Cross-departmental Collaboration in Higher Ed

You’re the center of communication for your institution. The University employs you to create connections with the academic community and all of its stakeholders, and you’re successful in doing so. You have a communications strategy in place, you engage the community, and you present a consistent message at all points of contact. You rock!

So, why is it so damn hard to communicate with departments within your institution?

We understand that it can be hard to communicate with other departments. For this reason, we’re revamping our readMedia guide, and the new resource/help center will have a section dedicated to outreach and onboarding departments. In the meantime, I will give you what we have, some best practices to help you create relationships between departments, so you can get the information you need to crank out institution branded content.

  • Create an Achievement Calendar. Once you’ve done this, you can identify the departments you need to contact to get the student information for a particular story or achievement. We just published an article that talks about creating an Achievement Calendar.
  • Once you have identified the achievements you’ll be sending and the departments you need to reach out to, you can do to things. 1) Create an email to let other offices and departments know what readMedia is, how you plan to use it, and what you need from them and why. 2) Create a mini presentation and get members of a single office or department together to meet and discuss why publishing student achievements is beneficial to their departments and supports the institutions strategic plan and mission.
  • Provide each department with a spreadsheet that includes the column headings necessary to create and post their students’ stories. Here is an example of what to ask departments to include in your spreadsheet.

We understand that departments do not always have easy access to student information; here are some suggestions:

  • You can always ask for a master list of all students from your institution’s registrar office. A master list will allow you to create smaller spreadsheets for activities and achievements outside of graduation and dean’s list.
  • Finally, seek out your “student database guru,” they can create a readMedia query (directory information on), enabling you to pull student information as needed. An example of when this would come in handy, when your study abroad coordinator sends you a spreadsheet half populated, you can refer to the master list to fill in the blanks.

If the suggestions outlined above still don’t produce fruit, call us, we’ll help you create a strategy and assist you in reaching these departments.


Invest in an Achievement Calendar

We are seeing a trend among readMedia users, they’re starting to align their achievements and badges with their institution’s core values. After getting their readMedia account set up, they sit down and brainstorm what stories and achievements they would like to publish first, and then they create a calendar for the year.

For example, Lebanon Valley College places an emphasis on leadership and unique programs. They created an Achievement Calendar and set of branded badges around the activities that posture their students as leaders and role models.

Emporia State University does an amazing job highlighting experiential programs including study abroad, community service, and visual arts. Emporia has found a way to use their campus activities to connect with students and newspapers, and the response has been overwhelming. Emporia has a strategy worth modeling, read their story and download their Achievement Calendar.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls focuses on outstanding teaching and unmatched opportunities for students. Their badges include overseas student teaching, chancellor’s awards, athletics, and their study abroad program. Creating a calendar around these achievements gives them a timeline for reaching out to departments to obtain this student information.

Need additional inspiration? Check out the ultimate Achievement Calendar in our online guide. If you would like a free Achievement Calendar training/consultation, let us know, we’ll set one up – just for you.

Aligning your communications goals and messaging across all public-facing channels is a strategic win for your entire institution, take the time to invest in creating your calendar, then reach out to other campus departments to solicit updates, stories, and spreadsheets.


Philip Pascuzzo: The Face Behind the readabout.me Badges

readMedia had the opportunity to sit down and chat with designer and illustrator, Philip Pascuzzo about his inspiration behind the readabout.me badge designs. Philip is the designer of the original Twitter bird logo and has created more than 300 book covers.

What were some of  your inspirations for the readabout.me badge design
project?
I wanted the badges to be immediately readable and iconic. My research lead me to Otl Aicher’s smart and elegant pictograms for the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The simplicity of these are very attractive and stand out among other Olympic pictogram designs. I was inspired by the colorful work of Lance Wyman’s pictograms for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. So the problem was making the read about.me badges colorful, fun and still very simple.

What is your favorite readabout.me badge and why?
The visual and performance arts badge has a sort of mid-century charm that I love. It was difficult at first to solve the problem of visually representing both of these activities on one badge. I’m glad I thought of an eye icon because it says a lot without being complicated at all. Adding human elements, emotion, and a sense of humor to these badges is what makes them work.

What was the most challenging badge topic to come up with a design for?
I think that the “Who’s Who” badge was the most challenging for me. I
presented some options that included a question mark at first. That approach
wasn’t working making it even more difficult. The final design is the
cleanest one out of the batch and I feel works great. Often the simplest
solution is the best, you just may need to get complicated before finding
it.

How do you think you would react If you were still a student and your
school published one of your achievements online using a readabout.me badge,
considering your perspective as an artist/designer?
I would love it! I could probably convince my mom to buy me skateboard
equipment for every badge I receive. This almost game-like incentive is very
attractive and fun. Seeing the badges together is like a pretty mosaic of
your achievements. This sure beats the black and white piece of paper stuck
to the fridge with a magnet.

In your opinion, do you think there will be more of a demand for badges
in the graphic design world?
I really do since users love customizing and interacting with the internet
now more and more. People have always collected rewards for their
achievements. So a badge with a strong design should be a great little
motivational incentive.


Juice Facebook engagement with branded achievement badges

readMedia customers who’ve watched our platform evolve over the last 18 months know that publicizing student achievements in social media is an authentic, powerful way to reach audiences online with positive brand messaging. Turning students (and parents!) into advocates by getting them to share stories of their own accomplishments at an institution is an engaging content strategy that gets results. These personalized stories, and the visual badges that accompany them, are a way to create “micro-virality” about the success of your students and expose all of their connections to the great opportunities available at your institution.

We love the standard set of readabout.me badges that accompany student achievement stories. Designed by Pepco Studios’ Phil Pascuzzo, designer of the original Twitter bird logo, these badges are colorful, engaging and look great in the Facebook newsfeed (plus they generate a ton of likes and comments — four times the average!). But, we also know that many institutions have worked hard to develop strict visual identity systems that incorporate elements of their brand — school colors, mascots, taglines. As a result, we’ve rolled out a new product: readMedia clients now have the opportunity to brand the achievement badges, and even design completely custom badges!

Dozens of our current clients — like Clemson University, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Marist College, Clarkson University, Union College in Kentucky, and Hudson Valley Community College — have all upgraded their readMedia subscriptions to include custom branding on readabout.me. By adding their institution’s name and colors to the existing readabout.me badges, or by having their internal graphics team design custom badges, these institutions and many more are ensuring that when students and parents share achievements online, the badges and the achievement are instantly recognizable and affiliated with the college.

In addition to badges that more closely match an institution’s visual identity, branding packages on readabout.me also include a landing page that aggregates and highlights achievements from that institution’s students. Colleges can design this landing page and link to its other social media properties and its web site.

When students don a college sweatshirt or affix a university window sticker to the back of their car, they’re showcasing their pride and affiliation with an institution. Customized branding on readabout.me allows institutions to ensure that type of affiliation is happening online, too. When a Clemson student shares an achievement that proudly bears a purple-and-orange Clemson badge, complete with the tiger paw, all of his or her Facebook friends connect that student and his or her achievement — be it making the president’s list, studying abroad, or earning a scholarship — with the institution where it occurred. And since the average achievement shared to Facebook generates 7 click-throughs back to the original story on readabout.me, colleges have an even stronger opportunity to drive prospects to their other social properties and web site via the readabout.me story.

If you’re interested in learning about how to add branding and custom badges to your institution’s readabout.me presence, you can contact us at schools@readmedia.com.


Unlock the Power of readabout.me

Every story you send out on the readMedia platform automatically creates a personalized achievement online for your students – this achievement is created from the single format template you create in your account. The personalized achievements live on readabout.me [see example]. At readabout.me students can share their achievements on Facebook and Twitter [see example]. Students can even claim their achievement and attach a photo [see example].

                          
The students’ individual achievements are then rolled up into a professional, powerful online profile on readabout.me that shows the great things their involved in on campus. Each time you send out an achievement for a particular student, it will automatically attach to their readabout.me profile [See example].

All achievements on readabout.me are awarded a unique “badge of approval” by readMedia to show that they’ve been verified by your institution. The badges are a visual representation of the achievement.

Students can’t find their achievements online if you don’t notify them!

Student emails: the most important piece of the puzzle
To notify students that you’re acknowledging their achievement, you must include their email addresses in the spreadsheet you upload to the readMedia platform. Your students will automatically receive an email  that directs them to their achievement on readabout.me.

The notification comes from your email address and it contains a list of the newspapers the achievement was sent to [see example]. You can even notify mom and dad by simply putting each email address in a separate column.

All you have to do is press send and readMedia takes care of the rest!

Why is readabout.me important for my college or university?

readabout.me is a powerful strategic marketing tool for your institution and your brand. It unites social media, earned media and reputation management to create meaningful results in brand awareness, engagement and key institutional outcomes.

See how colleges and universities are promoting readabout.me on campus.

Why is readabout.me important for students?

readabout.me creates a positive online identity for students. It helps people who make decisions about internships, grad school, and jobs find the “good stuff” about them.

Your readMedia subscription is not just a media relations tool. Contact us to learn how other colleges and universities are positioning readMedia and readabout.me in their overall communication plan and how your subscription supports marketing and branding objectives, enrollment, and student outcomes.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.