Director of Communications
College of Education and Health Professions
Heidi Wells formerly worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for The Morning News in Springdale and the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway.
The director of communications in the College of Education and Health Professions offers assistance with several tools for communicating with various audiences including students, staff, faculty, alumni and the general public. Descriptions and information about these tools are listed below. These guidelines and processes have been put in place to ensure quality control and to handle the volume of requests for assistance.
This may be more information than you want in some cases and not enough in others. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me or drop by my office with questions.
Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
302 Graduate Education Building
479-575-3138, 479-879-8760, email@example.com
- Consider me your go-between for the office of University Relations, which provides editing, design and photography services at no cost. As a partner in their office, I have a working relationship with them and can help the publicity process run smoothly. Have one person in your office serve as point of contact with me. Give me a heads-up as early as possible that you will need assistance on a project or event, but don’t expect me to start working on it until all details have been finalized.
- There are several ways that I can help you publicize an event in advance, get media coverage of an event, your research, other projects and accomplishments or pitch a story idea to the media. Keep in mind, however, that the media can choose what stories they want to cover and will never promise or guarantee coverage of something.
- We will have a much better chance of getting media attention if your item is of interest to the general public and not overly technical. If you need to publicize something that targets a particular segment of the population, the most effective way is usually by going through professional organizations or e-mail list-serves that you supply. I can still help with the writing when you use these other methods.
- Give me as much advance notice as possible. This helps me balance coverage among all our departments and also allows University Relations to schedule our news release when it will not be crowded out by others from around campus. There is an editing and posting process for news releases required by University Relations that will add two to three days to the preparation process.
- If you request a news release or a media pitch or agree to be pitched as an expert source, be prepared to respond to media inquiries as soon as you get them. Most times when a newspaper or television reporter calls, they are on deadline and need information that day; television stations routinely call with just a few hours before they need someone on air. We can schedule releases for the most convenient time for you to respond.
- Think about visuals to illustrate your story. Virtually all media outlets will want images to accompany coverage.
- I write using a set of style guidelines developed by University Relations that is available on their Web site at http://styleguides.uark.edu/. These guidelines include the writing style rules published by The Associated Press as well as other guidelines specific to the University of Arkansas.
- Jargon specific to any discipline should be avoided because it will discourage someone not familiar with it from reading further. Acronyms also should be avoided unless they are ones everyone would know such as FBI or CIA.
- Depending on the nature of your item, it may be appropriate to use several of the vehicles below to publicize it.
Arkansas News and Newswire email
Arkansas Newswire is an email sent daily to all students, staff and faculty, media and some stakeholders. The email is made up of links to the News website linked from the University of Arkansas home page. Send me information at least one week before you want it to run. It does not need to be in finished form. You can send me a bullet list of details or links to where I can find information, for example. I’ll ask you questions if I need to fill in any details. Please send me a picture to go with the news item.
All faculty members, staff members and students are also free to submit items themselves to Newswire. Go to this link http://news.uark.edu/ and click on Submit News in the bottom of the left column. Items submitted before noon will generally be posted the next day or you can specify a later date. I will edit your piece if you want but would like a couple of days’ notice.
Faculty and staff members can increase awareness of Newswire by telling students about information available there such as student research competitions, leadership opportunities and entertainment.
The office of University Relations distributes news releases by posting links on the UA home page under the News header and emailing the releases to media outlets. Links to the releases appear in the Arkansas Newswire daily e-mail that goes to everyone on campus. University Relations can send releases to local, state, regional and national media as requested. Certain criteria must be met to merit a news release. Basically, the topic must be something of interest to the general public. Releases are generally one to two pages long in Microsoft Word and include quotes from sources. Links to releases generally appear on the university’s home page for one to three days. I frequently follow up news releases by submitting shorter items to newspapers’ local, business and education sections where briefs appear.
Please give me at least two weeks’ notice when requesting a news release. After I write a draft and you review it, I submit it for editing so this process can add a couple days to the preparation time. University Relations keeps a master calendar and schedules releases so that we don’t end up putting out more per day than the media can handle. Media outlets choose which news to cover so sending a news release does not guarantee coverage. However, the information posted online is available for anyone with an Internet connection to access from anywhere in the world.
University Relations also has science and research writers who cover the university.
Colleague is an online news magazine about the college. It was printed from 2006 through 2013 and distributed on campus and mailed to state legislators, other government officials, leaders in the education and health fields, other educators such as state superintendents, peer institutions, benefactors and selected alumni.
Beginning in 2014, we stopped printing the magazine but continue to maintain the Colleague e-magazine online and send an e-magazine update by email periodically to the people specified above. Most stories published on Newswire are also published on the Colleague site. I welcome suggestions for story ideas.
The e-magazine update is sent to about 13,000 people including alumni for whom the Arkansas Alumni Association has e-mail addresses. I also welcome your additions of names to the magazine’s email list.
The university has strict guidelines for use of logos, and that information and downloads can be found at http://logo.uark.edu/. If you need files of logos specific to our college, contact me. Logos cannot be modified in any way, and units cannot create their own logos.
While it is easy to copy or download a photograph from a website for use on another website or publication, do not use photos obtained this way unless you took the picture yourself or have expressed permission from the person who took it.
Freedom of Information Act requests
I am the college’s FOI coordinator. If you receive a request for information that is not already available online or in another format from your area, notify me immediately. The request does not have to say it is being made under the FOI law and it does not have to be made in writing. Do not respond, even to tell someone you will get back to them. Once you have contacted me, I’ll work with University Relations to respond in accordance with the law.
Digital message boards
The college operates 17 digital message boards that are located in the Graduate Education Building, Peabody Hall, the HPER Building, the UREC Fitness Center in the Arkansas Union, and the Epley Center for Health Professions. Programming can be directed to specific boards. This is different from the past when all the boards ran the same programming. A primary purpose of these boards is to communicate information to students as well as to inform faculty members, staff members and the public about events and programs of the college.
Please submit an item to me at least one week before you would like it to start running. You may submit information in the body of an email, in a Word file or PowerPoint. JPG images are also welcome, but PDFs are difficult to work with when the information needs to be formatted to fit the custom slide we use on the message boards. I can send you the custom-size PowerPoint slide we use for the boards for you to create the slide yourself, but keep it simple since people are glancing as they go by and typically not standing still reading the boards.
I can also request that slides run on message boards operated by RIBTV in the Arkansas Union, Mullins Library, Walton College of Business buildings, College of Engineering buildings, the Global campus in Fayetteville and Rogers, and Old Main.
Please contact me or Bart Cohen’s office if you see a board that is malfunctioning such as being stuck on one slide.
U of A/college calendar of events
You may submit items to the university calendar at the following link: http://calendars.uark.edu/EventList.aspx?fromdate=1/15/2016&todate=1/15/2016&display=Day&view=DateTime. This is the More Events link on the U of A home page.
Choose Submit Events in the upper right corner, and a screen for you to submit your information will come up. If you want me to submit an item for you, please give me one week’s notice before you want it to run.
Links to items from the U of A calendar also appear on the COEHP home page along the left side under Events.
Sometimes, simply contacting a reporter and offering a story idea with some background and contact information is more effective than writing a formal news release. With assistance from University Relations, I can make pitches to regional and national media outlets or specialized publications that you may identify. If you are scheduled to be interviewed, I can sit down with you and ask questions you’re likely to be asked in order to help you feel more comfortable. Keep in mind reporters do not allow a source to preview an article before publication except in rare cases as when explaining something very technical such as brain surgery.
We often follow up a news release about an upcoming event with a media advisory that lists the who, what, where, when and why in a bulleted list format. These serve as a reminder and invitation for coverage and can also be sent in place of a news release.
This is an internal e-mail sent regularly to faculty and staff members of the College of Education and Health Professions. It has links to media reports about the college and its people as well as news releases and articles posted on Arkansas News and the Colleague sites. It also contains some links to announcements and media coverage that affect the entire campus. It was formerly called Compass Points.
The college maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Please consider engaging on these sites by liking, commenting and sharing posts as well as sending suggestions for posts, including photographs, to me.
Departments, programs and units are free to maintain their own social media accounts. University Relations provides social media guidelines and I will also help if I can. Let me know if you establish an account and I’ll follow you from the college’s accounts.
The college website contains primarily academic information. Every academic department has at least one person trained to make content updates. Contact me or them with updates. Let us know if you see out-of-date or incorrect information on the site, even if it is not on a page in your program. We also welcome photographs to use on pages.
Faculty and staff online bio pages
Last summer, University Relations began launching pages on the college’s redesigned website using Omni Update, the new content management system adopted by the university. One of the changes that came with this new system was the way that faculty and staff bio pages are updated. You have the responsibility and access to maintain the information on your own page. In addition to the all-college directory, we have separate directory pages for departments, administrative areas and programs.
First, you can make changes to the basic details such as office room number, phone number and email address through Web Basis.
Second, you can log into a site called Campus Web Data to edit your profile. You can put in your degrees, social media links, publications, courses you teach, research interests, professional experience, honors and awards. You can also upload your photo and your CV.
You can have your photograph taken by the University Relations photography staff during open studio hours from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The photo studio is in Davis Hall on the northeast corner of Garland and Maple. You do not need to make an appointment if you go during the open studio hours.
Print brochures, posters, postcards, banners
I will work with designers and photographers at University Relations to help you when you need print pieces. Photography services are available free from University Relations, and I can also help you hire a free-lance photographer. My help usually takes the form of writing text, editing and proofing. You pay for the printing itself.
Some questions to consider when planning a print piece include: How many do I need? How will it be distributed? Who is the target audience? What is the response or action I want from the target audience?
Once the planning for a piece is finished and all the text and photos gathered, allow two to three weeks for design and 15 working days for printing.
Radio and TV
University Relations has a person on staff who assists with broadcast media. He can pitch ideas and people for news broadcasts. KUAF will usually air PSAs for free but you can also purchase PSAs for guaranteed airtime.
Sending a broadcast email to the college’s entire student body can be arranged if guidelines in the college’s email blast policy are met. Contact me if your message fits the criteria described below. You can also request a message be sent to all of the college’s faculty and staff. These audiences can also be segmented in certain ways such as by major or job classification.
- Email messages for mass distribution to students must be determined to have a considerable impact upon the vast majority of the college’s students. The value of such email use must be balanced against the risk of diluting the attention given to such messages as well as the desire to avoid contributing to what is considered spam by some recipients.
- Based on these guidelines, the use of mass email to students is limited to exceptionally rare instances. Messages of a noncritical nature or having alternative forms of delivery – to include promotional announcements for events and meetings, news-of-record, and routine procedural or administrative updates – are not approved for mass email delivery and should be conveyed via other means, such as Newswire.
- When considering whether to request a mass email to the college’s student body, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the message have a considerable impact upon the vast majority of the college community?
An example of a message with potential impact on the majority of students is one that announces collegewide scholarship deadlines. An example of a message unlikely to have an impact on the majority of students is a speaker giving a lecture on a topic specific to one program or concentration.
- Will students be more likely to pay attention to an email if it comes from a particular faculty member they know than from a generic college email address?
The Blackboard and UAConnect systems allow faculty members to send emails to all the students enrolled in particular courses. Asking faculty members who teach in certain disciplines to send emails to their students about a topic relevant to the course increases the likelihood the email will be read.
- What alternative methods of communicating with students exist?
The methods of communicating with students include Newswire, digital message boards, and the college website including UA calendar feed. You may also narrow your broadcast email request to a particular segment of students most likely to be interested in the topic; for example, upperclass community health promotion students.
Broadcast email to alumni
The Arkansas Alumni Association will also send broadcast emails to alumni of your program. They request one week’s notice before they send the email so I’ll need additional time before that if you need my help preparing the message.
Hometown news releases
There are times that we ask students and other participants of college activities to fill out hometown news releases. I can supply the form for you. I compile the information and submit it to University Relations to be sent to the newspaper specified by the students. Again, we can’t guarantee to the students that the newspapers will publish the information but many do, especially the smaller papers.
Here are some tips I borrowed (thank you, Arkansas Alumni Association) and modified for our use.
- Have all of the details for an event finalized before requesting communications (but give me a heads-up as early as you can that you will need help)
- Consolidate all of your edits at one time
- Check the facts before handing them over
- Use me (and University Relations) as advisers for audience, media to use, frequency, etc.
- Respond quickly when proofs are sent to you even if it’s just to say it looks fine or that you will respond with edits within a specific time frame
- Make sure someone is proofreading everything
- Copy the inspiration of a communications piece you like, not just the final product
- Answer questions even if they seem silly; we’re asking for a reason
- Meet deadlines; not doing so can delay your project/request
- Supply links that you would like used in electronic communications
- Wait until the last minute
- Assume that all changes are quick and easy
- Ask us to make something “flashy” or “pretty.” What does that mean? Give details.
- Use low-resolution (or small file size) photos or logos
- Catch me in the hallway and request a communications project
- Expect me to pull content out of a hat
- Expect me to drop everything to help you immediately
- Assume I can read your mind
- Use ASAP as a requested date. No official date means no communication.
- Ask us to use copyrighted material or images
- Have multiple people serve as point of contact. Use one person for all communication projects.
M.A., University of Arkansas, journalism, 2013
B.A., University of Arkansas, journalism, 1988