SIGUCCS 2017 Conference Takeaway – Beyond Geek Speak

Beyond Geek Speak: Dedicated Communications Expert is Critical to Successful Campus IT Shop

Presented by: Vicki L. Smith, University of West Virginia

Vicki Smith, a seasoned journalist and communications professional, shared her experience entering the IT world and selling her services as a marketer of theirs. From her position in the office of the CIO at West Virginia University, Vicki has overseen major communications initiatives and responded to crises with foresight and planning hard to come by when communications are outsourced to a centralized organization. The session focused on lessons learned from her experience, as well as guidance on how IT professionals can shift their thinking to accommodate an “outsider’s” expertise.

This session really indicated the need for an investment in the right people to provide communications channels. The right person can bridge the gap between geek speak and campus lingo. This person also knows which tools and medium to use to reach the intended audiences. Establishing a rapport with the community is an important step in developing a communications strategy, along with establishing processes and procedures for communications during crises.

Full session description & PP slides are available on Sched:

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“Make communication a priority, not an afterthought” by involving the communications person in projects from the start. This will allow them the ability to help craft messages to the community throughout the project. – Lisa Brown

Vicki is such a dynamic presenter and not afraid to tell hard truths. As a communications professional in a lower-tier role at my university, I liked hearing her perspective from working at a higher level with broader oversight and decision-making authority. – Becky Cowin

Vicki’s presentation resonated with what I frequently encounter at my institution—working with engineers and technicians who are often resistant to see technology tools as a customer-focused business solutions. It’s reassuring to know that there are others in the SIGUCCS community who are experiencing similar challenges. After the conference, I immediately shared with communications experts at my school the highlights from this session—my colleagues were very ecstatic and encouraged! – Mo Nishiyama