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PRSA 2019 Counselors to Higher Education West Coast Forum

Aug. 5–6 | Denver, Colo.

The 2019 Counselors to Higher Education Forum Program

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Monday, August 5

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Session 1:

Telling Stories Through Sound Panel

Institutional stories can often be adapted and told through a number of different channels and media. But what makes a compelling audio story? Learn to look for the elements of sound that can elevate a story beyond the typical written format and resonate with key audiences in a new way.

Jeffrey Pierre,
assistant editor, NPR Ed
Kevin Myers, director of communications, Reed College
Jeff Canning,
account director, RW Jones Agency 

12:30 p.m.–2 p.m

Session 2:

Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Rebecca Chopp: A Conversation About Communications

Rebecca Chopp, chancellor emerita of the University of Denver, reflects on the necessity of building 21st-century academic communities based on intentional and purposeful values that foster relationships and a sense of belonging for students, staff, faculty, alumni and the world. The important leadership and mentorship role that communicators can and must play will be illuminated and emphasized.

Speaker: Rebecca Chopp, chancellor emerita, University of Denver

2:10-3:10 p.m.

Session 3:

How Data Drives Content

When it comes to marketing, no one asks why data is necessary, but what about using the data to inform your content and communications decisions? Hear from a panel of data analysts on how to identify KPIs, use those metrics to create your editorial plans for everything from your website to your magazine and educate stakeholders and leaders from the bottom up.

Shay Galto, market research consultant, Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Natalie Plaszewski, manager, marketing analytics, University of Denver
Meg Weber, executive director, annual giving, Colorado State University

3:20–4:20 p.m.

Session 4:

Crisis vs. Issues Management

Universities across the country are striving to be prepared for any crisis, whether it be a weather-related event, an extended power outage, a flu outbreak or, God forbid, a mass casualty event on campus. Hear from three communications experts who will discuss how they handled the media following a mass shooting on campus, the death of a student who was murdered after getting into a car with a driver who she thought was from a ride-hailing service, and the discovery of leaked documents from two fraternity chapters that contained allegations of a “rape attic,” as well as homophobic, racist and misogynistic language.

Alisa Giardinelli, interim vice president, communications, Swarthmore College
Jeff Stensland, director of public relations, University of South Carolina
Vanessa Becker, former board chair, Umpqua Community College

4:30–5:20 p.m.

Session 5:

Preparing Your Faculty for Public Impact 

Faculty are prepared to share their research and scholarship with their peers and in trade journals, however, what happens when they are forced to translate their research for the media, policy makers and the general public? Hear how the University of Denver's media relations team partnered with the Provost's Office to train and prepare faculty to work with all audiences and become Public Impact Fellows.

Madeline Phipps,
senior media relations specialist, University of Denver
Jon Stone,
media relations manager, University of Denver

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Hosted Networking Cocktail Reception

Tap Fourteen
1920 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80202

Tuesday, August 6

7:30–8:30 a.m.Continental Breakfast
8:30 –9:45 a.m.

Session 6: 

Communicators in a Cart — Creating Media Channels to Foster Engagement

Texas Tech University’s office of communications and marketing was looking for a way to increase community engagement, tell campus stories, foster alumni relationships and bolster the office’s presence on campus — a tall order. Enter Communicators in a Cart. The web video series was developed as a dedicated channel, hosted by the office’s Executive Director Chris Cook, as a tool to tell campus stories and give a vehicle for engaging with key audiences that needed stronger relationships. The case study will focus on how the program grew, the genesis of the idea and the outcomes

Speaker: Chris Cook, managing director, office of communications and marketing, Texas Tech University

10–11:15 a.m.

Session 7: 

Come Together, Right Now: Keeping in Touch Across Campus With a Communications Council 

Has your campus ended up with more than one department crafting a press release, or with ads for multiple programs in one publication? The increasing segmentation across campuses can often leave communicators out of the loop on what other departments are doing. Join panelists from schools of all sizes as they discuss their best practices for forming communications councils that keep everyone on campus in the loop.

Kyle Henley, vice president, university communications, University of Oregon
Jon Leslie, associate vice chancellor for marketing and content strategy, University of Colorado Boulder
Stephanie Wurtz, assistant vice president of communications, Colorado College

11:30–1 p.m.

Session 8:

Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Jonathan Riskind

The Higher Education Public Policy Landscape: What’s Happening in D.C. and What Will Be the Impact on Your Campus?

Immigration, Dreamers and international students. Federal financial aid and research funding and issues around free speech on campus. Tax policies that affect individual students and regulatory initiatives like Title IX sexual assault that impact students and institutions alike. The continuing effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Jonathan Riskind, assistant vice president of Public Affairs for the American Council on Education, will take a look at where higher education stands from a federal public policy perspective and how what’s taking place — or isn’t — will play out on campuses nationwide.

Jonathan Riskind, assistant vice president of public affairs, American Council on Education

1:15-2:15 p.m.

Session 9:

Keynote Speaker: Ross Aikins

Perennial PR Perils of College Student Health

What is it about the college environment that always seems to promote peril, misbehavior, and vice?  The state of college students’ mental health has been described as an ongoing “crisis” replete with depression, anxiety, alcohol and other drug use, and sexual assault, among other grave concerns both to campus communities and the public. While this is enough to keep most campus communications professionals up at night, it’s easy to overlook the important work that institutions do to promote student health and wellness. Ross Aikins, adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss the concurrent landscape of student health and preview the best of the worst to come.

Ross Aikins, adjunct assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania

Note: Schedule order and/or speakers and topics are subject to change.

The PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Section thanks its sponsors for this event.