Editor Terry McDonell on a Lifetime of Writing – and Writers

Terry McDonell, author of the new memoir, The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers, has edited some of the best writers of our generation — and likely some of them are better because of him. Yet he opened his remarks at the independent bookstore Book Passage in Marin County, California with a confession – “I could… Continue Reading

Alumni on the Frontlines of Legislative Advocacy

It’s been a challenging year in higher education, which long has been recognized as one of the United States’ greatest assets. Yet as thousands of graduates prepare to receive their diplomas, focus on educational “value” has been diluted by political and economic turmoil about access, affordability and career relevance. If any audience can affirm higher… Continue Reading

Writing with Your Ears – Finely Tuning How You Write for Others

Even though they hire pros to write their prose, clients are often skeptical that their voice will be faithfully captured. They’re taking a risk that they won’t be represented correctly, will unwittingly look foolish or will fail to achieve the impact intended. All that said, they know they need a writer or they wouldn’t have… Continue Reading

The Mandate for “Strategy” in University Communications

In today’s charged higher education environment, the successful communications offices have transitioned from the “PR” and media relations focus of the past to a strategic partnership with presidents, senior leadership and governing boards. Traditionally regarded as news bureaus and information processors, communications professionals are being asked to take on a leadership role in institutional change… Continue Reading

When Marketing Turfs Development – Who Wins?

As a practitioner of integrated marketing, I’m a big believer in the adage,”the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” and an advocate of forging the link between development and marketing communications, especially before the start of a major fundraising campaign. When executed successfully, such collaboration results in delivering the best customer experience. So… Continue Reading

Communications Audits: Your Customers Speak

Ever ask the question — what’s wrong with this picture? A communications audit is the way to find out. For alumni associations, fundraising organizations and advancement offices striving to cultivate more effective engagement and support, a communications audit will help you assess your staff structures and the effectiveness of your communications programs. What’s more, you can act on… Continue Reading

A Pleasant Diversion: Isabel Allende on Writing

This is a pleasant diversion — the opportunity to hear author Isabel Allende talk about writing Island Beneath the Sea, a novel that captures the revolutionary history of Haiti as it became the world’s first black republic. “I wasn’t planning to write this book — I was planning to write about the pirates of the Caribbean… Continue Reading

University PR Offices and Alumni: A Disconnect?

Many university public relations offices seem to have a tin ear when it comes to the potential power of harnessing alumni voices for strategic campaigns — such as legislative advocacy. And it’s a missed opportunity. Monovision in the PR office is not what’s needed at a time when making the case for investing in education is vital to… Continue Reading

Alumni Communicators: Reframe Your “Case for Support”

Evolving technologies keep alumni communicators on a reactive whirl. A new idea to test, a new format to try — all with the purpose of keeping the alumni information “churn” going. But what’s the communications strategy that will both create value for alumni and yield ROI for the institution’s overall goals for increased support of… Continue Reading

Fundraising is Business!

There’s been a lively debate underway in the Chronicle of Philanthropy about whether about fundraisers are “selling” a product. Putting money at the center of the development relationship taints the process, argues veteran fundraiser Jennifer McCrea in her Exponential Fundraising blog. Yet the notion of “selling” shouldn’t be a dirty word because it solves problems and meets… Continue Reading