost instantaneously) the numbers of individuals who read what our traditional university PR outlets releases only to static print and web home pages.

We can all figure out the cumulative effect of missed opportunities to, at a minimum, reinforce the goals of our campuses. But here’s something else to think about: when my first update about an important happening at my university is delivered to me at the same time as the guy next door, I may be inclined to add a snarky comment when informally asked.

my neighbor: “So what’s going on at W&M? I just read an article about X.”

me: “You know as much as I do. I heard about it the same way you did – through this morning’s paper.”

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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