Rising Boats: Colleague Education
Every month, we offer “brown bag” presentations to our fellow campus communicators. These staff and administrators are responsible for some kind of communications role, whether for their program, department, or entire college or division. The skills and backgrounds vary widely, leading naturally to divergent implementations and end products.
As we begin to create more centralized and strategic messages, branding, and other tools, the University will only succeed through the cooperation of and adoption by campus communicators. While I’m sure it’s possible to “force” such things upon staff, that’s hardly the best way to get them built into our everyday culture. After all, brand isn’t something in a standards book, it’s reflected in how you live.
So as a small contribution to building trust, facilitating communication, and enabling better work, we put energy into professional development. Not just for our own staff, but for our colleagues. Sometimes it’s our brown bag series, where our people are teaching others about something. Other times we pay for webinars and host them for campus. Twice a year we hold a Communicators’ Summit as a half-day conference with outside speakers or key internal initiatives. We have blogs and a LinkedIn community.
We’ve done this for a few years now, and without fail each event generates new relationships, new ideas, and new opportunities. The result is a community of communicators, working toward similar goals and within similar constraints. And our communications offices are at the heart of it all. So when we get to rolling out standards or positioning messages, hopefully we’ll be better situated to succeed. And even without that motive, our colleagues will be better equipped to succeed in any of their communications goals.