Campus & community, Campus news, Events at Berkeley

For campus communicators, telling the Berkeley story is serious business

By Public Affairs

What are best practices for incorporating social media into a promotional campaign? When making a promotional video for your department or college, where can you find sound clips you can legally include in your soundtrack? Given limited staff resources, which social-media platform will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Are there shareable communications resources on campus?

social media panelists

Panelists Porter Gale, Louis Gray, Lindsay Gottlieb and George Gallate led a panel discussion, curated by Ram Kapoor of Public Affairs (at podium), on best practices in social media. An attendee tweeted the message at bottom as they spoke.

Some 200 UC Berkeley staff came together June 14, to raise such questions, exchange information and meet their peers at the Berkeley Communications Conference (BC 2 ), the first large-scale gathering of campus communicators. The daylong, green-certified event featured campus and off-campus speakers, who shared insights on effective communications strategies and practices for the 21st century.

To promote an institution or project or to win a political battle, communicators need “strong vision, big ears,” said keynote speaker and UC Berkeley alumna Joan Blades. The co-founder now leads two other civic-action efforts, and Living Room Conversations, which aims to foster dialogue between conservatives and progressives.

“We can’t count on facts to change minds; emotions and values trump facts almost every time,” Blades noted, pointing to public skepticism on the human origins of climate change in the face of broad consensus from the scientific community.

Held in the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance, BC 2 was sponsored by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs (OCPA) whose associate vice chancellor, Claire Holmes, discussed how best practices in communications can be leveraged to tell UC Berkeley’s story more effectively.

“We need to counter an emerging perception that UC Berkeley is on the precipice of decline,” Holmes said. “It’s no longer sufficient to work on the edges of this. It’s time to pull out all the stops, to work together and reclaim our story to counter those perceptions. We need to take back our story and change the narrative.

“We have an abundance of emotional reserves we can tap into, in a conscious, thoughtful and strategic way with all of our communications,” added Holmes.  “Individually, as departments, we are very well regarded. Together, as a university, we are invincible.”

Citing communications fragmentation across campus, she urged attendees to “row in the same general direction” toward more connected messages about the campus and its contributions to society. “Our financial context is changing. As that happens, it is important to send clear messages about how we define ourselves in that new context — to stay true to our core values, be authentic and communicate positive, inclusive, hopeful and inspiring messages.”

Human Resources staffer Anna Gazdowiz welcomed the invitation to “row in the same direction.”

“It’s wonderful to hear that the campus is moving forward with more consistent communications efforts,” she said.

To assist campus units with communications work, Public Affairs is building a creative-messaging toolkit that staff across campus can draw upon and adapt to their particular needs. It will include a campuswide photo-sharing service, WebDAM, along with other resources. Training on the toolkit will be offered in the fall.