American Public University System (Winter 2016)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

5 p.m.

Informal Gathering

Paddy's Irish Pub, 210 W Liberty St., Charles Town

Friday, February 26, 2016

8 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9-9:30 a.m.

Welcome and 25th Anniversary Celebration

9:30-10:30 a.m.


10:45-11:45 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Publication Design Triple Play

Do you want some feedback on one of your publications? Our panel of professionals is ready to offer you some thoughts, ideas, and creative changes to bring new life to your publication. Bring three copies of a printed magazine, view book, or other publication (or have a link ready for viewing of an online publication) so that our panel can provide some quick thoughts! Learn from feedback on your publication as well as your peers' publication.

  • Sarah Elliott, Virginia Tech
  • Maria Jackson, American University
  • Colby Smith, Shenandoah University

More than New Skin: A Website Transformation

A site that hinges on powerful, stunning images, yet also leverages crowd-sourced content of varied quality. A social media aggregator that was built in-house. A bold move to put the needs of one audience above the rest. 101 program pages—all reworked from scratch—which speak to the student, not to the academician. A first for Roanoke College, this website launched a new brand platform, first digitally, with print following behind. Join us to take a look at this case study, and hear about the successes, the challenges and how significant change was made in the strategic use of the website.

  • Blair Garland, Roanoke College
  • Ed Foster, Foster Design
  • Bruce Rutter, Foster Design

The Art of the Pitch

Two senior higher education professionals who specialize in media relations will offer participants a variety of approaches that work in placing news stories. Whether pitching a story from scratch or finding opportunities in news that shows up on your campus, they'll offer tips to improve media-pitching skills and offer some case studies. And, they show how "negative" stories can actually increase your college's news attention and reputation.

  • Brian Eckert, Washington and Lee University
  • Anne Marie Lauranzon, Randolph-Macon

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.

Lunch, Networking, and Board Business

25th Anniversary Toast

1:15-2:15 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Best Practices in Brand Story

Marketing and communications practitioners provide the strategic thinking and the creative inspiration to advance their institutions, people and academic programs. Yet the challenge isn't in in the telling of our stories, it's in the process of deciding which stories differentiate our institutions from all the others. Shenandoah University's Director of Marketing Services and Senior Editor Cathy Loranger provides insights from a study with public and private colleges and universities that reveals best practices in brand story strategy can help you better communicate your mission, vision, and experiences to your most important audiences.

  • Cathy Loranger, Shenandoah University

ABC – Always Be Curating: Four Steps to Authentic Storytelling in the Digital Age

In today's social media driven age, nobody is a more authentic marketer of your brand than your students. But you have to be listening to find the best stories. In this session, you'll learn the four steps you can follow to find great brand stories, build relationships with your audience, and create compelling content. Whether you're in a marketing, web, social media or communications role, you'll walk away with the process and tools needed to discover this often-untapped wealth of content and curate it to tell authentic and compelling stories. You don't have to be Alec Baldwin (a GW alumnus) to "Always Be Closing Curating."

  • Lesley Grier, The George Washington University
  • Jon Hussey, The George Washington University

How to Compete in the Growing Online Marketplace

For-profit institutions have historically faced significant challenges in validating their academic quality and reputation with prospective students, regulators and Congress. Now, as many traditional brick and mortar schools introduce hybrid or dedicated online offerings, and in the wake of the failure of Corinthian, those competitive challenges have increased exponentially. In this session, Brian Muys from fully-online American Public University System will discuss how they have adapted their institutional positioning and supporting earned and social media campaigns to address changing market perceptions of online education and better compete for the hearts and minds of online students.

  • Brian Muys, American Public University System

2:15-2:30 p.m.

Networking and Snack Break

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Managing Change Effectively with Multiple Audiences: Going from Mary Baldwin College to Mary Baldwin University

When does it make sense to change your institution's name, risking alumni furor while expending scarce resources and time? For all the right reasons, Mary Baldwin College will soon become Mary Baldwin University—after a lengthy decision-making process that involved extensive research, debate, strategic planning, a re-branding process, and lots and lots of communication with alumni, faculty and staff, and students. This case study provides a model for asking the right questions, objectively seeking pertinent data, and engaging a broad array of stakeholders to gain buy-in and bring about needed institutional change.

  • Crista Cabe, Vice President for Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs, Mary Baldwin College

Planning for the Next Generation of Social Media
  • Tiffany Broadbent Beker, College of William & Mary
  • Megan Hughes, Virginia Tech
  • Rob Pongsajapan, Georgetown University

Navigating a Crisis: Flying Solo vs. Enlisting a Co-Pilot

Crises take us on turbulent journeys that require skillful steering to preserve personal and institutional reputations. Gain insight from three panelists with different perspectives and experiences. Teresa Gereaux led a small shop in managing a facility crisis on her campus. Anna Billingsley suddenly found herself in the midst of several simultaneous crises. As issues escalated and began grabbing national—even international—attention, her university decided to enlist outside help. That's where Sarah Huddle of Albright Group came in, and that investment not only provided immediate relief and direction but also helped shaped UMW's ongoing crisis communication process.

  • Anna B. Billingsley, Associate Vice President for University Relations, University of Mary Washington
  • Teresa Thomas Gereaux, APR, Director of Public Relations, Roanoke College
  • Sarah Huddle, APR, Founder, Albright Group

3:30 p.m.

Conference Adjourns