Week in Review

The higher ed world got a glimpse into the PIRS college ratings system proposed by President Obama a year and a half ago—and it’s still not quite ready. After all of the anticipation, we needed to get rid of our excess energy. Naturally, we danced it out.

 

What’s new this week:

 

Frostburg State University’s president Jonathan Gibralter is on a roll! His expertise and reputation as one of higher education’s most prominent leaders in conversations about campus drinking was highlighted in a PBS NewsHour segment over the weekend.

 

What we’ve been talking about:

 

Kristine Maloney wrote an insightful piece on how journalists and PR professionals can bounce back from media hits by working together.

 

Since we’re sharing sage advice from Kristine and in case you missed the memo, both Kristine and Erin Hennessy offered thoughts on why the press release is dying. These are must reads and some helpful resources to share the next time you are asked to write a press release announcing a clog dancing event or the Mathletes’ competition successes.

 

And on the lighter side, the TVP Comms team has been Jib Jabbing its way through the 12 Days of Christmas.

 

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Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were tweeting about this week:

 

 

For all of the latest news and media successes from TVP Communications, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

 

Media and PR Pros: Time to Do Our Jobs Better, Together

To say it’s been a disappointing month in the world of higher education public relations would be an understatement. The Rolling Stone cover story that so many hoped would create real change in how campuses handle sexual assaults has in fact taken attention away from the issue and cast a damning shadow over the media industry and journalism profession in its place. So, maybe that’s why many of us were taken aback when we saw this story in The Chronicle of Higher Education last week: When the Media Get Science Research Wrong, University PR May Be the Culprit.

 

The headline hurts—emotionally, physically. It hurts—perhaps more because it was written by someone who worked closely with university PR offices and who likely had positive experiences with at least some of us. It hurst more because the author’s own profession was also under scrutiny due to the actions of a few – in the high profile Rolling Stone case and a New York Magazine story which reported that high school investors made $72 million in the stock market. (In reality, they made nothing.)

 

Yet while it deeply angered many university PR staffers and inspired language not suitable for this blog, I was more dejected than anything else. Disappointed by what happened and saddened by how it reflected on my work and my industry. I read the story and saw mistakes made by several parties, including the researchers and reporters—not just the university’s PR officer. We will never know the true intent of any of the people involved in this incident, but we can use it as an opportunity to remind journalists (and others) that we, too, operate according to a code of ethics and that most public relations professionals don’t overpromise or sensationalize stories. It’s unethical and it’s just too risky—like career-ending risky.

 

In general I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has an off day. Everyone can make mistakes—and obviously some have been made recently in both the PR and media worlds. In the spirit of the holidays, let’s put this month behind us and face the next one together – on the same team. Because really, whether both sides would admit it or not—we need each other.

 

And when done right, a well-researched and delivered pitch that results in a fact-based, compelling and informative story is a truly beautiful thing. A beautiful thing that can impact policy and create real change. It’s why I love this business and why I won’t let recent events define it. Time for people on both sides of the process—journalists and public relations professionals—to step up our game and do our jobs better. That is the only way to change our reputations and make people see the value we add

Week in Review

Prepare for the TVP Comms team to get in the holiday (and by holiday I mean dancing) spirit and follow us on Twitter as we count down to our holiday break. Watch us kick off the festivities!

 

Until then, keep up with of all the latest in our corner of the higher ed world by scrolling down…

 

 

What’s new this week:

 

We have lots of congratulations to hand out to clients this week!

 

Congratulations to the communications team at California State University San Marcos for landing this fantastic spotlight of president Karen Haynes. She’s pretty amazing and we’re pleased to see others agree!

 

New Mexico State University board member and Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales was featured in an AGB Trusteeship spotlight.

 

Way to go, Wheelock College, for earning a top presidential honor in community service!

 

Frostburg State University was highlighted as featured member this week for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

 

And speaking of Frostburg, stay tuned to PBS NewsHour tonight for an interview with President Dr. Jonathan Gibralter!

 

 

What we’ve been talking about:

 

Ali Lincoln looked at latest Brookings Institute study, which highlights why formal financial literacy education is important for all students.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter!

 

Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were tweeting about this week:

 

 

For all of the latest news and media successes from TVP Communications, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

 

Brookings Study Reinforces Need for Financial Literacy

While there may not have been anything truly unexpected or groundbreaking in the Brookings Institute study that was released this week, it did reinforce the importance of financial literacy—and access to it.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I was not the most financially literate college student. In fact, if I had been included in this study when I was in school, I probably would have been among those who didn’t know about their loan debt. And the stats are concerning—51% of students underestimating their loans is troubling, as is students with loans out thinking they have no loan debt.

 

But what was more troubling for me is the inequality that David Leonhardt highlighted as a “fascinating wrinkle” in his New York Times Upshot article. He points out that the study looked at one selective four-year public university whose students have strong SAT/ACT scores and come from more affluent families, and those students were better able to accurately estimate their debt, erring on the side of overestimating. The affluence of their families probably means that their parents already know how to manage money well, and these students had some exposure to at least informal financial education.

 

Similarly for me, while I may have not have been very knowledgeable when it came to understanding my financial aid, I had financially savvy parents and a general idea about the importance of saving money. Low-income students might not have parents who feel confident about their financial capabilities and money management habits, and so they may not have had the same type of informal financial exposure.

 

Financial literacy gaps truly do need to be addressed through formal instruction, and the earlier, the better. To get a driver’s license, students aren’t expected to have mastered the skills necessary to drive a vehicle after one test. Instead, they observe the skills of others, take a course, get hands-on practice, and then still have to pass multiple tests; and it doesn’t matter what exposure they’ve already had at home, everyone still has to do it.

 

So why should we expect that students should be equipped to understand everything about their loans after entrance and exit counseling? Doesn’t it make sense to have them observe the skills of others, take a course, and get hands-on practice? Financial literacy education is such an easy step toward reducing student loan debt burdens—I feel like it should have it’s own PSA with the familiar “The More You Know” star. Because seriously, the more students know about their financial standing in college, the better off we’ll all be.

 

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Week in Review

Welcome back! Hopefully, you’ve recovered from any food comas and haven’t succumbed to turkey overload…because it’s officially time for holiday specials on TV! ABC Family stepped up it’s game this year by including old favorites like Scrooged and respecting some new classics like Arthur Christmas. Still no Garfield Christmas Special on the schedule, though…

 

Read more below for the higher ed news that kicked off December.

 

What’s new this week:

 

California State University – San Marcos makes sure to keep higher education accessible to veterans and active military personnel. The university’s president, Dr. Karen Haynes, gives thanks for a lively military presence on campus in a Union-Tribune San Diego piece.

 

Dr. Jonathan Gibralter, president of Frostburg State University, is one of the most prominent higher education leaders in the conversations about alcohol and substance abuse on campus. His expertise was included in multiple outlets discussing the topic, including U.S. News & World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

It’s the time of year when federal student loan grace period is ending for recent college graduates, and Higher One’s Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy Director Mary Johnson has all the details in a new Huffington Post article.

 

Campus Labs got a shout out for its great work in ed tech in a piece at Inside Higher Ed.

 

Drake University’s Vice President for Admission and Student Financial Planning Tom Delahunt helped to clarify FAFSA misconceptions with some insight on Nerd Wallet.

 

What we’ve been talking about:

 

At some point or another, most institutions face crisis situations of some sort. TVP Comms principal Teresa Valerio Parrot outlined some things you can do now to ensure you have a sound communications plan at the ready in case something does happen on your campus.

 

Erin Hennessy recapped her presentation at the American Council on Education’s National Women’s Leadership Forum and offered tips to help take anxiety out of media relations.

 

Follow us on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were tweeting about this week:

 

For all of the latest news and media successes from TVP Communications, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Taking the Anxiety Out of Media Relations

This morning, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of rising women leaders in higher education who are participating in the American Council on Education’s National Women’s Leadership Forum. Because ACE will always hold a special place in my heart, it was a special thrill to be invited by my former colleagues to talk about media relations and thought leadership. And the Council’s longstanding commitment to preparing women for college and university leadership roles is so important as we continue to see the rates of women reaching senior positions slow and stagnate.

 

The Forum agenda covered a number of areas that often cause rising leaders stress – fundraising, contract negotiation, search strategy, and board engagement. And, of course, communications and media relations.

 

In the hour I had with these accomplished and engaged women, we covered a lot of ground – how to prepare for an interview, how to work closely with your media relations team, and how to identify thought leadership opportunities. I shared with the group my “embroidered sofa pillows” – the couple of mantras I hope they will repeat to themselves when preparing for their interactions with the media now and in their future leadership positions.

 

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And hopefully I left the group with the knowledge that while working with media relations can be anxiety-inducing, it doesn’t have to be. And we need them out there, engaging proactively with all of our publics to tell compelling stories about our institutions.

 

Refining Your Crisis Communications Plan and Identifying Resources

Fairly often, as I read the rundown from our industry’s news leaders, I come across articles or blog posts describing an institution’s crisis and offering critique, either as quotes in the piece or in the comments, of the way in which it was handled and—just as importantly—how it was communicated. I even have a Google Alert set to provide me with updates for specific situations and had to adjust my preferences to receive once-a-day updates because I was receiving too many emails.

 

Our team talks with institutions in crisis almost daily and provides recommendations for drafting and deploying communications in sticky situations. This fall, it seems the advice we are sharing most often with administrators is the benefit of telling the truth. I know it sounds trite, but I know of no better way to share positive or negative news with a campus community. The keys, however, to how that news is received are the words chosen, the actions behind the words, the timeliness of the distribution and the way in which it is rolled out. As communications professionals, we have to monitor the nuances of all of these elements if we have any hope for success.

 

In addition to advocating for the truth, I’m also a big fan of creating a solid crisis communications plan prior to facing any crisis event and doing the work necessary to keep it relevant. Recently I’ve fielded a number of questions from our peers asking how to take a crisis plan that is gathering dust on a shelf and conform it to today’s campus needs. Below are six thoughts for approaching that task.

 

  • Consider the internal resources available to you. Should you confront a crisis you are going to need a main spokesperson, but your administrators, faculty and possibly students can provide necessary color commentary to round out the story. I highly recommend having your cadre of commenters media trained. You aren’t looking to teach them to spin—instead you want them to use relatable language to share their perspective and/or expertise truthfully.
  • Be willing to have others weigh in. Institutions and individuals pay membership dues to associations for a variety of reasons including professional development, opportunities to connect with peers, advocacy on behalf of their profession and to provide landscape perspectives when a crisis hits. I would never ask an association to jump into a crisis and defend an institution if they don’t have a connection or sufficient information, but I would ask an association if they could provide a national perspective on the tough issues facing our industry. That type of perspective is often helpful.
  • Put your association memberships to work. CASE has a number of crisis communications tools available to members on their website within the InfoCenter. The resources range from past CURRENTS content to sample crisis plans to expert tips from the field. If you need any help navigating the CASE archives, I recommend reaching out to Cindy Moon-Barna (cmoon-barna@case.org), who is more than willing to walk you through their extensive resource center.
  • Build relationships with peers.I’m a big fan of networking at conferences so that I can call on my peers if their expertise can help a client, but you can replicate my connectivity. And maintaining those relationships can pay dividends. I recently helped a colleague with a small bit of work, because I respect him and wanted his communication rollout to go well. As luck would have it, I had reason I reach out to him not two weeks later. I asked if he could walk me through a tricky situation he faced at his previous place of employment that had strong parallels to a situation a client was facing. Based on our relationship, I was able to ask about his experiences and bounced some of my ideas off of him. Everyone can be made stronger with the insights of our peers. I welcome brainstorming calls, because those collaborative moments allow me to understand the latest internal and external pressures our peers are experiencing.
  • Ask what external help may be available. A crisis is the worst time to feel like finances prevent you from being at the top your game for your institution. There are a number of solutions to ask for in advance. For example, does your institution’s insurance policy allow for crisis communications assistance? As an example, TVP Communications partners with United Educators; we are a pre-approved crisis communications service provider for UE’s member schools, colleges and universities that may require specialized planning and communications services for a covered crisis event. Ask your risk manager what benefits might be available to you based on your institution’s insurance. And meet with your alumni relations peers—your institution may have alumni who works as crisis or PR professionals and can serve as counsel. Even if their focus isn’t academia they might serve as a sounding board for your general approach.
  • Consider how the media has covered similar issues. It is very rare that our crisis communications team gets to work on an entirely new crisis situation. Of course each situation has its own nuances and repercussions, but we face very specific and often repeating issues within academia. For that reason, I encourage you to Google key terms relevant to your crisis, identify institutions that have faced something similar and then use those names and key words in searches on the Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education’s websites. Look for how the institution responded (actions and words), how it was received and how commenters on the site weighed in. Finally, perform those same key word searches in a couple of different social media platforms to see how it was received outside of the industry, too.

 

And finally, make sure you’ve put in place a support network for you and your team so that you can stay on top of your game, too. This should include an emergency stash of protein bars (or maybe chocolate) and a selection of menus from restaurants that deliver to your office. It’s also nice to have a schedule/group calendar to ensure coverage for your institution and get your team to family events and holiday festivities.

Other thoughts?

Consultant Wonder Team, Activate!

In our last gratitude post this week, we’d like to celebrate our work as a team here at TVP Communications. Gooooooo Team TVP Comms!

 

Kristine Maloney 

I’ve been known to gush over how awesome my colleagues are, how much I have learned from each of them, how well we all work together, how respectful and genuinely caring they are, how hard they make me laugh, and how they make me look forward to hard work.

 

This year I am especially thankful for the newest members of the TVP Communications team, Erin, Ali and Brian. I couldn’t imagine work—or life—without them and am truly honored to call them colleagues and friends.

 

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Teresa and Kyle, what I wrote last year at Thanksgiving still applies and then some.

 

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I’m also truly thankful for the many media successes of our clients this year. They are doing awesome work and have been able to share some pretty tremendous stories with some pretty tremendous media outlets. So grateful to have joined them on their journeys.

 

Ali Lincoln

I’m grateful that TVP Comms took a chance and hired me. I’ve learned so much already because I have awesome co-workers who not only have mastery in the industry, but who also encourage me and answer my millions of questions without tire. And I’m very thankful that I get to wear sweatpants every day.

 

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Kyle Gunnels

I love having coworkers who I enjoy working with and make getting things done fun.

 

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Erin Hennessy

I’m grateful for on-time flights with empty middle seats, hotel beds with lots of pillows and rental cars with Bluetooth. I’m grateful for awesome local restaurants, plentiful coffee, and somewhere to charge my devices. And when none of those things pan out, I’m grateful that I’ve got five magnificent colleagues to share stories and laughs with as we do this awesome work together.

 

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Teresa Valerio Parrot

I could not be more thankful for the privilege to work for and with the most amazing people in our industry. I’ve been lucky enough to hand-pick the team at TVP Communications, and I am so proud of the great work we do on behalf of our clients. And I am thankful that institutions and organizations trust us with one of their most precious assets—their reputations. We take our responsibilities very seriously and are proud of how we advance their images and credibility.

 

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Leave your gratitude responses below or tweet them to @TVPComms.

 

Read our other gratitude posts:

Monday – Thanking Educators

Tuesday – To Our Alma Maters, With Love

Wednesday – Industry Gratitude

Thursday  Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at TVP Communications.

 

Brian Wachur

I am thankful for my wonderful family, particularly my beautiful wife, Tyler. This year has been full of exciting changes and I am thankful to be going through it all with her.

 

Teresa Valerio Parrot

 I don’t say it often enough, but I am thankful for the support Kevin and Savannah Parrot provide. I couldn’t do what I do if Kevin didn’t have the home front so well covered and I love SLP to pieces. I’m also thankful for Ben & Jerry’s, I’m grateful I don’t mind the taste of kale and brussels sprouts, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the fact that it is becoming more and more acceptable to wear exercise gear in public as if it were real clothes (yay elastic fabrics!). Also, I’m so thankful that you can buy pine nuts in bulk at Costco.

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Kyle Gunnels

I’m thankful for my friends, my family and the amazing opportunities I’ve had thus far in my life.

 

Erin Hennessy

I am thankful that my family is happy, healthy and, by the time you read this, gathered together in New Jersey. I’m looking forward to lots of turkey, some downtime with a stack of library books, and hours of indulging my nephew in, well, pretty much anything he wants.

 

Ali Lincoln

First of all, I’m thankful that we have a holiday that celebrates thankfulness with gluttonous amounts of food! I’m so thankful for my family and friends. I am grateful for a husband (and cat) who loves me and supports me no matter what. I’m very glad that there are always more books to read, that the brunch industry is booming, that national parks exist, and that joy comes from little things like the smell of the ocean, flowers in bloom, beautiful stationery, or a garden-fresh tomato.

 

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What are you thankful for today? Leave your responses below or tweet them to @TVPComms

 

Read our other gratitude posts:

Monday – Thanking Educators

Tuesday – To Our Alma Maters, With Love

Wednesday – Industry Gratitude

Industry Gratitude

Today the team is thankful for the important conversations that are happening in higher education around things like substance abuse, sexual assault, and college costs.

 

Kristine Maloney

Like so many other parents, I’m concerned about many of the issues facing higher education today. While I’m fortunate enough to work in the industry and am convinced most of higher education’s problems aren’t as dire as many believe, I still worry about how high costs and the prevalence of alcohol, drugs, hazing and sexual assaults on college campuses might impact my own children. I’m thankful for the attention to these issues and the good work many institutions are undertaking to address them and hope we’re in a much different place when my two and four year olds leave the nest.

 

Teresa Valerio Parrot

I’m grateful the industry is having some honest conversations around retaining at risk students, addressing sexual assault on campus and curbing binge drinking on campus. And I’m so proud of the work the TVP Comms team has done to share the tough work our clients have done to share solutions on these topics. For example, NASPA and Campus Labs should be everyone’s first stops when researching retention solutions; the University of Montana has done some excellent work to address sexual assault on campus and I am so proud of the work Dr. G at Frostburg State is doing to bring light to excessive drinking among college students.

 

Kyle Gunnels

I’m thankful that people, for the most part, have stopped talking about how MOOCs are going to “revolutionize” the world…

 

Ali Lincoln

I’m thankful that first-generation and low-income students continue to remain top of mind in industry conversation. Whether it’s access, quality, affordability, or degree completion, I’m grateful that higher ed continues to discuss and address the inequalities and inequities that exist within education.

 

Let us know what industry conversations you’re thankful for by leaving a comment below or tweeting your gratitude to @TVPComms.

 

Read our other gratitude posts:

 

Monday – Thanking Educators

Tuesday – To Our Alma Maters, With Love