Archive for December, 2009

| posted by Joe Hice |

Information Discovery and a little Random Interaction among researchers

Earlier this week, as part of its regular meeting, the University Research Committee (URC) invited representatives from University Communications to discuss ways in which faculty and researchers communicate with one another. Tim Jones (dir. of Web Communications) and Luis Chacon (senior developer) led the discussion.  There’s a lot we all can learn about how the research side of the business likes to work with each other…and talk to each other.

Some surprises, some not so surprises, but a great exercise.  Here’s what Tim and Luis discovered in addition to the fact that the research group likes pizza!

Key Points:

  • In-person communication remains the most critical tool for fostering collaboration
  • Email is by far the most commonly used digital communication tool (but don’t we all complain about too much email?)
  • Personalized, customizable email subscriptions would help immensely
  • Providing multiple communication options is important since not everyone’s needs and expectations are the same
  • Specialized, somewhat private social media tools like Ning have potential to improve communication among faculty and researchers
  • Facebook and other popular social media tools hold little appeal for professional interaction among faculty and researchers
  • Collaboration tools like Google Docs and Google Wave offer promise as well
  • Ideally, more existing information and data sources would be integrated, offering easier access to related information
  • Finding faculty and researchers with shared interests isn’t easy (thus, you’ve got to reach far and wide)
  • Locating opportunities (seminars, etc.) across departments is difficult
  • The “randomness” of Web browsing often proves beneficial and should be encouraged and retained
  • Basic training and education for digital communication tools is essential



| posted by Joe Hice |

Dramatic change in higher-ed marketing

Sound familiar; 39,000 students, 2,300 faculty members, 15,000 staff, more than 200 different majors, the state’s leading Land Grant university with a strong focus on engineering, high technology, math and science, and 18 Division I/I-A NCAA athletic teams.  $10 million marketing communications budget. No, it’s not North Carolina State University in the year 2019, it’s Purdue University today.

Like many big universities, Purdue has struggled with its image. Who is Purdue, what is Purdue, how is Purdue different.  IMHO, Purdue still has a long way to go, but the university has taken dramatic measures to shore up its brand, starting with a major reorganization of the communications organization and pulling all communications into one unit.  The change has been so dramatic, many in higher education have taken note.  Marketing News too.  Read the story and let me know what YOU think.


Are the moves by Purdue too extreme?  Will they work?   Would a team approach like we’re taking here have been better?  What can we learn from their efforts?  I don’t know.  You tell me.

And just a note, today’s post is somewhat of a celebration for me.  I’ve reached the half-way point in my 100-days-on-campus blogging initiative and it has been awesome.  We’ve accomplished a lot, but just think of how much we have to accomplish during the next 50 days …and beyond:-)

Passion Rules!

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| posted by Joe Hice |

This is a test…NC State Crisis Exercise

This is a test.  There is nothing wrong with your cell phone. There is nothing wrong with your computer.  You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… the NC State Hazardous Materials Emergency Simulation!  Thank goodness it was only a test.

Yesterday I participated in my first test of the university’s crisis communications plan.  About 60 people gathered in the press room at Vaughn Towers around 8 a.m. and worked through a drill which would force us all to take our crisis and business continuity plans out of mothballs and actually use them.

The scenario called for a fire and explosion involving hazardous materials at the university’s environmental health and safety center adjacent to Wolf Village on the edge of central campus.  The fire produced a cloud of smoke with unknown properties being carried over Wolf Village by the prevailing winds.  Evacuations of students were called for and a number of business operations were relocated.  Media called. Parents called. Faculty and staff called.

By the end of the exercise, the fire had been extinguished, air and water pollution tracked and accounted for, students and staff moved back in.

What did we learn?  A lot.

First, be familiar with the crisis communications plan for the university and for your area. Did you know there was a phone tree. Yep, you call A, A calls B, B calls see, and so on and so on.  The idea is to share the responsibilities of notification. (more…)


| posted by Joe Hice |

The Student Survey — Results are in!

A few weeks back I talked about a group of students from the College of Management approaching us about doing an opinion survey and asking high school students what they thought about  North Carolina State University’s marketing materials.  We thought it was a good idea and the students set out to interview students about our “Red Means Go” television campaign.

The results are in…and are mixed.  The good news, most high school students who participated in two focus group sessions or responded to the online survey, like the television spot.  They thought it was memorable and they liked the spokesperson.  Some did say they thought the commercial was somewhat disjointed and rushed, but again, the overall response was positive.

On the downside, very few of the students had seen the spot:-(  Of 100 responses, 75% said they had not seen it.  Taken totally out of context, you might think that’s bad.  But I doubt more than 25% of the respondents had seen the spot from Duke University, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill or any other university for that matter.  Face it, given the budgets our universities have to work with, the spots  only air during “free” public service time on athletic events and if you’re not a football fan, chances are you have never seen the television commercials.  That reality is a bigger challenge and something we’ve got to deal with in the future…when our budget situation improves and we can actually buy television time to tell the story of NC State.

On the positive side, the average student “did not feel that the speaker had a negative impact” on the commercial, rating the speaker at 3.62 on a 5-point scale.  Not overwhelming support, but support nevertheless.  Respondents did feel more strongly that the commercial was unique, with an average scaled response of 4.019 on a 5-point scale. (more…)


| posted by Joe Hice |

Four State COMM Subcommittee chairs announced. Initial project outline follows

Chairs for the four State COMM Subcommittees have been identified and everyone is on board.  The chairs are:

  • Emily Parker and Jeannie Norris, Co-chairs, Marketing & Public Relations Subcommittee
  • Leslie Dare, Chair, Web Subcommittee
  • Natalie Hampton, Chair, Internal Communications Subcommittee, and
  • Michelle Clark, Chair, Publications Subcommittee.

I’d like to give a special thanks to the new chairs and co-chairs.  We’re all very busy and their willingness to take on yet another significant assignment is very much appreciated.  I’d offer the same thanks to all members of the subcommittees.

The initial work plan for all the subcommittees is pretty straight forward. Take a look.

  • Schedule a subcommittee meeting for early January to discuss the committee’s charge
  • Schedule weekly, bi-weekly or monthly follow-up meetings to monitor progress
  • Evaluate the initial university-wide SWOT analysis provided during last week’s Steering Committee meeting
  • Develop a SWOT analysis for your particular area of focus. For example, what are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to NC State University in the area of (Marketing & Public Relations, Web, Internal Communications, Publications) (more…)

| posted by Joe Hice |

Crisis drill Tuesday and other news from the NC State news desk

From the NC State news desk:

A drill to provide training during crisis situations, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, will have no effect on North Carolina State University campus activities or operations.

The table-top drill scenario involves a hypothetical crisis event occurring on campus. Members of NC State’s crisis team will discuss various scenarios and responses.

Thought you’d also be interested in NC State’s news presence over the past week. It’s pretty impressive, with NC State research appearing in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Popular Science, Forbes and the Chronicle of Higher Education (among other outlets).

I’m including three links below: one goes to the Forbes article, one goes to a page with links to all of the other news articles, and one goes to a story on the amazing breakthrough we’ve had related to Santa’s technology. 🙂

So check out all the good news — and share it! We encourage you to share some of these stories on your Facebook page, on your Twitter feed, or simply be emailing it to friends and family who love NC State.


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| posted by Joe Hice |

How to MAXIMIZE your creative resources

Adapted from a post by marketing guru Seth Godin (12-2-09)

When working with a creative shop (in house or outside agency that is),  your job isn’t to be innovative. Your job is to foster innovation. Big difference.

Fostering innovation is a discipline, a profession in fact. It involves making difficult choices and causing important things to get shipped out the door. Here are a few thoughts to get you started.

  • Before engaging with the innovator, foster discipline among yourself and your team. Be honest about what success looks like and what your resources actually are.
  • If you can’t write down clear ground rules about which rules are firm and which can be broken on the path to a creative solution, how can you expect the innovator to figure it out?
  • Simplify the problem relentlessly, and be prepared to accept an elegant solution that satisfies the simplest problem you can describe.
  • After you write down the ground rules, revise them to eliminate constraints that are only on the list because they’ve always been on the list.



| posted by Joe Hice |

Our brand is North Carolina State University

Good comments from many corners regarding the brand post from earlier this week.  Most agree with the six key messages presented, but not all.  Should there be more international mentions?  What about our teaching mission and service missions?  How about diversity on campus? Whats wrong with our brand being NC State?  Great stuff.

While the discussion is just beginning around Key Messages and a situation statement, we’ve also started looking at a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats exercise.  A university-wide analysis is first, then we’ll move to a functional level analysis.  SWOT of our PR & Marketing efforts, Internal Communications, Publications and Web stuff.  The colleges and units will also be doing — or redoing — the same thing.  All designed to help us get our arms around the situation on campus today and helping us position North Carolina State University for the future.

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Where will NC State by in 2019

A few weeks back I asked members of the university communications team to tell me where they thought NC State would be in 10 years.  No, I’m not trying to emulate Zager and EvansHere’s the first batch of those responses.  I’ll roll out additional comments occasionally. Splendid ideas here.  I hope you enjoy.

By 2019, I expect NC State to have over 40,000 students. I expect the university to be recognized for its research on health and well-being issues, ranging from medical devices to the mental effects of aging. I expect the university to be well-known in the region as a key driver in North Carolina’s economy. I also hope that the university will have established itself as a leader in educating the next generation of video game developers, and hopefully playing a role in encouraging the growth of the video game industry in NC.

For one thing, NC State will be a lot bigger. Estimates call for the university to grow to 40,000 students by 2017. That presents a host of challenges – how to teach more sections of English 111, for instance, and in which classrooms – but some opportunities, too, especially in distance education. Without the proper leadership – from the state legislature, the UNC system and the university itself – NC State might stray from what it is now: a solid regional university that does a great job of educating students to be tomorrow’s workers and leaders in relevant disciplines; doing basic research to help solve common and vexing problems; and reaching a hand out to people across the state to serve them. There’s nothing wrong with that. It should be shouted from the rooftops. In 10 years, NC State won’t be Harvard or Georgia Tech or even UNC-Chapel Hill – and that’s a good thing.



| posted by Joe Hice |

My “rabbit” ears are burning

There have been some pretty cool stories out of the NC State news bureau this year.  They highlight faculty research but also provide insight into some of the things that are just interesting in general.  For example, how to improve your free throw shooting on the basketball court (in this area, that’s a big deal) and more.

The recent release on antenna research is especially interesting, or at least I thought so.  A “self sealing, self healing” antenna.  Baby!

I am one of the old guys who grew up when rabbit ears were more common on top of the television set than on the rabbits in town.  They were the antennas that brought in the signal that helped reshape the world in which we live.  Today, research at North Carolina State may be changing the way we think — and look — at antennas in the future.  And the world is taking notice.

Matt Shipman | News Services | 919.515.6386

Dr. Michael Dickey | 919.513.0273

Release Date: 12.01.2009
Filed under NCSU Home, Releases

Antennas aren’t just for listening to the radio anymore. They’re used in everything from cell phones to GPS devices. Research from North Carolina State University is revolutionizing the field of antenna design – creating shape-shifting antennas that open the door to a host of new uses in fields ranging from public safety to military deployment.