When I first worked on campus, I spent most of the summer vacation preparing for the next school year. We not only use time to identify and plan proactive messaging, storytelling, and media opportunities, but we also anticipate possible problems and potential crises. This means considering major issues in higher education, as well as logistical issues within our department, such as adding new employee positions or taking maternity leave. I love it. The opportunity to take a deep breath, develop a strategy, and approach the semester with a clear mind and well-thought-out plan makes me feel that I am ready for success and ready to accept everything I have to throw at me this year.
It also represents a noticeable change in pace from the often busy semester. However, as time goes by, the summer workload has increased. The busyness in July gradually deepened, until everything started again in August. I have never felt more vague than last summer. This is a rather dark period of the pandemic, and the news cycle is difficult to keep up due to its speed and the heaviness of the matter. This summer seems calmer in some ways, but many people are still trying to catch their breath-which makes it difficult to take time to plan.
For many, August this year will mark the first full return to campus since March 2020. As students and employees return to campus, some of the problems that have been infiltrating in the context of COVID may reappear with new ferocity. Due to the pandemic, other things have bubbled up or intensified.
Now is the time to predict the possible positive and negative impacts of 2022-22 and plan accordingly. Sometimes it feels impossible to stop, but unlike COVID, we know that certain realities are coming, and planning before they arrive will help ensure that we are prepared to deal with them. In addition to COVID-related topics, such as possible outbreaks, new variants and vaccine policies, there are some things that I expect to play a more important role in the coming year.
I realize this is vague and extensive, but because there are so many problems with politicization, politics nowadays involves almost everything. Prepare for the more politically active and polarized student body to return to campus. Pay attention to language and reaction. Be prepared and scanned for comments or attacks from teachers, administrators, or students who have shared statements on traditional or social media that evoke a strong reaction-not to monitor their opinions, but to be prepared to respond in some way if any necessary. Do research on guest speakers and honorary degree recipients—again, don’t limit views, but make sure you are prepared if the agency needs to defend or apologize for mistakes.
Ransomware attacks are generally on the rise, Included in higher educationThis issue is particularly complicated because it has the potential (and most likely) to paralyze the communication channels we use to reach the audience in an emergency. As the difficulty increases, it is important to develop a clear crisis plan, which has been established and is ready to use alternate communication methods. If this has not been practiced as a tabletop exercise or crisis team scenario, now is the summer to add it.
Although the predictability of specific events is slightly less, most parts of the country have experienced more extreme weather in recent years. Be prepared for what was unlikely a few years ago but may happen now.
Many experts have identified this pandemic period as a “great resignation.”People expect Leave their current job, In all areas, the numbers are quite high, which means that your organization (including your department) is unlikely to survive. Consider this fact when planning the year and establishing the project team. The stronger your collaboration ability, the better the internal communication, and the easier the job change will be.
The media landscape remains precarious. The shrinking newsroom encountered endless news from the Trump administration, and then the global pandemic. Forcing more reporters to lay offThe news cycle has recently slowed down, but journalists continue to be stretched, and competition for column space is still fierce. Newer media, such as podcasts and newsletters, tend to focus on niche topics. Get more audience, But many people on campus are still skeptical of their value. All this (and more) means that the work of media relations professionals is also changing, and we have a responsibility to keep up with these changes, adapt and educate people on campus about realistic expectations and the value of placement beyond top daily newspapers.
This list is not exhaustive. But most of the problems that have plagued me lately are either that I didn’t focus on media relations when I first started working on higher education, or they were so remote that they rarely raised them in serious plans. Today, it is hard to ignore them.
Like many of you, I look forward to a year that feels more normal-and visit campus again. For communications professionals, part of returning to normal is to have a dedicated time to plan for the coming year. This summer, I must find time to prepare for my success.