University Communications and Marketing responds to survey feedback

Thanks to all faculty and staff who responded to this year’s Administrative Services survey. Feedback provides helpful perspective and particularly so during these challenging times. By necessity, COVID-19 has been top priority for University Communications and Marketing (UCM) for nearly nine months. We have been helping address day-to-day issues and needs, on top of managing the COVID-19 website and issuing an average of 3-4 updates per month to keep campus well-informed. Additionally, UCM has pivoted time and again to create virtual experiences for commencement, admission visits, donor recognition, and other programs that would traditionally be held on campus and in person. All of these efforts have been on top of the team’s normal workload. To call this an extraordinary year would be a gross understatement. 

Despite the many challenges posed by COVID-19, survey feedback signals solid satisfaction with UCM. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being highest, campus colleagues rated UCM as 3.77. While that’s a decrease from 3.98 in 2019, the score is still above average and higher than years prior to 2019. And as has been the pattern for several years now, campus colleagues ranked UCM well above average for being courteous (4.42), professional (4.36) and knowledgeable (4.29). We are especially proud of these scores, and we appreciate the support and affirmation.

Survey respondents ranked UCM highest for campus communications (4.11) and branding (4.10). Alumni/donor communications (3.76) and student recruitment marketing (3.75) were perceived as the next-highest areas of strength. Still, UCM has room to improve. Colleagues ranked UCM lowest for responsiveness (3.84), compared to the very high marks for courteousness, professionalism, and knowledge. Some other general areas of desired improvement include better understanding audience needs (3.74), creating unique solutions to challenges (3.60) and making more of a significant impact (3.54). Specific areas of concern are strategic planning (3.38) and unit-level support, particularly in the area of public relations (3.65). Despite these criticisms, it’s worth sharing that UCM came in under budget for FY20 and improved in 15 of its 17 continuous improvement measures, including double-digit percentage gains in performance across platforms—i.e. paid media (advertising), earned media (PR), shared media (social media), and owned media (website and other digital assets). 

Still, we will take some time before winter break to reflect on this past calendar year—from the caucus season to COVID-19—and talk through how UCM might make even more of a positive impact in 2021. In addition, I will reach out to a cross-sample of campus partners in the next few weeks, to try to better understand how they define the main areas of criticism (e.g. “responsiveness”) and to gather more robust feedback on these concerns. Finally, the search for my successor has begun and a new UCM executive director should be in place by the time spring semester gets underway. She or he will have access to the survey feedback and my notes from campus partner follow-up discussions. No doubt this new leader of the UCM team will bring fresh insights and ideas on how to effectively support the University and its many needs.

— Dave Remund, Executive Director, University Communications and Marketing