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Speakers in the video spotlight at #EUPRIO2018

With the focus on the digital transformation of university communications at EUPRIO’s annual conference this year in Sevilla, we’ve made a series of short youtube video interviews in which EUPRIO’s blogger-in-chief Nic Mitchell talks to some of the speakers and participants about the challenges of digital communications.

Drag university communications into the 21stcentury

Gerry McGovern’s opening keynote speech had #EUPRIO2018 participants jumping on to social media to applaud his hard-hitting criticism of the backwardness of higher education communications.

In our interview, Gerry expresses some surprise at his warm welcome from university communication professionals, but said “comms people know the challenges” and that the problem is the hierarchical nature of university organisations and the reluctance to embrace change.

Hear why he thinks communicators should build up evidence to convince their bosses of the best way forward and how they should make more use of current students (customers) to paint a real picture on what it is like to study at your university, with those having a bad experience giving credence to the positive comments that tend to dominate current university digital communications.

 EUPRIO’s new mobility programme

Philip Graham, Head of Internal Communications at the University of Edinburgh, helped to lead the first EUPRIO Mobility Programme, or EMP, with Xander Bronkhorst, a journalist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Caroline de Vries, senior communications advisor at the NHL Stenden University of Applied Science, also in the Netherlands.

The project’s aim was to share best practice to improve the way universities communicate with international students, both before they arrive and while they are on campus. See what Philip told us.

Be bold and brave

Emma Gilmartin is head of social media at Glasgow University, which has blazed a trail in effectively using the digital transformation of university communications to boost its profile in the United Kingdom!

Emma tells us why it is so important to have strong support from the top of the university and why you need to invest in the best people to produce great content in-house and to target your communications with precision at different key audiences.

“Be less conservative. We have amazing stories to tell. Be bold and brave,” Emma tell us.

Working closely with IT

Working with IT can be a source of friction, especially when comms and IT people seem to be speaking different languages.

But Husselt University in Belgium is a model to the benefits of ever-closer relations between the communication and marketing team and the IT department.

To find out what this can achieve, Nic talked to marketing coordinator Sarah Timmermans and Marleen Jehaes, head of software development in the IT department, who explained that cooperation and goodwill on both sides is the best way to put new digital ideas into practice and improve communications with students and other target audiences.

Don’t panic over GDPR

Despite having nearly two years to prepare, Europe’s new GDPR data protection law saw a last minute scramble by many to try to comply with the legislation, which aims to protect European citizens from the kinds of data breaches highlighted by the Cambridge Analytics affair and micro-targeting of voters in recent elections.

Kristina Kardum, from the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for communications, explained how universities should react to GDPR and the importance of communicating in plain language how institutions intend to use the data they hold on individuals for marketing and other purposes. See what she had to say and why researchers may be exempt from some of the requirements of the new law.

Digital toolkit for new European university

Julie Backer from Norway’s new Oslo Metropolitan University, or OsloMet, tells us how they have used their new status as a launching pad to provide academics and other colleagues with the digital tools to communicate professionally with the media, potential students and other audiences without always needing to rely on the comms department.

Julie explains how the digital toolkit has replaced the dusty old communication strategy and helped to make colleagues across the university more confident in talking to the outside world.

Be human when it comes to social media

“Use common sense and don’t be too afraid”. That’s the advice from Herwig Dämon from the University of Liechtenstein, when considering how universities should use social media to achieve internal communication goals.

He believes too many universities fear social media and suggests they try to be more human in their communications. If a student criticises something about the university, say the accommodation, let other students with a more positive experience have their say. Be open and stand back, apart from having a moderator role, in such internal communications and remember enrolled students are your best ambassadors. Find out what else Herwig has to say.

Using data effectively

Vincenzo Maltese from the University of Trento spoke to us about the need for universities to make better use of data, especially in the era of GDPR legislation.

Hear what he has to say about how to effectively govern, trust and value university data and why universities need to use it for common purposes and not just to satisfy the requirements of different departments.

See the EUPRIO YouTube playlist or click below to see all the interviews, starting with Julie Backer of OsloMet.