Posted: October 27th, 2022

Responses

 In your responses to your classmates, look at their analyses and determine if their reasoning is sound or not and why. 

Respond 2 classmates discussion

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speak in first person. Speak as you are talking to each classmate directly

Haley Discussion:

I previously worked within a private University system that holds several locations throughout the country. The school holds a reputation of social progress via education; additionally,  its mission is closely aligned with environmental justice. While the specializations vary by campus, the most highly enrolled programs were those pertaining to ecology, sustainability, and environmental studies. The University’s mission is to, “provide learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice.” Unfortunately, like many institutions of higher education, the University was struggling to remain financially solvent. Over a 10 year period, the school’s flagship location in the Midwest, which almost exclusively offered masters-level programs in education,  saw nearly a 70% enrollment decline after their state changed requirements for educators within their state. 

In an attempt to expand on program offers and ultimately increase enrollment, the University was researching industries expected to see growth, and program offerings that would create pathways to those industries. After months of research, the president of the University held a town hall to share out the task force’s findings, as well as next-steps in imagining new programs. Of primary interest to the taskforce was the prospect of creating a commercial trucking school, wherein truckers could earn commercial licenses, credentials, and college credits. Upon hearing the news, staff and faculty were irate; they were disgusted that administrators would even consider such an option, when freight shipping and trucking have sizable negative impacts on the environment. Many argued that creating commercial trucking programs would be in direct opposition to the institutional mission, vision, and values. 

In comparing this communication to Vaughn’s article, it seems as though University leadership demonstrated ineffective communication processes and stakeholders had lacking trust. While the institution was financially struggling, many saw this plan as a prioritization of money over educational imperatives. As shared by Vaughn, “It’s always best policy to start with the truth and then you don’t have to worry about covering a lie.” (2012, p. 5). While the executive team didn’t outright lie to stakeholders, many saw the initiative as being disingenuous to institutional values. The communication was overall ineffective because leadership failed to consider stakeholder opinions and weren’t successful in drafting a plan that aligned with the institutional mission. Because the communication approach was top-down, it failed to consider or integrate the opinions of staff or faculty. Had executive leadership have invited the perspectives of stakeholders earlier in the process, they may have saved time and the emotional energy of employees. 

I ended up leaving the institution shortly after this announcement, and from what I can tell from researching online, it seems as though the school scrapped this idea. It’s good to see that leadership eventually listened to the perspective of stakeholders, though it likely eroded trust in the process.

References:

Vaughn, D. (2012, January 9). The Top Five Reasons Communications Fail. Www.tmcnet.com. 

https://www.tmcnet.com/topics/articles/253113-top-five-reasons-communications-fail.htm

Leah Response:

One of the positions I’ve held over the years in government was Communications and Issues Manager.  As part of this role, I was tasked with ensuring that my Member of Parliament was aware of all the current government “messaging” and was sharing the relevant information accordingly, whether that be on social media, through emails, in meetings with stakeholders, or through other channels.  The centre office (our mothership) thought it would be a great idea to coordinate messaging among all Members and so they sent out caucus kits where people were encouraged to just send out the prepackaged messaging on the day they received.  The belief was that this synchronized communications approach on social media channels would help get the word out proactively so that constituents or other affected parties wouldn’t feel like they had to track down the information or worse – be misinformed by inaccurate tweets, reporting, etc.  While the intention behind the communications approach was well-intentioned, it went off like a lead balloon.   Many social media users quickly started to notice that all the Members messaging was the exact same, the pictures were the exact same, and the timing of it all coming out at the same time was unfortunate.  While the Members were not told to send out information or updates at a specific time, because their days were always so busy, many of them would just share it immediately when they got the email.  All of the similarities in communications were too much for the public to shake off as coincidental and they started calling out the government for trying to force Members to communicate a certain way.  They called the centre of government controlling and compared the approach to communist countries and information control.

The communications approach held on for quite some time and it still somewhat exists at the present time but it’s less coordinated and Members are more focused on sharing information that is relevant to their riding or their stakeholders. I believe that the communications strategy failed because the government was still in its early days of forming and they had yet to build trust or credibility with the public (Vaughan, 2012).  This lack of trust can negatively impact brand reputation and affect how your message is interpreted.  It’s important first to build and maintain trust before engaging in a heavy-handed social media campaign.  Social media can be a great tool for sharing information, showing the public you are authentic, transparent, and want to meet their needs however, it’s important first to “know who your followers are and make sure your posts and content align with their interests” (Fertik, 2019).  In this case, the centre did not fully analyze what the public wanted and how they wanted to be communicated to.  Social media offers us an outlet to show our human side, especially in politics, but in the example I provided, the communications strategy was more robotic and quickly aroused suspicion among all stakeholders. 

References

Fertik, M. (2019, November 26). How To Get Customers To Trust You. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelfertik/2019/11/26/how-to-get-customers-to-trust-you/?sh=23b7c30af8d6.

Vaughan, D. (2012, January 9). The Top Five Reasons Communications Fail. TMCnet. https://www.tmcnet.com/topics/articles/253113-top-five-reasons-communications-fail.htm.

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