Somehow in the past 6 months I have become obsessed with the business, culture and practice of Public Relations. Most likely it was because I started monitoring the #Tallahassee hashtag on Twitter, and started to see a lot of great conversations between PR folks in town (shout-outs below!). I am sure that most of this stuff comes as a given when constantly thinking about presenting a good image (for a company, brand or oneself) but in following PR chats and professionals these past few months I got to thinking – how could and should the University be interacting with current PR trends?
In my opinion, there’s a lot the academy needs to learn and catch up on. As some may know, I am in the process of developing a social media strategy for my office on campus, and while there are some great tips around the web for Web 2.0 engagement at the university, the PR’ers have a grasp on something that I think is slow to catch on in higher ed … constant, consistent brand management utilizing new media and communication. Of course there are Communications offices at all Colleges which do enormous amounts of great work, but what about all the little departments, offices and programs that could be interacting with their specific audiences and continuing to strengthen and reinforce the university’s brand?
Another hashtag I watch via Hootsuite is #FSU, for obvious reasons. While the majority of the comments are about our sports teams, every now and again one will slip through that is entirely relevant. For instance, I saw these two tweets yesterday – “In financial aid #fsu, they suck at organization,” and “why the hell is #fsu webmail not working?” It would seem, that to maintain good relationships with our ‘clients’ these sorts of things could be monitored and addressed right away, since the ‘client’ thought it important enough to share with immediacy.
To be fair, there are folks out there who are using new media PR tactics to connect with students (the SA (Student Affairs) Bloggers come to mind). This article by Ed Cabellon, Director, Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State College illustrates perfectly the marriage of PR and university that I think would be really worthwhile. The point, in my mind, is not to blast announcements out to students and overwhelm their social presence with chatter, but to at very least have our offices represented in their communication channels and to develop conversations in support of our brand, but on the students’ terms.
What’s the bottom line? I am taking notes. All you PR Tweeps and pro bloggers, keep up the good work. If I had it my way, I’d be working as a Communications Director for my entire division before the Fall semester kicks in, and I’d be coming to you for advice, following every tweet and copying your sly lists, techniques and best practices.
I’d love some feedback; I am still a novice – PR advice welcomed 😉
Resources and People: