• Joseph Brennan

Presidents worry that the public misunderstands higher ed. Strategic communications is the solution

According to the latest Inside Higher Ed survey of college presidents (3/9/18), the overwhelming majority believe that the public misunderstands how institutions operate, eroding trust and support.

Yet how many of them invest adequately in strategic communications? How many assure that it's headed by a seasoned executive who is given authority and influence equal to other C-level leaders on the cabinet? How many demand contemporary best practices from their communication and marketing teams?

Far too often, we see leaders who regard the function as merely a telegram office that exists to transmit messages - not as what it can and should be, a strategic element of the university leadership system.

We're still seeing too many presidents make communications report in the wrong place, like the fundraising office (a model that's been discredited for years). And we're seeing too many allow 90-95% of the total institutional marketing spend to remain dispersed across the organization, instead of concentrated in the hands of a Chief Marketing and Communications Officer with the experience and education to maximize ROI.

Thankfully, there are many chancellors and presidents who understand, support and empower truly strategic communications - yet there are still too many who do not. If public misperceptions are truly a major threat to the industry, we need all of our presidents to step up on this issue and allow us to really do it right.

Do you agree?

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