Arnold Thiebaud and Jed Rhien discussing a communication project.

Every semester, hundreds of messages are shared on campus with the goal to reach the same audience—BYU-Idaho students. With so many messages competing for our students’ attention, President’s Executive Group (PEG) decided last spring that something needed to be done to prioritize university communications.

One thing that caught the attention of PEG was the volume of messages that were non-academic. While there are clearly many important non-academic messages, PEG has placed a focus on helping students succeed and progress from semester to semester in their academic careers. They asked University Relations to examine how a centralized approach to marketing and communication combined with clear institutional priorities might change the mix of messages students receive.

In an effort to put this directive into action, the consolidated university communication team has started to apply an institutional strategy to every campus-wide communication request—all in an effort to improve the effectiveness of its communications.

Now, each campus-wide message is sent to a strategy team within University Relations that consists of four full-time employees. Each member of the strategy team works directly with a university vice president with the goal of prioritizing the messages from their respective areas. This change allows for the prioritization of all university communications and ensures that the messages being distributed are a profitable use of the university’s resources. More importantly, however, is that the consolidation efforts are focused on devoting tools and processes to get the right information to the right people at the right time. 

This new communication process is not implying that there are “unimportant” messages. On the contrary, it makes every message more effective by putting a strategy behind it to guarantee that the most important messages for a student’s well-being receive the attention it needs.

“The messages that have access to the most resources tend to get the most attention. In some cases, those are not the messages that are most critical to a student’s ability to stay at the university and be effective in their academic pursuits,” said University Communications Director Kirk Rawlins. “At the end of the day, if a student is not understanding how to choose a major and get a grad plan, then somehow we failed students by not helping that message get the attention it needs.”

Although the new communication process was implemented at the beginning of the fall semester, it is still a work in progress. As University Relations receives counsel, feedback, and suggestions, it plans to make any adjustments as needed.

“There are a lot of details that are yet to be determined,” Rawlins said. “We are in the process right now of going out and meeting with every managing director or dean’s council. We’re going to talk to them about this and get their feedback and try to understand how we can best work with them.” 

President’s Council is supportive of the communication consolidation and believes it will be beneficial to the university and its students.

“In all the things that I’ve been involved in at the university—and I’ve been here for 12 years—this is the one that has had the most clear and unified support across the leadership of the university,” Rawlins said. “It’s very clear that all the vice presidents are supportive of this. It’s very clear that they want to see this succeed. There is a great commitment to this effort and to making it work in the way that will bless students.”