Culture clash: corporate vs. academic PR

PR consultant Dick Jones discusses several of the differences between corporate and academic public relations in this article in the latest PIOnet newsletter. While more college and university campuses look outside the world of academe for PR expertise, those from the corporate side who make the shift to academic PR sometimes struggle with the culture shock.

As Jones explains:

Some fail to appreciate the difference in governance. In the corporate world, the hierarchies typically are simpler. The PR director may take marching orders only from his boss (the vice president) and her boss (the president). And there may be only one message: that Company Name is the undisputed leader in (fill in applicable adjective) technology.

A college or university, however, is more like a feudal kingdom. The president is still the PR director’s chief “client,” but other, additional constituents have real, and sometimes conflicting, PR needs. Continuing Education’s messages and needs differ from those of the College of Liberal Arts, for example.

Jones makes some terrific points in this article. It’s worth a read.


Maybe the world is not so flat, after all

In his best-selling book The World Is Flat, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has made considerable hay touting the idea that the United States is losing its competitive advantage in technological fields to India, China and other behemoths that are graduating manifold more engineers than the U.S. But a new study says that ain’t necessarily so.

This Christian Science Monitor story points to a Duke University study which claims: “Inconsistent reporting of problematic engineering graduation data has been used to fuel fears that America is losing its technological edge. A comparison of like-to-like data suggests that the US produces a highly significant number of engineers, computer scientists, and information technology specialists, and remains competitive in global markets.”



Last year, the US awarded bachelor’s degrees to 72,893 engineering students, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. But using India’s more inclusive definition, the Duke study finds the US handed out 137,437 bachelor’s degrees last year, more than India’s 112,000. The US number is far more impressive in rela-tive terms, since India has more than three times as many people.

China’s numbers are more problematic because its government does not break them down. In its revised figures, the National Academies reduced the Chinese total from 600,000 to 500,000. The Duke study pegs the total at 644,106, as reported by the Chinese Ministry of Education. But the study also points out that, as with India, the Chinese total includes engineering graduates with so-called “short cycle degrees” that represent three years or less of college training.


Or the CBS Colbert Report, perhaps

What does the future hold for CBS Evening News? For that matter, what’s the future have in store for any network newscast? As David A. Andelman of notes, the typical viewer of CBS Evening News is “somewhere north of 50 years old (probably considerably north) and has been watching it since Walter Cronkite (remember him, kids? Probably not) was in the anchor chair.”

That’s not the demographic most TV networks are looking for. As Andelman speculates in his recent column, “The CBS Daily Show With Jon Stewart”, things might look much different in the near future.


[T]oday’s pared-to-the-bones CBS could save quite a lot more money by going The Daily Show route. First, comedy writers earn a lot less than senior producers or correspondents on a network evening news show. You might want to hold on to a few such correspondents and producers just in case the pope dies or the president gets shot or there’s some other history-altering moment and you want do something more elaborate than simply poke fun at it, as Jon Stewart does so effectively on Comedy Central. Still, you don’t need to have a whole regiment of correspondents, producers and camera crews suited up and ready to go 24/7.

Moreover, The Daily Show even has the beauty of being owned by Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, which owns CBS.

Finally, you don’t need to jump through hoops to find creative means to keep this whole infrastructure humming along profitably. That’s because there won’t be any such infrastructure.

Turn The Morning Show over to the entertainment division, which does cooking shows and movie promos better anyway. Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes and Face the Nation can continue to totter along on their own without a whole bureau system and news infrastructure. I mean, they’re not even located in the main Broadcast Center on West 57th Street, though without that huge news operation to house, they might be able to move back into the home of the mother ship and save CBS a bundle on off-site rental costs.


news, media, CBS

Light blogging lately…but for good reason

You may have noticed a slight drop in the quantity of blog postings around here lately. That’s due to a number of factors — my general laziness being the predominant one. But in my defense, I’m also on a deadline crunch. I’m writing an article about the future of the news media for Currents magazine, published by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and I’ve been up to my ears researching what the experts and futurists have to say and conducting a couple of interviews.

I’ve found some interesting stuff online about the future of the news media, especially as it pertains to the concept of citizen journalism. Here are a few I found especially helpful.

  • Future of PR. This is a wiki for discussions about, well, the future of PR, among those in colleges and universities interested in the subject. It’s facilitated by Dan Forbush of ProfNet/PRNewswire. Dan and others in the wiki have assembled a host of good information about where things are headed in PR, marketing and media.
  • The American Press Institute Media Center‘s Digital Think site. This is the digital storytelling link I pointed to last Friday. Lots of good stuff there; much to assimilate.
  • We Media — the website for last October’s We Media conference, put on by the API Media Center. This is a good site about citizen (or participatory, or peer-to-peer, or grassroots, or open-source) journalism, and it links to a good 66-page primer (PDF) on the topic. The book is now two years old and slightly dated, but it is well researched and fairly well written. The authors wax a bit pedantic in a couple of the chapters, but overall it’s a good start for anyone interested in grassroots journalism.
  •, creators of the annual State of the News Media report.
  • EPIC 2015 — a dystopic vision of the future mediascape, and the eeriest Flash movie I’ve seen in some time. Definitely worth the eight minutes if you’ve got the time to spare. The first couple of minutes rehashes the past decade, but after that, this vision of the future is very 1984-esque. I’m interviewing one of the creators this afternoon.

    There’s much more, but those are the highlights.

    Now all I’ve got to do is pull all this research together in 1,500 words. Piece of cake. But the blogging will probably have to be put on hold while I mix the cake ingredients.

  • blogging, citizen journalism, Internet, news

    Yours, Mine, and Ours

    Something that should be required reading for everyone involved in marketing higher education: Yours, Mine, and Ours: How Simplicity and Transparency Are Building the Web 2.0 is a white paper prepared for Dartmouth ‘s web publishing services by Chris Boone of Hypsometry. This paper provides an excellent overview of the interconnectedness of the web and how it challenges our standard modes of operation. We can’t control this medium. At best, we can manage parts of it and influence other parts.

    Link via the Future of PR wiki.

    Blogs, branding, Computers and Internet, higher education, Internet, Marketing, Media, public relations, PR

    The new Carnegie classifications: peer-to-peer assessments?

    The Carnegie Foundation unveiled its new classification system on Thursday, Nov. 17. To anyone outside of higher education, this doesn’t mean anything. To those of us who make our living marketing colleges and universities, however, the new system matters. It could dramatically affect how we are viewed — and reviewed — by our peers, prospective students and those ever-important publications that rank our colleges and universities.

    As Inside Higher Ed newsletter reports, the new classifications, “if used properly … might just help colleges identify true peers and look for weaknesses that need fixing.” That would be great. If the classifications are used properly. But many of us in higher ed are probably more interested in hearing how U.S. News and World Report plans to use the new Carnegie Classifications to assemble their categories for rankings. In the past, U.S. News used the old system to come up with such rankings as “national universities” (doctoral-granting) and the various specialty schools. But these new classifications are more complex. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they’re complex enough to render some of U.S. News‘ approaches to rankings meaningless. (I can dream, anyway.)

    “While colleges will no doubt continue to boast about their rankings in various places, [Carnegie Foundation President Lee S.] Shulman and other Carnegie officials said their hope was that the range of comparisons would encourage colleges to find true peer institutions and then learn from them. And a college might find that it has one set of peers in undergraduate curriculum and another for transfer rates.”

    No doubt college presidents and deans nationwide are putting the Carnegie Foundation’s website through the wringer today. The site is crashing as we blog.

    education, higher education, Carnegie

    10 new brand rules — and what they mean for higher ed

    Simon Williams of the Sterling Group has come up with a list of 10 new rules of branding. You should read the entire article. But just in case you’re in too big a hurry, here’s Williams’ top 10 list — with a bit of commentary from me about how these rules might pertain to marketing and branding in higher education.

    1) Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth. Colleges and universities influence culture — from sports and entertainment to the element of prestige that comes from holding a degree from a particular institution. The more prestigious and influential a college or university, the more it influences the culture, and the better its chances of “selling” to prospective students, alumni, research partners, etc.

    2) A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out. This is a big problem for many colleges and universities. We all talk about our “tradition of academic excellence,” “caring faculty” and so on. It means nothing. Let’s put some attitude in our marketing copy.

    3) Today’s consumer is leading from the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet. Prospective students and their families aren’t just relying on the college viewbook for their information. They’re finding third-party views online, via the college rankings guides, and elsewhere. They’re more savvy than we give them credit for, and they have a very sensitive BS detector.

    4) Customize wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow’s killer whale. Customized degrees, perhaps? No more one-size-fits-all academic programs? Why not have students customize their classes — complete them at their own pace?

    5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way. The college experience is one of the stronger benefits of the college brand — assuming the experience is good, that is. Colleges and universities are as much about the experience as about the education.

    6) Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation. With so many colleges and universities these days, we must become obsessive about why we are the preferred choice.

    7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where you’re vulnerable? Ouch. Lots of weak links in higher ed — too many to list here.

    8) Social responsibility is no longer an option; what’s your cause, what’s your contribution? This is a tremendous opportunity for higher education, one of the greatest causes of all.

    9) Pulse, pace, and passion really make a difference; had your heartbeat checked recently? The pace of change in higher ed is glacial. Face it: most colleges and universities are based on a model from the medieval days. Can our old institutions keep pace?

    10) Innovation is the new boardroom favorite. Higher ed should innovate with new curricula, new degree programs, new methods of delivering education.

    Link via brandXpress

    branding, Marketing