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Image Management

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Got Issues?
CURRENTS Article Fasten your seatbelts, communicators. It's going to be another bumpy year (or five or 10). Student activism, campus protests, racist incidents, sexual assault, student misconduct, free speech, academic freedom, and data breaches are just a few of the issues that have made the past few years on college campuses challenging and sometimes exhausting. Add heightened tensions fueled by political polarization, stir in a campus population dominated by students accustomed to sharing their thoughts and experiences on social media, and it becomes clear why issues management is an increasingly critical role at higher education institutions.

No Lemons Here
CURRENTS Article Change happens. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Change can be threatening. An institutional merger or updated mascot, for example, can spark fears that alumni memories and traditions aren't treasured. In a job where keeping alumni happily engaged is key, how do you navigate the negative stuff? We aren't talking about crises—bad news takes everyone by surprise. But if you know your alumni, you can predict when a big change for the institution is going to be a problem for some graduates. Before you start bracing yourself for hate mail, take a deep breath. With a proactive outreach plan, you can take part of the sting out of the unwelcome and maybe even turn the news into a positive for your alumni.

A Changing Climate
CURRENTS Article Two dozen institutions in the U.S. and abroad have committed to divest from fossil fuels, and the numbers are likely to grow as the activism spreads. Still, many advancement offices are concerned that what is good for the planet may not be so great for their institution's endowment.

Outlook: What Would Yelp Reviews Reveal About Your Institution?
CURRENTS Article Successful entrepreneurs know that to increase profits you need to attract and retain customers. To appeal to and keep students, colleges and universities can no longer rest on their academic reputations and act as if they are doing students a favor by providing a rigorous education

President’s Perspective: Campaign Dissonance
CURRENTS Article When we as advancement officers are accused of being indifferent to public concerns about college costs and our financial stewardship, it is wise to listen and adjust our communications to reflect those concerns.

Facing History
CURRENTS Article This article looks at how institutions such as Emory University, the University of Mississippi, Brown University, and others have addressed and acknowledged the negative aspects of their institutional histories and historical missteps.

Communicating Up
CURRENTS Article This article examines the benefits to the institution, the board, and the communications operation when the chief communicator has a relationship with the institution's governing board, whether direct or indirect.

Outlook: The Front Line of Engagement
CURRENTS Article Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, argues that advancement professionals play a critical role in articulating the unique identity, mission, values, and goals of their respective institutions. Rather than trying to imitate what are considered to be elite universities, such as Harvard and Berkeley, he argues that higher ed institutions must differentiate themselves from their peers and embrace their own unique identities.

Upending a Negative
CURRENTS Article Brock University in Canada got creative with a student recruitment video that confronts head-on a longstanding saying about the institution and realized benefits in terms of goodwill and increased applications.

Sour Notes
CURRENTS Article At some institutions, time-honored fight songs have devolved into fighting words, and alma maters have become lightning rods for controversy. Alumni relations and public relations directors are then called on to find a peaceful solution.

Talking Points: Speaking to Values
CURRENTS Article Independent schools are wise to publicize new programs that might philanthropically engage their constituents.

Advance Work: Truth and Dare
CURRENTS Article Skidmore College's president recently held town hall meetings in which he asked parents, alumni, and prospective students whether the college was worth the money. In reaction to the responses, the college is creating new learning goals.

Plugging In
CURRENTS Article Good public relations starts with the face of your institution, but what if your institution's leader needs a face-lift?

Rebirth and Renewal
CURRENTS Article How Adelphi University has revived its reputation

Closing Remarks: Mind Your Ps and Rs
CURRENTS Article A recent study offers a new perspective on institutions' pursuit of prestige and reputation

Quest for Clarity
CURRENTS Article Bad news travels fast. Getting ahead of it requires a quick, coordinated, and calculated effort. Advancement professionals whose institutions have survived campus crises and emerged with reputations for accountability intact (if somewhat tattered) share what they have learned the hard way. The sidebar, "Crisis of Faith," goes with this article.

A Delicate Balance: Athletics and Campus Identity
CURRENTS Article Intercollegiate athletics presents both opportunities and pitfalls for college and university communicators. Recent controversies are forcing communicators and administrators to take a close look at the complexities and the impact of athletics on their campuses to determine the best way to manage institution messages.

AdvanceWork: I Heard It Through the Grapevine
CURRENTS Article Campus urban legends present a special PR challenge, especially when these stories contain a kernel of truth. This item debunks the “swim-test legend” at Swarthmore College and the question of whether Harvard University refused admission to Leland Stanford. This Advancework item is of interest to public relations officers.

Fair Share
CURRENTS Article Campus communicators can find themselves enmeshed in community debates about the effect of their institution on local resources and quality of life. Problems are more readily resolvable when an institution builds and maintains strong community relationships, takes local concerns seriously, communicates freely, and tends to internal as well as external constituencies.

Gaining a Reputation
CURRENTS Article An image audit, also known as a reputation audit, helps communications and marketing officers understand how their campuses are perceived by key constituencies. This process can serve as the first step in developing a comprehensive communications and marketing plan. Jarrell provides advice on focusing an audit, conducting an audit with and without consultants, building on-campus support for the effort, and acting on the audit’s recommendations.

A Case of Mistaken Identity
CURRENTS Article Colleges and universities may have trouble differentiating themselves from unrelated institutions with similar names. This article describes the effects of name confusion on such institutions as Seton Hill College, Miami University, Trinity College, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Public relations officers at these institutions describe strategies they use to establish their identity with journalists and members of the public.

AdvanceWork: Fruitful Marketing
CURRENTS Article Last year, Silicon Valley community-college administrators became concerned that the region's four-year institutions were attracting potential community-college students by incorrectly implying that community-college courses take longer to complete and are less relevant to the job market. Administrators needed to get the word out fast that their campuses offer convenient, online, weekend, and evening classes and cutting-edge programs for Internet-related careers. This article describes a collaborative public-service campaign to solve the communication problem.

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