OH in Higher Ed Circles: 6 things that drive us mad (and a new webinar!)

Picture this: Six people working on six different campuses are seated around a round table having lunch at a higher ed conference. Before the salad course ends, they’ve figured out how much they have in common. All are facing similar challenges — and more relevant to this blog post — all regularly experience the same frustrations.

Next imagine this: 600 people working on 600 different campuses are members of a circle in Google+. These folks are sometimes even more direct as they selectively share their frustrations and the barriers to high-quality marketing and communications programs on their campuses. It’s been know to happen.

Regardless of their institutional affiliation, when marketing and communications professionals gather they bond over similar concerns. And, when I consult with community colleges, multi-campus publics, music conservatories, or small liberal arts colleges, I observe a similar chorus. Six themes overheard in higher ed are:

  1. Committees
    Often viewed as the bane of the higher ed administrator’s existence, committees are unwieldy, slow to act, and sometimes set up to avoid a decision. Even when called by another name (task force), they present challenges; you must find ways to use them well.
  2. Feedback
    It’s exhausting when you are caught in a seemingly unending feedback loop while staring down a deadline. Worse, you find yourself responding to the personal preferences of internal stakeholders at the expense of the target audience. You need to control the fire hose.
  3. Resources
    Another week, another new task or set of expectations. Our teams regularly take on new initiatives and responsibilities but rarely stop doing the less valuable work we’ve always done. You need to make it stop.
  4. Change
    We’re pretty good at digging in within the academy. But some amount of change is needed for almost any great idea. Take off your blinders, stop pushing past the resistance, and instead use personal benefits to influence stakeholders.
  5. Turf
    Using softer language, we refer to silos when we’re really talking about turf. Regardless, we’re not farmers and we need to turn things toward a focus on business needs and the greater institutional good.
  6. Relationships
    Perhaps a surprising addition to this list, relationship building should always be a factor. Regular reflection about the approach and style you use with peers, members of your team, senior leaders, and your boss is never a waste of time.

Perhaps this post is spot on with its summary of concerns you have. Next up, let’s address those concerns. I’ll try to do just that on Thursday, March 27, at 2:00 PM ET, when I host a free webinar entitled, “OH in Higher Ed Circles: 6 things that drive us mad.” Talking through each of the six things that probably bug you every week, I’ll share tips, ideas, and advice for making your way around the barriers to excellent marketing and communications work on your campus. I hope you’ll join me for this free mStoner webinar as we discuss ways to cope and succeed!

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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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