The Office of Marketing & Communications actively supports the College’s efforts to recruit qualified students and to attract financial support for academic programs and financial aid, while meeting Rollins’ other communications needs. The Office of Marketing & Communications works to protect and enhance the image of Rollins College through strategic communications with the College’s stakeholders: potential students and donors, current students and donors, faculty and staff, alumni, trustees, community and business leaders, and the media. Eight areas encompass the services offered by the department: public relations planning and counseling, issues and crisis management, internal and external communications, community relations, news media relations, digital communications and social media initiatives, publications services and public inquiries.
Structured like a mini-agency, the Office provides public relations counseling and services to more than 20 internal client bases including the administration, the Board of Trustees, Institutional Advancement, the Office of Admission, the Crummer Graduate School of Business and its centers, the Hamilton Holt School evening studies program, Human Resources, the Annie Russell Theatre, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Winter Park Institute, Athletics, Information Technology, Community Engagement, Student Affairs, Faculty, student media and more. The Office develops comprehensive public relations campaigns or targeted communication plans for everything from special events to launching new academic programs. Strategic plans provide a situation analysis, define goals and objectives, identify target audiences, outline key messages, timelines, tools and tactics, and much more. These plans are based on measurable results and are an invaluable tool.
Effective issues management anticipates and plans ahead for problems, crises or trends that may negatively impact an organization. Identifying, monitoring and managing issues is key to enhancing or, when necessary, protecting our institution’s reputation and image. This is as important, if not even more important, to achieving sound and productive relations between Rollins and its stakeholders as maximizing publicity opportunities. The Office tracks and manages issues to avoid—or at least minimize—negative impact. Much goes on “behind the scenes,” and sometimes what doesn’t appear in the news media takes longer to achieve than what does appear. The Office also manages crisis communications ranging from weather emergencies to world events that may impact the College. On a tragic day like September 11, the Office facilitated dozens of media requests for experts on terrorism, airport security, the economic impact and more in the weeks following the attack. In the summer of 2004, Central Florida was faced with three consecutive hurricanes, Charley, Frances and Jeanne, which required extensive internal and external communications efforts. The Office’s award-winning emergency communication plan is updated annually and may be implemented in part or in its entirety as needed.
The Office of Marketing & Communications is the primary news and information office for the College. News and information for students, faculty and staff is now provided on the new College intranet site, R-Net, which is managed by the Office. Other communications are issued as needed. To achieve enhanced customer service and more strategic use of the intranet, students and employees are surveyed and adjustments are made as necessary. The Office also prepares and distributes R-News, an e-newsletter to business and community leaders several times a year. Most of the content for all e-newsletters for parents of Arts & Sciences students as well as alumni come from stories identified, researched and written by the Office. The Office co-manages the Communication & Marketing Council. The Council includes representation from 18 different departments from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Hamilton Holt School evening studies program, and the Crummer Graduate School of Business with a goal toward consistent messaging and branding.
Rollins is committed to contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of our community. From board presence to community outreach, the Office assesses and identifies opportunities to enhance Rollins’ visibility in the local community. The Office has developed and will manage the strategic community outreach plan for the College that has a focused approach aligned with our core business of education. Newly-launched Community Campus Tours enhance relationships and teach community leaders more about our academic home.
Good news doesn’t just happen; it requires planning, research and hard work. Working from a public relations planning calendar and strategic publicity plan, the Office proactively pitches stories and interesting photo opportunities to the media on campus events, and student or faculty achievements, interesting research, and offers subject experts to the media on timely topics (e.g., September 11 or Virginia Tech). News releases may range from announcing new management level positions, new programs, innovative research, academic achievement and rankings, campus events, Fox Day, visiting artists and scholars, commemorations or dedications, and more. The Office works directly with local, regional and national media representatives, monitors services such as ProfNet (an electronic service that distributes journalists’ queries for subject experts to members), and collaborates with higher education associations to achieve placements. These efforts have resulted in outstanding visibility via countless placements in key local and regional outlets and in such notable national publications as the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Chronicle of Higher Education and more.
Historically, we’ve leaned on publicity to tell our story, but the shrinking of traditional media and the proliferation of new media has impacted us in many ways. There are endless creative ways to obtain favorable media coverage—from both traditional media and bloggers. The Office also provides media training to prepare our subject experts for radio, television and print interviews.
There is no typical day in the Office of Marketing & Communications. During an average week, the Office responds to at least five media requests for subject experts, fielding approximately 250 annual media inquiries. The Office staff often makes suggestions for op-ed (short opinion pieces) on timely topics and assists with the final editing and/or placement of the editorials. Upon request, the Office also prepares and distributes “hometowner” news releases to promote student academic achievements.
The shrinking of traditional media and the growth of social and new media necessitates creativity, flexibility and timeliness. Today’s 24/7 news cycle has created the need for maintaining an engaging and up-to-date online newsroom. From e-newsletters to the use of Facebook and Twitter, the communication landscape has expanded. These digital communication tools are invaluable in today's world of "citizen journalism"—a world where most people get their news online and there's no longer a monologue, but a dialogue. The Office provides strategic oversight and updates of news and information on the Rollins’ website. The Office also manages the College's online news room (the Rollins News Center) and its first-ever Student News Bureau. The Office takes the lead on emerging trends in social media and launched the award-winning R-Journals program, which is now in its sixth year and provides a unique look at day-to-day campus life through a student’s eyes. The Office heads up the new Social Media Advisory Group, is charged with maximizing and organizing the College’s online presence, and implements additional online and new media initiatives.
The Office provides editorial services and guidance for the College's primary external communication pieces and internal communication campaigns. The department also researches, writes, assists with production of a variety of printed materials, including announcement cards, flyers, brochures, posters and other communications. The Office oversees the writing and production of R-Community News, a community newsletter launched in 2005, which is distributed twice a year to Central Florida alumni, the local community and other friends of the College.
The Office maintains a referral directory for requests for information and services. All public inquiries received by the Office by phone or online are directed to the appropriate college office for response and/or fulfillment. The Office fulfills an estimated 300 public inquiries annually.