Communications Professionals

Deans, directors, and chairs work closely with communications professionals to maximize visibility and contribute to their institutions 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 of Fine 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.  Click here to add your Communications Professionals, if you are already an Institutional Member. Or, click here to renew your Institutional Membership. 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

Membership is $200 annually and is only open to those whose institutions hold an active Institutional membership. Click here to add your Communications Professionals, if you are already an Institutional Member. Or, click here to renew your Institutional Membership. 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.

Recordings of Communications Professionals Online Meetings

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.