We are delighted to announce that Steve Kloehn, a senior leader in higher education and communications, has joined co-founders Julie Peterson and Lisa Rudgers as a partner in the Peterson Rudgers Group.
The following essay by PRG partners Steve Kloehn, Julie Peterson and Lisa Rudgers appeared in Inside Higher Ed on April 21, 2020.
For colleges and universities across the country, the past few weeks represented an historic, breathtaking achievement. Faced with the choice to act or be acted upon, higher education institutions took the initiative and led the nation.
In a matter of days, they transformed curricula that would normally take years or decades to reshape. In the face of deep uncertainty, wobbly governmental guidance, and no precedent whatsoever, they moved thousands and thousands of students out of harm’s way. They made bold choices, and they did so with intelligence, grace, and an unfathomable amount of hard work.
And now, even as we counsel our clients to find time for a breather, we know that can be only the briefest of respites. Because if colleges and universities are to recover from this pandemic, leaders must begin now to plan what those institutions will do and be when the crisis ebbs. Continue reading
An essay published by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania captured our attention: “Overlooking Communication: Why Strategists are Missing a Trick.” It is true in almost every organization we’ve experienced that leaders underestimate how much, and what kind of, communication is needed to move an organization toward a strategic vision.
Authors Mark Leiter and Jeff Pundyk write: “Executives crafting strategy often miss a powerful trick — instead of making communication a top priority throughout the entire strategy development journey, they typically focus on communication only as they approach the final stages of their work.
“This may have worked when things moved slower. With every passing year, however, the available ‘time to decision’ is shrinking while executives are buried in a daily communication avalanche. Cutting through the clutter requires strategic content that is crisp, compelling and inspiring at every point in the strategy process and beyond.”
I came across an interesting article in The Atlantic recently, and noted it for further reflection. The story, “Employers Are Looking for ‘Influencers’ within their Own Ranks,” looks at the trend of companies tapping their employees to serve as brand ambassadors and social media influencers. Although the context is for-profit business, the concept is directly relevant to college and university marketing.
Higher ed communications typically focus on external promotion: media placements, enrollment marketing, videos and photos for social media campaigns. When internal communication is considered, it’s usually in the context of a problem: addressing a lack of trust or campus concerns around a specific issue. Rarely has it been a strategic and intentional part of a broader communications program.
Let’s face it: change is usually hard for everyone. Yet, in light of the competitive pressures facing colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations, both the need for productive change and the pace of change are growing rapidly. Some observers have even argued that constant change is the new normal for institutions in every sphere of life.
Change is especially hard for mission-driven organizations. This is in part because they have complex matrices of stakeholders, and they depend upon faculty, staff, and volunteers who believe fiercely in the mission and culture. These organizations also exist, as a colleague of mine once astutely observed, not only to break new ground and challenge the status quo but also to preserve and document the past. The sense of tradition runs deep. Continue reading