Communications Professionals

Deans, directors, and chairs work closely with communications professionals to maximize visibility and contribute to their academic unit's reputation. Together, you collaborate on strategic communications, crisis management, and telling the institution's story through print and digital platforms. To augment your International Council for Arts Deans membership, a Communications Professionals Network has been formed. It is designed to create a network for communications professionals working in the visual and performing arts, design, and creative industries in higher education. The Communications Professionals Network engages throughout the year to share challenges and successes, best practices, strategies, research, communication models, and trends that support communications efforts in the creative, higher education space. 

We invite you to enjoy the benefits of ‘bundled’ membership: $1,600 annual dues includes an academic unit’s Dean plus four additional representatives of your choice. We think you’ll agree that the new ‘bundled approach offers benefits including less expense than the ‘a la carte’ structure that has been in place previously; a single invoice annually; broader participation throughout the year; and more diverse constituencies. Join us anytime during the year! Your membership year is based on the date you join or renew, for 12 months. To join or renew with a ‘bundled’ membership structure, please see the form on this webpage.

Or, click here to add your Communications Professional(s), if your academic unit chooses to use ICFAD’s ‘a la carte’ membership structure.

Either way, your academic unit’s communications professional is invited to participate in this thought community to support communications about and within the arts and creative areas in higher education. If you prefer to share your p-card information by phone for either, please call (561) 514-0810 or e-mail [email protected] for additional information.

Benefits of membership in ICFAD’s Communications Professionals Network include, but are not limited to: 

  • a network of colleagues who specifically work in the arts, design, and creative industries in higher education communications for professional development, information sharing, peer review, exchange and mentorship – Communications Professionals Helping Communications Professionals 
  • quarterly online conversations for sharing information and best practices
  • workshops virtually
  • ICFAD Communications Professionals membership directory for mentorship, consultancy and exchange
  • on-going communication through a listserv information exchange
  • opportunities for surveying colleagues related to communications programs, addressing issues and best practices
  • opportunities to advertise communications searches in ICFAD's Career Center

Upcoming Opportunities

ICFAD Communications Professionals: Podcast 101
Thursday, May 30th
1:00 pm Eastern / 12:00 pm Central / 11:00 am Mountain / 10:00 am Pacific
Grab your headphones and join us for a session on the basics of starting your college’s very own podcast. Find out what content is most engaging, what technology does it require and why this might be a solid addition to your communications matrix. Register for this discussion.

Recordings of Communications Professionals Online Meetings

Our March, 2024 meeting, Generating Student-produced Social Media Content and its Value, we discussed how our students’ voices can be among some of the most engaging and engaged-with when it comes to our college and university social media accounts, but the process of manifesting that student-generated content can be complex and challenging. In this session, we heard from Andrew Thompson Landerghini and Ashley Jian Thomson, social media managers at the University of Utah, who shared the ways they have worked with students, what has worked, and what hasn’t. Here is the slide deck from the presentation.

Our January, 2024 meeting, Creating a Unified College Brand that Reflects its Disparate Parts, was facilitated by Jordan Howe, founder at Partner at Arcade Partners. Jordan has been an influential part of client marketing strategies for more than a decade. He worked closely with arts administrators at University of Utah to create their unified brand. His management style, strategic thinking, financial discipline and creativity helped him oversee strategic advertising and marketing campaigns for clients including Microsoft, Sony, and Intermountain Healthcare. Here is Jordans' slide deck.

Our November 2023 meeting, The Plight of Social Media Managers, facilitator Sarah Goodson, Director, Fine Arts Ticketing Office, Florida State University School of Theatre, shared what she learned in the preparation of this article. Invite your college’s social media managers to join us and share their experiences. Listen in yourself to learn more about how supportive understanding might ease some of the stress.

Our May 2023 meeting: Streamlining Performing Arts Ticketing Systems,

Our March 2023 meeting: Ditch the flier: Making your online content mobile friendly and accessible, presented by  Jocelyn Kearl, Founder / Owner / Chief Strategist for Third Sun Productions, a small but mighty team of creatives dedicated to making things that work better for people who make communities great. She and her team came to us through Marina Gomberg, Director of Communications + Marketing, The University of Utah College of Fine Arts. We are grateful for the connection! Here is Jocelyn's slide deck. 

Our November 2022 meeting: Equity-Centered Marketing and Communication Practices, presented by Dr. Nicole Robinson, focused on implementing effective marketing and communication strategies around rapidly changing cultural shifts. What should I message? What types of images should I use? What story should I center the narrative around? Unfortunately, searching for the “perfect” answers to such questions often immobilizes art colleges’ marketing and communications experts for fear of “missing the mark.” Dr. Robinson shared a four-part equity-centered framework will guide marketing and communication efforts to ensure outcomes are inclusive and create a culture of belonging – one that accepts, values, and leverages the strengths in differences – in every college. If you missed this November 2022 presentation, you are invited to reach out to our featured speaker through her website at Cultural Connections by Design.

Our April 2022 meeting:  Best Practices for Successful Advancement Communications focused on being sure we’re truly communicating and not just talking, while considering best practices for advancement-related communications. Facilitating our conversation was Royce Smith, Dean, College of Arts & Architecture, Montana State University and Luis Islas, Director of Development at the Montana State University Alumni Foundation and liaison to the College of Arts and Architecture. Here is a copy of the page from UNLV’s Annual Report featuring the story about Alison Vondrak.

Branding your Unit within the Wider College, University or Community Structures was the topic of a January 20, 2022 online discussion. Sharing were:

  • Chris Casquilho, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Western Washington University, whose approach has included tone of email/social posts; iconic artwork uniquely recognizable to students and audiences; imagery that tells the story of our projects and departments; project design that nudges stakeholders.
  • Alicia Dietrich, Director of Communications, College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, who recently completed a multiyear branding project that drew upon market research with the college's key audiences to create a new brand guide. The brand guide outlines key messages and visual branding standards for departments in the college that align with the larger UT Austin brand, while leaving room for the college to express its unique flavor of the brand.
  • Dylan Lowe, Graphic Designer & Web Manager, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design at Indiana University Bloomington, who recently wrapped up a Differential Value Proposition project which has guided the look and feel of the school’s website, recruitment materials, and messaging. It differentiated the Eskenazi School from other schools, including those within IU, while staying within the overarching brand. 

You may access and download a PDF of the slide deck here.

ICFAD's Communications Professionals: Storytelling was held on October 21, 2021. In this session we discussed how storytelling is an important tool for authentically communicating the university experience. Yet, producing each piece of content can involve time-intensive tasks. By planning to repurpose stories across a variety of platforms, one can reach broader audiences. In this session, we talked about story and image selection, content management, resource sharing, and how to repackage content for a variety of purposes.

Media Relations: The Great, the Good and the Challenges was an online program offered in July 2021. We all would like our stories placed in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, but very few of us have the staff dedicated to building these kinds of long-term relationships . . .should they be reaching out via social media? Does the traditional press release, emailed to a list, end up in a spam folder? How much time should they be dedicating to building relationships with reporters? Do news outlets even have traditional reporters any more? What, if anything, is the role of the influencer? What's the best way to get a story placed? What do reporters need to run with a story (thinking here about the pitch but also the complete press package, including images ready to go)? Mary Dettloff, Office of News and Media Relations, Umass Amherst, shared this slide deck. She encouraged us to all become familiar with The Conversation and to reach out to the university liaison there: [email protected]

April 2021 meeting: Power of Positivity: Simple Steps for Success Tim Hodges, PhD, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, professor in the UNL College of Business, and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, discussed the importance of focusing on strengths as we strive to maintain positive focus.

Our January 2021 meeting: More than 80 people joined us for Best Practices: Digital Marketing for the Arts in Higher Education, a conversation centered around strategies for delivering promotional content to users through various online and digital channels change rapidly. Leveraging messaging by employing social media, email, search engines, mobile apps, affiliate programs and websites to advertise and reach audiences is challenging yet can be very productive in achieving goals. Digital advertising and digital marketing are key tools in developing the brand and promotional messaging, and are crucial to generate interest and attract arts audiences. You’re invited to click on the presentation title to see a recording of the session. Here is a copy of Chris’ slidedeck and here is a copy of Alice’s slidedeck.