Monthly archives of “November 2012

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I am the brand

No doubt you’ve heard it before. Probably from much smarter folks than me. But I know if you’ve followed me for any time on Twitter, you have. It’s one of my favorite hashtags to use when I’m talking about representing my school, my university, my boards, and my organizations.


I. Am. The. Brand.

It’s a mantra, or it can be for all of us who work in marketing and communication, whether that’s for a nonprofit, educational institution, or for-profit business. Come on. Say it with me. I am the brand.

It can sound a little obsessive at times. However, it’s important to remember that you can create a lasting impression of your organization in one simple act – being responsible for doing what’s right for your stakeholders.

Living the brand comes down to concrete tasks for me. It’s more tactical than strategic in everyday life. What it means is that I say positive things about my employer to people who will listen. I proudly tell my friends and neighbors where I work, especially when they’re thinking about pursuing a degree. I wear my university’s colors proudly. And, most important, I display and talk about my school’s core values – professionalism, public service, and access to justice – all the time.

These are my ways to show the brand, but they might not work for everyone. What will work – for everyone, I’m certain of it – is displaying a level of customer service that makes people WANT to be a part of my community. A few of the Very Important Actions – at least in my eyes – are:

  • Answer the phone. Don’t let it ring. Every person who calls has an outlet for saying people positive or negative things about your school. Don’t you want them to be positive?
  • Answer the questions. If you can’t, take a message and find someone who can.
  • Respond to your email. Even if it’s to say you have to get back with the right answer.
  • Find the answers. You can’t become a subject matter expert in everything about your organization, but you can answer simple questions – like when is registration, or how do I get a transcript, or where is the event tonight?
  • Never, ever say, “It’s not my job.” Even if it’s not technically your job. Joe Student doesn’t care, and he won’t care when he gets on the phone to Mom … and on Twitter … and on Facebook … to complain if your customer service sucks.

If I had a top #iamthebrand take-away, it would be that last bullet point. Find what you love about your job and then use that motivation to deliver the best service to every stakeholder you have. Sure, it will be tiring. It will be depressing at times because very few people will subscribe to your mantra. It will be stressful and frustrating.

But it will also be incredibly rewarding. You’ll know it when the student you help walks across the stage to graduate and then promotes your brand to anyone and everyone who will listen.

That’s the payoff of living the brand.

So I challenge you… What will you do today to live the brand?

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Your Work Matters

There’s a work-study student who works for the janitorial staff on campus.

Every day, that student will come and empty my trash. I always make a point to ask how his day is going, to say thanks and wish him a good day. mjc-090805-7598Whenever he comes in, I will often think back to something my father told me as a preteen about mopping the kitchen floor.

I would grumble about having to do it, and he’d say “Even if you’re going to be the boss, you need to know what the guy mopping floors’ job is. If you don’t, he can tell you it takes six hours and you’d never know any different.” (I’m paraphrasing…)

So when those students come take my trash, I think of being a junior enlisted airman in my first few months in the Air Force. There, among my out-of-training duties, I was doing precisely what this student worker is doing now.

I’d look at the folks in their “important” office jobs, wondering when I’d get to do what they were doing. Now that I’ve been on the other side for a little while, I never get too far from empathizing with folks who might see me and think, “Will I ever get there?”

So this all leads me to thinking about being a solo in higher education. 

One of the challenges of toiling in semi-obscurity is the wide range of issues that come with the territory. Whether it’s people not understanding what your job is, questioning how much you might to do or just a desire to reach out to a wider audience and share your expertise; it can be difficult to even process your talents to communicate to a wider audience.

One of the challenges of blogging regularly is wondering what your work really matters. The only way to know, is to speak up. Whether it’s a conference, blogging or sharing your insights through conversations with others, (or join us on Twitter!) there is no doubt that your work and insights as a professional¬†do¬†matter.

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Do It Yourself – #LifeatIC

The other day, I sat down (virtually) with Ithaca College‘s Rob Engelsman to talk about the school’s recent #LifeatIC project.

Rob is an IC grad who started out doing social media for the college while he was still in school. He transitioned into a full-time gig, and has used his youth to his advantage in the development of content that speaks to both current students and alumni.

Learn more about the #LifeatIC project and the team Rob works with to pull off all this magic. And be sure to stay to the end, where Rob talks about his student social media team and how they work together to show all us outsiders what life is like at Ithaca College.