A Marketing Communications Plan for

Auburn University









Office of Communications and Marketing

October, 2004






In the coming years, Auburn University’s Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) will play an increasingly pivotal role in the success of the institution.  Academic institutions are currently competing for students, resources and reputation with greater ferocity than ever before. Expenditures by universities for marketing projects and for the services of marketing consultants have become a more significant segment of the university budget.

At Auburn, OCM continues to provide a wide array of services to the campus. The list of responsibilities and projects is lengthy -- publications and printing services; internal communications management, including the creation and production of AUDaily, AU Report, Auburn Commons, e-Commons and a variety of other communications tools and vehicles; issues management and crisis communication; media relations; community relations; advertising; marketing; contributions to policy decisions; and management of the University’s web presence. Although Auburn University’s central communications and marketing team is small in comparison to peer institutions throughout the South, these important tasks and projects are being accomplished by a productive and engaged staff.

These services are available to a multitude of customers on the campus, each of whom may have different needs, goals and audiences.  Communication from any one part of the campus must present clear messages that accurately reflect the values and goals of the entire institution. The integration of divergent viewpoints, styles and philosophies into a comprehensive University-wide image and message is essential. Significant time and resources are needed to ensure that messages to Auburn’s myriad audiences are appropriate and complementary.

The tasks and responsibilities of OCM have direct application to a significant number of the University’s strategic initiatives.  The office’s efforts are the central, essential component of the University’s endeavors in enrollment management, scientific and scholarly research, sponsored research and economic development, fund raising, athletics, undergraduate and graduate education and community relations. Support for these initiatives is multi-faceted and must be coordinated appropriately, while keeping the overall mission and goals of the institution in constant perspective.

The marketing communications plan for the University addresses these programmatic and resource issues. The long-term success of many of the institution’s initiatives may rest, in part, on our ability to communicate aggressively and comprehensively.  The University’s strengths and successes gain greater significance and produce more benefit when communicated effectively.


Marketing Communications Initiatives –

October 2004 – September 2005


These twelve initiatives, relating directly to the main missions of the University, will receive priority status in the planning and operations of the Office of Communications and Marketing and will be accomplished during the 2005 fiscal year:


·        Regional and National Recognition Initiative

·        Coordinate media placements, survey response and publication distribution to prominently position Auburn University on the regional and national stage


·        Student Communication Initiative

·        Assist and coordinate efforts with the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Management in communication with prospective students

·        Enhance communications with current students


·        Internal Communications Initiative

·        Provide timely and comprehensive information about the University to a variety of campus constituencies including faculty, staff and alumni


·        Community Service Initiative

·        Demonstrate value of the University to local and state-wide audiences


·        Legislative Initiative

·        Coordinate efforts with the Office of Governmental Relations to ensure Auburn’s key messages are communicated to the state legislature


·        Issues Management

·        Provide lead counsel and staffing to the University on communication strategies for crisis issues


·        Identity and Branding Initiative

·        Create and advocate for a consistent Auburn University identity through coordinated name, logotypes, seal and other graphics, language and images




·        Diversity Initiative

·        Provide leadership in promoting and publicizing Auburn’s commitment to diversity


·        Research and Outreach Initiative

·        Support and assist in defining and managing communications for and about University research and outreach


·        Sesquicentennial Celebration

·        Provide leadership in developing a year-long commemoration of the University’s 150th anniversary


·        Development Communications

·        Support the communications efforts related to the University’s capital campaign and other fundraising efforts


·        Campus Printing Initiative

·        Monitor and analyze the purchase and use of printing services by the campus with the goal of providing strategies for efficient and effective printed communications

















Regional and National Recognition Initiative


Auburn University’s reputation among its many constituencies is dependent on a variety of factors. The institution’s profile in the regional and national arena is affected by any number of variables – the scholarship and research of the faculty, the success of Auburn’s athletic teams or the latest ranking in U.S. News & World Report – all of which contribute to the overall perception of Auburn.

OCM addresses the issue of recognition on many levels. Through planned and concerted efforts in media relations, publications and electronic message distribution, marketing and advertising strategies, OCM works to provide the University with a steady flow of positive information to all of the institution’s influential constituencies.


Specific action items include:


Media Relations


  • The reorientation of the media relations efforts of the office is continuing. Last year, the emphasis on reactive, news release-based media work was replaced by a more focused and proactive approach to placing stories with local, regional and national news organizations. This method of media placement relies on pitching stories that relate to the mission and goals of the institution. Significant changes in media relations policy and procedure that have proven effective will be continued and refined.


  • OCM is developing and will institute the use of a web-based database tool that records all contacts and story placements with reporters and news organizations. This data will be used to analyze the media relations activity of the office, with attention to frequency and effectiveness of contact and appropriateness of placement relating to institutional goals.


  • Auburn University’s faculty and staff possess expertise that can be effectively utilized in promoting the institution. OCM maintains a searchable, web-based list of University experts who have indicated their willingness to work with journalists. Throughout the summer and early fall, OCM will conduct a “Faculty and Staff Sources” informational campaign targeting reporters and editors at newspapers and electronic media throughout the state.


  • OCM subscribes to “Profnet,” an electronic posting by reporters looking for experts for stories in progress. Careful review of this resource for opportunities to place Auburn experts is a priority for the media relations team, as is profiling Auburn faculty and submitting them to Profnet’s experts list.


  • In 2004, OCM, in collaboration with the Opelika-Auburn News, created a newspaper feature called “Ask Aubie.” Weekly columns are created to respond to questions posed by school children in the region, whose pictures appear in the column. Aubie answers the question with an assist from a member of Auburn’s faculty. The feature has been extraordinarily successful for both the paper and the University. Production will continue throughout the year.


  • Auburn University’s reputation can be significantly enhanced through the placement of guest editorials and op-ed pieces in specifically targeted newspapers. OCM will continue its op-ed campaign throughout the year.


  • Meetings between the University’s senior administrators and the editorial boards and key reporters of the state’s major newspapers will be scheduled as appropriate. At minimum, Auburn representatives should provide an update meeting to the editorial boards twice a year. 


  • Earlier this year, campus communicators, senior administrators and their support staff were given an extensive course in media training, media relations strategies and interview techniques. OCM staff will provide periodic updates and refresher courses to keep the training fresh and to ensure continued compliance with the campus’s media policies and procedures.


  • The office purchased and uses a comprehensive computerized media database that allows for a more targeted distribution of news releases. The list also permits the identification of key reporters and their specific beats at newspapers, magazines and trade publications across the country. Expanded use of this resource will provide campus communicators with accurate and appropriate media lists for their schools and units.


  • Auburn University is often the topic of news stories in statewide, regional and national newspapers. In order to keep the University community informed of the extent and content of these stories, OCM will continue to post clips to the website, linked through AUDaily and the University’s homepage. Senior staff members will also be provided with a faxed copy of the day’s news clips. This distribution enhances the University’s media relations effort by highlighting to faculty and staff the benefits of positive media placements.


  • Campus communicators from the University’s schools and units provide OCM with news releases and story ideas. In the past, these releases were sent out from the office with little consideration of whether there might be interest in the stories beyond the immediate area. The media relations team will review and analyze each news release and story idea with the goal of finding the widest and best distribution for the item.


  • Auburn University will host a CASE Media Fellowship in 2005. The fellowships are two- to four-day in-depth seminars for print, broadcast, and online journalists at CASE member institutions in the United States and abroad. CASE Media Fellowships provide an opportunity for reporters to tap into cutting-edge ideas and gain new perspectives, away from the daily pressures of the newsroom. OCM’s winning application will bring a journalist here for a presentation entitled “The War on Terrorism: Research Initiatives to Protect America.”


  • OCM initiated regular meetings for Auburn’s campus communicators group. Any member of the University staff involved in communications is invited. The typical agenda for the meetings include guest speakers, reports from the schools and colleges and updates on communications issues involving the campus.


  • The office provides video and broadcast services to the campus. OCM will produce news packages and event footage to secure more broadcast coverage. Additionally, broadcast services will produce documentary programs for use in recruitment, publicity and other information dissemination.


Publications and Electronic Message Distribution


  • The proliferation of college and university ranking publications has focused a significant spotlight on an institution’s accomplishments regarding many different types of performance criteria. From the preparation of the university’s compilation of data to the analysis of the draft copy from the Princeton Review, there is a significant marketing component to the way the University provides answers to the many surveys it receives. In order to effectively manage the institutional response to these requests, OCM will work in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Research to review all survey responses, thereby ensuring consistency and positive image enhancement.


  • U.S. News & World Report’s publication America’s Best Colleges has become the benchmark ranking mechanism for colleges and universities. The publication has been cited as a popular resource for prospective students and their parents when seeking information about college choices. The rankings are controversial and the magazine’s methodology has been broadly criticized. Nevertheless, the U.S. News rankings have become important to the public’s perception of a university’s reputation and quality. As the ranking is currently calculated, 25 percent of the score is derived from a reputational survey sent annually to the presidents, provosts, and admissions directors at more than 1300 colleges and universities nationwide.


In order to provide the survey’s respondents with background information on Auburn’s academic excellence and in an attempt to improve the results of the evaluation of the institution’s academic reputation, OCM will develop a series of three mailings to be sent throughout the year to those who receive the U.S. News peer assessment survey. The third of these mailings will be distributed just prior to the late March, early April mailing of the survey by U.S. News.


  • Auburn’s faculty and staff attend and present at a great number of academic and professional assemblies throughout the year. Their presence provides a substantial opportunity to publicize Auburn’s academic, outreach and research excellence. OCM will develop a small, easy to carry publication highlighting University facts, figures, and outstanding achievements. The brochure, know as “Timely Facts About Auburn,” will be made available in sufficient quantity to all schools and units for distribution as appropriate. Additionally, the brochure will also be produced in a large format, with more complete information on each of Auburn’s schools and colleges.


  • OCM produces, on an annual basis, a significant number of publications and brochures for campus-wide use. These include the campus parking map and regulations, the campus guide, a number of school-based magazines and commencement programs.


  • OCM continues to monitor and maintain more than 200 of the University’s webpages.


Other Efforts


  • Presentations by OCM staff members at regional and national conferences are encouraged. The office will also continue to submit samples of its work in peer-judged competitions because of the notoriety attached to winning entries. Staff members of the office are also encouraged to seek leadership roles in the professional organizations related to University communications and marketing.


Student Communication Initiative


Auburn University’s first commitment is to provide its students with an exemplary education. Part of the fulfillment of that commitment depends on the environment of the campus, and the sense of community that must be established in order for students to have a sense of belonging and engagement.

Two critical areas of student communication must be managed effectively in order to create a receptive and welcoming culture for Auburn students. The first communications challenge relates to admissions communications – telling prospective students and their parents about what Auburn offers. The second challenge lies in maintaining a continuing dialogue with those young people who choose to come to Auburn. Communication with Auburn students must provide information that has significant value to them, both individually and collectively. The messages to students must reflect Auburn’s high regard for them, but must also clearly relate the institutional values that make Auburn a unique community.


Admissions Communications


Enrollment management at Auburn University is a critical component of the University’s success.  The reputation of the institution rests, in part, on the quality of the students the University is able to attract and retain.  OCM needs to work collaboratively with the Office of Student Affairs on the brochures, printed materials and websites devoted to the admissions and enrollment management efforts.

The interdependence of content, design, distribution and documentation is critical to this endeavor.  Cooperative efforts among Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life, and OCM are essential if the University is to attract and keep the quantity and type of students for which the campus is known.

OCM will provide support to the University’s enrollment management efforts and assist in the communications and marketing messages to be utilized in the campus’s enrollment management plan.


Specific action items include:


·        In the interest of maintaining the image of the institution, OCM must work with the communicators at Admissions to develop and maintain consistent text, data and images that depict the strengths of the University to prospective students and their parents. This material must also be consistent with the language and images used throughout the institution, especially when schools and colleges are contacting prospective students individually. Inconsistency between the centralized admissions efforts and those of the schools must be avoided.


·        Cooperative production of all University enrollment-based marketing communications between Student Affairs and OCM will ensure content and graphic integrity.  This cooperative production will assist in ensuring that representations of schools and programs are complementary and distinctly branded as Auburn University. Admissions, yield enhancement and retention messages must be consistent throughout the institution, especially among key offices that interact with prospective students and assist in decision making.


·        OCM will provide Student Affairs and Admissions with advice and support relating to website development. Web development relating to the use of appropriate graphics and consistency of message are integral to admissions success. It is also vitally important that advances in database technology and website development be utilized to provide prospective students and parents with a sophisticated interactive experience. 


Communication with Students


  • In cooperation with the Division of Student Affairs and the Student Government Association, OCM has established a weekly electronic e-mail “CAmpUs Connection” that is sent to every student at Auburn. The news and informational items are gathered from a variety of sources and assembled in a digest form. This communications vehicle has proven to be very popular with students. In order to ensure the project remains fresh, a survey will be included in a mid-semester posting twice a year. Information received will be used to adapt the e-mail as appropriate.


·        OCM will continue to be a regular participant in Camp War Eagle and other opportunities to communicate with admitted students and their parents. It is important to provide students and parents with information about and access to the university’s communication vehicles. Participation in Camp War Eagle activities and communications will ensure consistency of message and language relating to the University.


·        The campus’s transportation system, Tiger Transit, provides the University with a variety of ways to communicate with students. OCM was responsible for the marketing plan for transit that included the redesign of the Tiger Transit brand as well as map production and distribution, and an advertising and communications campaign. An important component of the transit redesign was the ability to mount transit advertising posters on the side of all Tiger Transit vehicles. University cultural and sporting events have been promoted on the buses, and this service will continue. Additionally, a campaign that highlighted the Auburn Creed (drawn from the television commercial produced by OCM and used during football telecasts) was another successful use of transit advertising to communicate institutional values to students.


OCM will provide all Camp War Eagle participants with a Tiger Transit Rider’s Guide and a digital watch that includes the Tiger Transit logo and the phrase “Ride on Time.” The promotion of the use of transit is a key element in changing student’s perception about parking, driving and transit use.


Students who use Tiger Transit are on the buses for five to ten minutes for each trip. OCM is working with Dr. Richard Chapman in Computing Science to develop a wireless communication system in all Tiger Transit vehicles. The system will consist of an LED sign mounted in the front of the interior of the bus. Brief messages, created and controlled by OCM, will be sent via wireless technology to each bus, and will appear on the LED. The message content will be of interest to students, relating to academic deadlines, cultural events and athletic schedules and results.


·        A web-based University-wide events calendar was created by OCM last year. Usage by student groups and the Student Government Association needs to be expanded and refined. During the summer, the calendar’s format and performance will be evaluated, with any changes incorporated by the beginning of the fall semester.


·        In order to enhance the flow of information to students through the student newspaper, radio station and television station, OCM will schedule meetings with the senior staff of each news organization at the beginning of each semester.



Internal Communications Initiative


Auburn University’s community is made up of many different constituencies including faculty, staff, students, football fans and alumni. OCM is the primary source of information to the campus. Recent surveys indicate that individuals on campus are increasingly dependent on OCM for receiving news and information about Auburn. It is a vitally important administrative function to provide timely and accurate information to these audiences.

OCM will continue to refine and improve its information and communications services to Auburn University’s internal audiences.


Specific action items include:


  • OCM created AUDaily last year in an attempt to centralize e-mail-based news and information and reduce the number of broadcast e-mail messages being sent on campus. The effort was successful. Currently, information and news about the University reaches 97 percent of faculty and staff with e-mail addresses through AUDaily. Survey data also indicates that the format and content meet with overwhelming approval by its recipients. The office will continue to send AUDaily and will explore refinements to provide improved service to the campus.


  • The University’s faculty and staff newsletter, AU Report, was recently redesigned and its printing schedule was accelerated from once every two weeks to once a week during the academic year. This change was precipitated by the need to provide the faculty and staff with a more timely and attractive news package. AU Report will continue its increased printing schedule and will maintain its high standards for graphics and readability. OCM will expand the scope of the newsletter’s content, with an emphasis on more in-depth feature articles and an expanded number of opinion pieces by the University’s senior leadership.


  • As referenced in the section on student communications, OCM will continue to produce “CAmpUs Connections” for AU students.


  • The University’s web-based campus-wide calendar will be promoted to all members of the University community as the primary source for information regarding campus events.


  • OCM will expand its use of “Briefing Notes,” a one-page informational sheet for senior administrators. The service provides for the rapid dissemination of important information regarding issues or problems facing the University. The “Briefing Note” format contains first, a statement providing the institutional perspective on a particular matter and second, four or five key messages pertaining to the issue. The document also includes the name and contact information for the University spokesperson on the issue. Distribution of “Briefing Notes” to the University’s deans and vice presidents puts accurate information into the hands of administrators who need to know the institutional viewpoint and can quickly communicate that information to their staffs.


  • “AU in the News” was created last year to inform senior administrators of significant news clippings about Auburn and higher education. The fax service met with approval from senior staff, and has been cited as a useful tool in keeping up to date on Auburn’s profile in newspapers across the country. OCM will continue to refine the product and make improvements as necessary.


Because of the popularity of “AU in the News” a link to the web version is now included in each AUDaily mailing.  Auburn’s news coverage is available to the entire campus.


  • One of the University’s most important internal audiences is the more than 150,000 alumni who continue to have a great interest in the campus. In the recent past, most of the campus’s communication with alumni was through the Alumni Association, whose members represent a small segment of all living alumni. In order to provide the larger group of alumni with news and information from an administrative viewpoint, OCM created Auburn Commons, a presidential newsletter sent quarterly to the entire mailing list of alumni.


The Commons newsletter supplements Auburn Magazine, which is published by the Alumni Association. While the magazine focuses on stories and profiles of successful and influential alumni, the Commons spotlights events on campus, academic programs, faculty and students. The newsletter will continue to be published and mailed in January, April, July and October.


The success of the Commons led to the development and implementation of e-Commons, a web-based e-mail newsletter. The inaugural issue in May was sent to approximately 55,000 alumni with e-mail addresses. The intent of e-Commons is to increase the number of University contacts with alumni throughout the year without incurring cost. OCM will work with Alumni Affairs to produce e-Commons eight times a year -- May, June, August, September, November, December, February and March.


  • The tradition and excitement of an Auburn University Game Day is an important and eagerly anticipated event for scores of thousands of people. The image and public perception of the University are often greatly affected by the experiences people have when they come to Auburn for a football game. The significant logistical issues of such a large event must be dealt with effectively in order to ensure positive experiences for Auburn’s football fans. An important component of the planning for Game Day revolves around communications and public relations matters.


OCM will continue to take the lead in providing communications services and counsel to the Game Day Committee. These matters include website development and maintenance, writing, editing, printing and distributing the Guide to Game Day and being the University’s point of contact with the public and the news media for answering question about Game Day rules and regulations.


  • The Auburn Creed is a familiar and beloved touchstone for many generations of the Auburn faithful. Last year, OCM developed a major advertising and promotional campaign featuring the Auburn Creed. The campus’s television commercial that airs during regional and national football telecasts featured students, faculty and staff reciting the Creed. This campaign was specifically designed to underscore Auburn’s core values at a time of crisis for the institution. The theme was also presented to students through a transit advertising campaign utilizing Tiger Transit buses.


OCM will adapt and expand on the theme of the Creed in its advertising and promotion in the coming year.

Community Service Initiative


Auburn University significantly enhances life in Lee County and in the state of Alabama. It is a major employer in the area, contributes inestimably to the cultural life of the community and provides stabilization and growth potential to the local economy. The people who come to the area to work and study on the campus invigorate the community with diversity and vitality.  The University also provides an important contribution to the hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours spent in service to others in our region and state.

Frequently, the community tends to focus on the stresses and difficulties inherent in sharing space with a university.  OCM will work with other University offices and appropriate community and state organizations to ensure the University receives the publicity and recognition it has earned as a major contributor to the quality of life in the region.


Specific action items include:


  • OCM will develop and distribute a brochure highlighting the University’s many contributions to the state of Alabama.


  • The Auburn Chamber of Commerce provides the University with an excellent opportunity to reach the city’s business community. A staff member of OCM sits on the Board of Directors of the Chamber. Each month, the Board receives an update on events on campus and matters of mutual interest to the University and the Auburn business community. Items to be addressed in the coming months include the use of the Tiger Club Card, working to make the campus pedestrian friendly and the impact of road closures on the business community.


  • OCM will continue discussions with the Auburn-Opelika Convention and Visitor’s Bureau regarding a joint effort to provide visitor information at a downtown Auburn location.


  • A clear understanding of the relationship between the University and the City of Auburn is necessary if OCM is to be responsive to opportunities for cooperative efforts between the two entities. In order to appreciate the issues that face the City, a member of the OCM staff will attend all City Council meetings to observe and report back on areas of mutual concern.


  • OCM will reinvigorate the University speaker's bureau. Many opportunities exist for the University to tell its story to the community. Through the reestablishment and promotion of the Speaker’s Bureau, Auburn faculty and administrators can be scheduled to speak before civic and service groups. This “grass roots” approach to public outreach also provides ample opportunity for building relationships among University representatives and community leaders.


OCM will prepare collateral material focusing on AU’s mission, strengths and service initiatives for University speakers, including videotape, DVD and PowerPoint programs that can be easily transported and used to augment presentations to civic groups.


  • As part of a cooperative effort with the City of Auburn and the AU Athletics Department, OCM will develop a plan for the presence of pole banners in areas throughout the campus and the City. Banners provide the University with the opportunity to promote events and to provide a festive and colorful “sense of place” of the campus. Possible events appropriate to the hanging of the banners include welcoming new students, Camp War Eagle, or significant athletic events.


  • Civic groups and fraternal organizations provide an important platform for positive messages about the University. Membership in a variety of local service and civic groups on the part of OCM staff members is seen as a positive and appropriate venue for engaging the leadership of the local community.


Legislative Initiative


Auburn University is the largest institution of higher education in the state of Alabama. Its programs and outreach efforts touch every corner of the state, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that every Alabamian has received, at one time or another, a tangible benefit from the work and research that takes place at Auburn.

Despite this, Auburn’s value to the state is not always clearly understood by the members of the executive and legislative branches of the state government. Auburn has not focused a great deal of attention on working with the legislature to create an appreciation for the University’s contributions to the people of the state. Additionally, Auburn has not consistently presented the legislature with a prioritized strategy for the funding of specific initiatives or programs. Like many other state universities, Auburn’s approach to the legislature has been sporadic and extremely decentralized.

If Auburn is to be successful in Montgomery, it is vitally important that legislators understand the significant contribution the University makes to the state. Prior to the University asking for funding, it is important for legislators to know that Auburn is a good steward of the state’s dollars, and that money for AU is funding for the state’s greater good.

OCM will create and implement an informational campaign directed toward the state legislature. The cornerstone of the campaign will be “AU Day in Montgomery,” a day-long event of informational visits to legislative offices, culminating in an evening reception for legislators and their staffs. The day, if successful, will become an annual event on Auburn’s legislative calendar.


Specific action items include:


  • An interdisciplinary project team, including staff members of OCM, Governmental Relations, the President’s Office, Alumni Affairs, Parking and Transit, and Student Affairs will be charged with creating the event and organizing the effort.


  • Collateral materials, such as invitations, brochures, CDs, appropriate gift items will be developed for the event.


Issues Management


University officials and administrators across the country are increasingly being drawn into very public discussions of issues and problems on campus.  The combination of energetic news organizations, a public expectation of disclosure, active students and frequently politicized issues can produce a public relations debacle for institutions.

Whether the issue is the source of manufacture of University merchandise, myriad discussions surrounding diversity and its effect on the University community or crime on campus, Auburn University needs to be seen as a responsive organization.  OCM provides strategic counsel regarding impact assessment, audience identification, and message development and distribution.  Key OCM personnel are available at all times to work with University administrators and departments to provide communications expertise to issues management and response.


Specific action items include:


  • OCM will lead the effort to establish a Crisis Response Team (CRT.) This team of administrators, representing Public Safety, the President’s Office, General Counsel and OCM, will be the “first response” team in the event of any crisis that threatens the security or reputation of the campus. Working in conjunction with the University’s Office of Risk Management and Safety, the CRT will ensure the University’s Disaster and Crisis Plan is up to date and effective. Additionally, the CRT will organize and brief “second-tier” experts, who will be called upon for their expertise in response to specific crises.


  • As referenced earlier, OCM will expand its use of “Briefing Notes,” the one-page informational sheet for senior administrators. This service provides for the rapid dissemination of important information regarding issues or problems facing the University. In a time of crisis, it is vitally important that the campus’s senior administrative team be aware of and conversant with the University’s viewpoint and key messages. Use of “Briefing Notes” places timely and accurate information into the hands of people who most need to have appropriate material to pass on to their staffs.


  • A Crisis Communications Plan specific to the internal operations of OCM will be developed and implemented. Addressing issues such as staff availability, locations for large-scale media events and the office’s general preparedness for crisis communication, the plan will be specific in its level of detail, while at the same time provide sufficient flexibility for a wide range of applications. OCM’s ability to reach audiences quickly and to disseminate accurate information means it is imperative that the office play the pivotal role in this initiative.


  • Requests for information through the Freedom of Information Act or the state’s public record law can provide insight into areas of probable controversy in the future. Working with the Office of the General Counsel, OCM will review and analyze requests for any indication of potential matters of crisis.


  • OCM will provide counsel during policy and programmatic deliberations by University administration and officials to encourage understanding of the potential public relations implications of decisions.





Identity and Branding Initiative


            Auburn University is an active and productive organization. Its schools and colleges, programs and projects, offices and departments all take pride in their work, mission and identity. At the same time, the University is also tremendously decentralized, and the work, mission and identity of its diverse parts are neither necessarily coordinated nor complementary. Nowhere is this clearer than in the disparate home pages for the websites of Auburn’s schools and colleges. All of the pages employ distinctly different fonts, colors and nomenclature. A number of schools and colleges have developed logos that either do not incorporate, or incorporate incorrectly, existing Auburn University marks. One of the colleges employs a home page that does not identify it as having any relationship whatsoever with Auburn University.

At colleges and universities across the United States, efforts are being taken to bring the control of the institutional identity under the supervision of a single unit, usually within the external affairs or communications area. A strong, consistent image is an essential component of any institution’s strategic direction and communications policy.  Universities that are successful in crafting and preserving identity enjoy a substantial competitive advantage in public relations and promotional activities.  Successful branding reflects not only a consistent graphic image, but also reinforces and reflects the core values of an institution.

Auburn University continues to be decentralized in a number of areas, but especially in the realm of communications.  Desktop publishing, ease of website development and communications staff housed in discrete units of the institution all encourages independence in communication. Unfortunately, the convenience of these communication technologies and personnel is instrumental in the deterioration of the Auburn brand, nomenclature and message.  It is imperative that OCM be positioned and empowered to provide clear guidance to the entire University community in these crucial matters.


Specific action items include:


  • OCM will continue to organize and host meetings of the University’s Campus Communicators group throughout the year. These meetings provide communicators with a forum to discuss marketing and communications on the campus. These meetings also foster a sense of interrelated goals and common approaches to the University’s communications issues.


  • Prior to the adoption of an integrated brand identity, OCM will provide guidelines for voluntary compliance of graphics standards in publications, web pages and other marketing-oriented materials.


  • OCM will make recommendations to the President’s office regarding a graphics standard and integrated brand identity for Auburn University.  OCM strongly urges the campus to adopt an integrated brand identity.


  • The integrated identity effort will provide the campus with comprehensive communications and visual identity manuals, or “style guides” governing how the University represents itself in written and graphic materials.


  • OCM will work with the University’s schools, colleges, programs, and units to assist in understanding and implementing the integrated brand identity.






Diversity Initiative


Auburn University’s explicit commitment to the mission and activities of the Multicultural Diversity Committee will provide the University with significant opportunities to reflect diversity in its communications and marketing strategies.

Two approaches to diversity communications are needed in order to bring this core University value to the attention of the campus community and the University’s external constituencies. The first strategy provides the community with information about the MDC and the University’s ongoing commitment to the mission, goals and activities of that group and its related allies on the campus. The second approach is more fundamental. Diversity, as it is experienced on the Auburn University campus, should be reflected in the use of inclusive language, photography and images in all University brochures, releases and web pages.


Specific action items will include:


  • OCM will review current University communications vehicles to ensure an appropriate global and inclusive perspective is present in terms of content, graphics and images.


  • New publications and communications should present an accurate and consistent depiction of the University’s commitment to diversity. In order to provide guidance to campus communicators who need to have their materials reflect inclusion and diversity, OCM will develop a campus-wide diversity communication strategy.


  • It is important to indicate to the University’s many audiences that the institutional commitment to diversity has support throughout the organization. When appropriate, articles or messages from the President will be drafted to include statements relating to Auburn’s dedication to providing an inclusive, civil and diverse environment for everyone who comes to the campus. An OCM staff member will be assigned to sit on the MDC.


  • OCM will produce a brochure that will focus on the successes and benefits of the University’s adherence to the principles of diversity and multiculturalism.



Research and Outreach Initiative


            Auburn University remains committed to its land grant mission and to bringing the people of the state of Alabama the best of its ideas, innovations and discovery.


  • OCM will work with communicators in the areas of outreach and research to better identify important and newsworthy items for story development and for pitching to news organizations.


  • In order to find a wide audience for stories about Auburn University research initiatives, OCM will develop national science media lists and will cultivate contacts among appropriate science and research writers at newspapers and magazines across the country.


  • Working in conjunction with Research Communication in the Office of the Vice President for Research, OCM will solicit ideas for stories about Auburn University research and researchers for inclusion in the Auburn Commons newsletter, both print and electronic versions. Auburn alumni are an important audience for information about the significant work underway on the campus.


  • OCM will assign a writer to work extensively on feature-length stories about the University’s many research and outreach initiatives and the faculty members who work on them. Production of these stories will allow the staff to find multiple uses for the information, including internal and external printed newsletters, e-newsletters, news releases and website publication.










Sesquicentennial Celebration


            Auburn University’s 150th anniversary provides the institution with an important occasion to celebrate its past and reflect on its role in the future. OCM will coordinate the University’s observance of the Sesquicentennial Year.


Specific action items include:


  • Working in conjunction with the President’s Office, the deans and vice presidents, OCM will create a Sesquicentennial Planning Calendar for the year of the 150th anniversary observances. All events regularly planned for the campus that year will be examined for potential value as a Sesquicentennial event and will be marketed appropriately.


  • OCM will develop a distinctive word mark or logo to be used in conjunction with Sesquicentennial activities and publications.


  • The University will sponsor a signature affair, such as a black tie dinner, as the culminating event of a year of lectures, performances, concerts and other appropriate observances of the University’s 150th anniversary


  • OCM will produce a 100-130 page book featuring approximately 150 artistic photographs of the campus as it appears in the sesquicentennial year. The last such “Auburn photograph” book was produced in the late 1980’s and is still being marketed in the University Bookstore. The book will be used as a commemoration of the Sesquicentennial Celebration.


  • OCM will develop a distinctive logo, type treatment or other graphic element to identify and symbolize the Sesquicentennial Celebration.


  • During the Sesquicentennial year, pole banners commemorating the 150th anniversary will be situated throughout the campus, alerting both visitors and members of the AU community to the significance of the observance.

Development Communications


            The University’s Capital Campaign, currently in its quiet phase, has begun important preparation for its public announcement and roll-out. OCM will assist the Development Staff in the production of printed materials, web pages and other collateral materials for the Campaign.


Specific action items include:


·        OCM will assist the Development office  in the production of the school, college and unit-based case statements. These materials will be complementary to the Case Statement, which was developed as a joint effort by an agency, OCM and Development Communications.


·        OCM will assist in the writing and coordination of news releases related to fundraising in general and significant campaign contribution in particular.


·        Planning will soon begin for both a print and electronic Campaign newsletter. OCM will assist in the planning, design and writing of the two projects.


·        A representative of the OCM staff will be assigned to be the liaison to Development office and will provide advice and counsel on Campaign communications projects.

Campus Printing Initiative


            Auburn University’s decentralized communications environment unfortunately provides opportunity for printed matter to be produced at every level of the institution. The implications of this lack of centralized control are numerous and include: the proliferation of logos and graphic representations that do not reflect the identity and values of Auburn University; poor quality printing, writing, and design; unnecessary and non-strategic publications; and finally, the waste of resources.

            OCM has recently begun to monitor the use of printing services by the campus community. Continued vigilance by the office will help to ensure better compliance of content and graphic guidelines, timely reporting of actual dollars spent on printing and improved stewardship of resources by eliminating redundant or unnecessary materials. OCM will also continue to look for economies of scale by promoting shared purchase of printing services.


Specific action items include:


  • OCM will continue to monitor the activity of the specific budget codes assigned to printing and will issue quarterly reports on revenue expended by campus units.


  • OCM Designers and creative staff will work with schools, colleges and programs to ensure that the printed materials being produced reflect the best in content, design and production values.


  • All University publications are expected to meet  minimum standards: 1) the name “Auburn University” should be prominent on the cover of the publication; 2) any logo used in the publication should be one of those approved by the University; 3) colors used in the publication should be appropriate to Auburn University; 4) when appropriate, a statement reflecting the University’s non-discrimination policy should appear on the publication; and 5) if possible, the URL for the University’s webpage should also appear on the publication. OCM will continue to monitor all campus publications for these minimum standards until the adoption of a complete graphic standard for the entire campus.


  • OCM will work with purchasing and local print vendors to encourage good pricing and high quality in the purchase of printing services.


  • The office will monitor and process requests for business cards, letterhead, and envelopes, promoting consistency and efficiency.


  • Many campus units are unaware of the complexities and potential pitfalls in buying printing services. OCM will provide advice on finding the right vendor and the right price for projects.