Let Me Miss You

Recently, a friend and I were talking about the college searches our high school juniors have undertaken. My friend said something that made me pause: “I’m not encouraging my daughter to apply to colleges out-of-state, because I know I’ll miss her.” I didn’t respond at the time, because I didn’t have words to express how vehemently I disagreed with this statement. After processing my emotions, I’m choosing instead to write a letter to my daughter. Dear Love Bug— I could not be more proud of … Read more…

This November, I’m Taking Time to Be Thankful

I’ve been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time on a number of campuses over the past month. My recent zigzagging across the United States allowed me to hit 1 million airline miles on United Airlines and included the passage of the sixth anniversary of TVP Communications. While these two milestones held significance for me, it was the opportunity to inventory the amazing work being done by faculty and administrators and the benefits to students that made my heart happy. I mention this not … Read more…

Crisis Advice for our Admissions Colleagues

I recently received an email from Eric Hoover, a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was preparing his presentation for the National Association of College Admission Counseling conference on how to work with the media. In his message, he asked if I had any advice for dealing with a crisis like an enrollment shortfall or an admissions scandal. Below are the eight tips I shared with Eric. They might be helpful to you as campuses across the country kickoff the new admission … Read more…

What The Mooch can learn from Rumpelstiltskin and Higher Ed

I spent the past weekend pondering the recent changes made in the White House communications team and the reaction to these changes from the media and the general public. Last week President Trump named Anthony Scaramucci, nicknamed “The Mooch,” the new White House communications director and soon after Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary. There was initial excitement about having someone new in the White House, which was quickly followed by frustration and then mocking that not much had changed despite turnover in … Read more…

Tales from a Prospective Parent

I am pleased to announce I am officially the mother of a prospective college student. ME! Yes, me!! Truth be told, I’ve dreamed of this moment for the past 16 years and nine months. Well, that’s probably not the right way to frame my status. This is probably healthier: my daughter has reached the milestone of prospective student and I’m along for the ride. But dammit—I am so excited for this ride! It’s almost impossible for me to have attended college and worked in higher … Read more…

Quick Hit: Attention PR People!

Dear PR Colleagues– It is best when public relations professionals blend into the background (which is different than hiding in the bushes). We lose our ability to do our jobs when we become part of the story and it is impossible to be seen as a credible source of information if, instead, you are a distraction. If you find yourself in this situation: Extract yourself until you are no longer of interest. Take an active role in crafting the message rather than drafting it. Find … Read more…

What Is So Hard About “I’m sorry. We were wrong. We can do better.”?

There are a couple of elephants in the room this week for every PR professional across the country. The first is the need for and art of delivering apologies. And the second is finding a way to get senior leaders to issue those apologies when warranted. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on the topic of apologies and included what I thought was a strong (and necessary) apology. My advice still stands for addressing that first elephant in the room: My … Read more…

Thinking Long-term About a Good News Moment

I was recently having dinner with my colleague, Terry Flannery, and while we caught up she said something that made me pause. Terry is vice president for communications at American University in Washington, DC, and she mentioned that her office had developed a video marking the retirement of President Neil Kerwin that is being rolled out to alumni. In the video, she and her creative team used his inauguration speech as the narrative to weave together campus successes. Her actions reminded me of a principle … Read more…

Quick Hit: Bridging Versus Spinning

When conducting media training, I stress the use of bridging to shift from the question asked to an answer the respondent feels comfortable sharing. I stress that communicators must pair the right bridge with the question asked or it will feel like the speaker is being disingenuous with their response. In other words, it will feel like the speaker is spinning. Well, I just watched a video on Vox that breaks down KellyAnne Conway’s responses to questions, and boy, does my counsel ring true. This … Read more…

Fighting Alternative Facts with Facts

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A call for higher education leaders to advocate for the truth. There was a lot of water cooler and social media banter after Kellyanne Conway introduced the phrase “alternative facts” to our nation’s vocabulary. The overwhelming sentiment was that it is absurd to say there are multiple facts or data points to describe a single situation. After all, facts are facts. But not everyone was giggling at the concept. I’ve been asked by higher education leaders to share alternative facts and minimize situations that deserve truth. And I know from … Read more…