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Upcoming programs - Summer 2014

Find more details and register on the events page. Miss a program? Find info and recordings when available on past programs.

Regularly scheduled Communicators Forum programs will begin in September.

Interested in shaping monthly programming for communicators? Contact Holly Santiago ( and Laura Krueger Vitko ( to get involved in the Programs Committee.

Monthly Mixer
Thursday, July 10, 3:30-5:30 p.m. - Campus Club, Coffman Union

There's no formal program, just networking, and you don't need to be a Communicators Forum or Campus Club member to attend. Nachos provided, drinks on your own. Drawing at 4:45 p.m. to be entered to win free lunch at the Campus Club. RSVP here.

Events Circle Brown Bag Networking Lunches
We have this summer's Events Circle Brown Bags all lined up. If you plan an event (or two or ten...) as part of your job, you are welcome to this brown bag lunch, filled with informal discussion, idea generation and networking. No RSVP required.

  • Tuesday, July 15, 12-1 p.m. - 125 Coffey Hall (St. Paul)
  • Thursday, August 7, 12-1 p.m. - 100 Murphy Hall (East Bank)

Events Circle Presents: Muse Event Center Site Visit
Wednesday, July 16, 4-6 p.m. - Muse Event Center (107 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis)

You're invited to an exclusive open house to tour and experience the newest event space in Minneapolis: Muse Event CenterCRAVE Catering (Muse's exclusive caterer) will offer food and beverages. Plus, learn about on-campus catering options from CRAVE Catering.

Transportation is on your own. There is meter parking available with paid lots nearby. RSVP here.

To connect with fellow event planners and stay up-to-date on the Events Circle, join the Event Circle Google Group.

Maroon & Gold Awards 2014

This year, from a record number of entries, we gave 34 Maroon & Gold awards for excellence in communications at our member appreciation party. At that event, we also recognized two Communicators Forum volunteers, Echo Martin and Lindsay Bork, who went the extra mile.

A full list of winners is posted on the Communicators Forum website.

Do you want to be one of those who recognize the best work produced at the U next year? Join the awards committee by contacting 2014-15 chairs Echo Martin ( and JoAnne Makela (

Annual Conference--it's a wrap!

This year's conference broke registration records and transcended the everyday with three innovative keynotes. While we know there were a couple of hiccups...lunch...we hope that those who attended this year were able to grow and thrive in this day of dedicated professional development!

Watch for a survey to be emailed soon-we would love advice for how to improve.

The Conference Committee already has wheels turning for how to make next year's conference even better-and we could use your help! Content development, marketing, session brainstorming, logistics-there is a significant spectrum of skills needed to develop a successful conference.

If you're interested in helping to organize the 25th annual conference, please email Lindsay Bork (

The submission period is now open to enter the University of Minnesota 2014 Maroon & Gold Awards for Communications Excellence. The deadline for all submissions is 3 p.m., Friday, March 21.

Submit entries to the form on Submittable.

There is no cost to enter. Entries must be submitted by a University of Minnesota Communicators Forum member who is a member of the project team. Any work created and used by the University of Minnesota between March 1, 2013 and February 28, 2014 is eligible. Submission period is March 3-21, 2014.

This year, the submission form requires a digital file [PDF] of your entry to accompany your submission for verification purposes.

Awards will be presented at the annual Communicators Forum Member Appreciation Event, May 28, 2014, 3-6 p.m., Weisman Art Museum.

For more information and directions on how to enter, visit the awards section of the Communicators Forum website.

Please direct submission or other awards questions to awards committee member Echo Martin at

Conference update

Keynote speakers announced
Our 24th annual conference is right around the corner, June 19 at the Carlson School of Management. This year's theme is "Craft the future" and we are excited to announce the keynote speakers: 
--Ellen Lupton: curator, author, teacher, designer
--Seitu Jones: Joyce Award Winner, visual artist, master gardener
--Dessa: singer, writer, rapper, producer.

Request for vendors
We're seeking vendors for the vendor fair at conference. The vendor fair helps make the low cost of conference possible. If you work with any vendors and think they might be interested in this inexpensive opportunity to raise their profile with potential clients, please contact Karina Carlson at as soon as possible.

2014 Communicators Forum Awards 
Our annual awards competition, the Maroon and Gold Awards for Communications Excellence, encourages high standards by recognizing excellence in communications at the University. You must be a member to submit an entry. This year's submission process will occur in March 2014.

Any work designed or produced by Communicators Forum member(s) and/or published / used by the University between March 1, 2013 and February 28, 2014 is eligible. Submission period is March 1-21, 2014. 

We revamped the award categories (Gold) and created several new sub-categories (Maroon) to better showcase the excellent and effective work being done by University communicators. 

More to come, but start planning what you want to submit for these 2014 award categories: 
--Design: Expanded the previous print category to include design for non-printed items; applications, infographics, web, video, and display items. 
--Interactive: Expanded the previous electronic media category to include interactive blog, application, single social media. Coordinated social media is now a part of the Campaign/Series category. The website subcategory has been broken into three subcategories: website, web section and web page.
--Writing: Expanded category to include writing for websites, newsletters, and messages. 
--Campaign/Series: The least changed of the four categories, added coordinated social media.
In addition a new maroon award has been added in each of the four categories: Innovator. The innovator award will be given to work in Campaign, Interactive, Design, and Writing that uses new media, techniques, tools, or combinations of communication tools in innovative ways heretofore unseen by the University of Minnesota community.
--Illuminate: Best use of this year's "Driven to Discover" campaign theme: "Discovery Illuminates Everyone." Any communications piece can be submitted for Illuminate award consideration.
--MIKE: The "people's choice" award. Any communications piece can be submitted for MIKE award consideration.
--Margo: Award for the highest impact for the lowest dollar amount. Any communications piece can be submitted for Margo award consideration.
Thursday, January 9, 1-2:30 p.m.
312 Science Teaching & Student Services Building (STSS)

*While this event is not hosted by the University of Minnesota Communicators Forum (UMCF), they will be represented at the event.*
The Communities of Practice Expo hosted by Project and Change Management Collaborators is a professional development and networking opportunity for anyone interested in community leadership or participation at the University.

How can communities of practice around the University learn from each other? The goal of the session is -- through collaborative, small group discussions -- to develop and share best practices for organizing in a decentralized environment. Discussion topics include generating communities to solve problems, sustaining communities over time, and understanding when a community should dismantle.    

Tables hosted by leaders from University communities of practice including Communicators Forum, PCMC, Art of Hosting, Enterprise Systems Upgrade Project, Government and Community Relations, IT@UMN, and other IT communities of practice.

Communicators Forum Monthly Mixer

Thursday, November 7, 3:30-5:30 p.m. - Campus Club, Coffman Union

There's no program, just networking, and you don't need to a UMCF or Campus Club member to attend. Starting in November, these will be held on the first Thursday of every month. Snacks are provided, drinks on your own.

Don't forget that we are starting a regular social hour called the UMCF Monthly Mixer, and the first one will be this Thursday, Sept. 26.

There's no program, just networking, and you don't need to a UMCF or Campus Club member to attend. Starting in November, these will be held on the first Thursday of every month. Snacks are provided, drinks on your own.

Please let us know if you can come, so we can order enough nachos:
Register now.

--Ann Nordby, UMCF board

Upcoming Programs

Find details and register for upcoming programs.

Wednesday, September 18, 3-4:30 p.m. - Digital Technology Center, 402 Walter Library

Kick off the new year with the UMN Communicators Forum. This event features a reception and networking, plus a presentation from OIT's Matt Nuttall, who will give us a run-down on such IT initiatives as Lyris mass email replacement, drupal, Google sites and more. 
Register here.

UMCF & Web Standards present Health Quest: Story of a UMN iPhone App
Friday, September 20, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. - 35 Nicholson Hall
Pizza at 11:30 a.m. 
Presentation w/Q+A: Noon to 1 p.m.

This presentation will be available live via Google Hangout and a recording will be provided afterwards.

Do you want to make an app but aren't sure where to start or the commitment involved? Justin Paquette, Patrik Dousa, and David Krewinghaus from Academic Health Center (AHC) Communications will share the story of creating their first iPhone app called Health Quest, a photo scavenger hunt for the Minnesota State Fair. From initial concept, in-house development/design, and approval from Apple, to the hot summer Fair days of cheese curds, Pronto Pups, and the KARE 11 barn, we'll cover:

1. Overview (why an app, how it works)
2. Design and development process
3. Promoting the app
4. Results, lessons learned, and future plans

There will be a Q&A session after the presentation with time for anyone in the audience to share their own experiences with creating an app. This presentation is for a wide range of audiences and will cover both technical and general aspects of this app project.

RSVP by Wednesday, September 18.

Communicators Forum Monthly Mixer
Thursday, September 26, 3:30-5:30 p.m. - Campus Club (4th floor, Coffman Union) - reserved area

There's a new opportunity to connect with colleagues for a professional, social, networking fun good time: introducing the Communicators Forum Monthly Mixer at the Campus Club. You know that time in between sessions at conference or at the start/end of a program where you get into a good conversation with a colleague but need to break it off? This is all about those informal but extremely helpful conversations.

- Anyone welcome -- stop in whenever and bring a friend, even if they aren't a member
- Nachos provided! (Drinks and other items on your own)
- Attendees will be entered into a raffle to win a free lunch at the Campus Club.

This is the launch of a monthly event held the first Thursday of the month (except this one). The next one and (first actual first Thursday) will be November 7.

Please RSVP if you think you might attend (to help with planning, you can still attend if you haven't RSVP'd).

The Enterprise Portal: Your Future BFF
Thursday, October 24, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - 102 Fraser 

Have you heard about the Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP)? Did you know about the new Portal? Come to this brown bag to learn all about it and how communicators will play a crucial role in its success!

Check back here later for more details (including RSVP form); or find us on Facebook or Twitter!

Save the Date: Annual Communicators Forum Conference
June 19, 2014 - Carlson School of Management
Keynote speaker: Ellen Lupton

Year of the Communicator Conference | The Benefits

You already know the advantages of attending the Year of the Communicator conference on June 25, 2013, but you may need some help convincing your supervisor.

Here are some tangible benefits of attending this year's UMCF conference:

1. It is affordable!
With airfare consistently on the rise, attending the conference means you won't only save on airfare, but hotel and food costs as well. Plus if you register before May 30, you receive the early bird discount.

2. Expand your professional network.
Because the conference is for communicators at the University, you expand your professional network across campuses. We rarely get a break to talk with our fellow colleagues and this is an excellent opportunity.

3. Keep up with the trends in the communications field and be inspired by inspiring people.
This year's conference has two keynote speakers that are industry leaders. Krista Neher is an expert on social media and will be addressing how higher education institutions can make social media work for us. Debra Frasier, author and illustrator, will help guide you on your path of creativity, something every communicator needs.

4. Attend together as a teambuilding activity.
Attending the conference as a team means you can talk about which sessions will provide you with the most skills and choose your tracks together. Creating a report for your supervisor about the sessions you attend also helps outline what you learned. Then you can discuss your day at the reception, surrounded by inspiring art at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery.

5. Gain topic-specific experience.
The strategies, tools, and skills that you learn can be taken back to your department and applied immediately. The conference offers you two keynote speakers and three breakout sessions geared to give you the tools that you need to be the best at what you do.

Don't delay and register today!

Remember that awards entries are due by noon on Thursday, March 21. We know that you are doing great work, and we want to recognize you for it!

We particularly would like to see more entries for use of the Driven to Discover campaign theme, "Discovery illuminates everyone". Read about the categories and judging criteria.

Won't your boss be pleased when you tell her that you've won an award? By the way, you can invite her (or him) to the awards ceremony at our fabulous member appreciation party on May 29 at the Weisman Art Museum. 

Don't forget, entering is free. Learn more and enter.

--Ann Nordby, co-chair, awards committee

And the winner is ...

Have you produced good work in the past year? Of course you have, and you should be recognized for it in front of your peers! Start picking out your best work of the past year to enter in the 2013 Maroon and Gold Awards. The submission period is March 1-21.

gwyneth-paltrow-crying-after-receiving-an-oscar-pic-getty-images-634733872.jpgEntering is free, and there are 22 categories all told for print, web, campaign, writing and more. See all the categories, past winners and details on the UMCF website.

This year we will give a new award for best use of the "Illuminate" Driven to Discover campaign theme. Also new this year, the "people's choice" MIKE award is going fully digital. Once submissions are in you will be able to see all the entries and vote for them online.

All the winners will be revealed and winning entries displayed at our fabulous Member Appreciation Party on May 29 at the Weisman Art Museum. (Along with mulling your MAG awards entries, you should start selecting your +1 now.) Watch for an e-mail on March 1 with complete instructions for entering.

Here are some tips for entering (and winning) a MAG award:

  • You can't win if you don't enter. And people who win a lot of awards have usually entered multiple times in multiple categories.
  • If you produced anything using the D2D Illuminate campaign, be sure to enter it. One of this year's MAG judges is from Olson, the agency that created the campaign.
  • Crying when you receive an award is completely optional.
--Ann Nordby, awards committee co-chair

My Favorite UMCF Program

The UMCF Programs Committee has put together a list of some of their favorite programs in recent years. Do you have a favorite program? Join the discussion!

Cullean Colby, Associate Administrator, Carlson IT department
My favorite program was last year's "Beginner's Circle: Videography 101". Michael Teachout, the Carlson Instructional Media Coordinator, created a presentation based on the questions and topics gathered from attendees via a participant survey. The event topics were perfectly catered to those who attended! We discussed camera options, general planning for a video shoot, necessary video software, and University resources. Most of the attendees were able to stay for lunch where we continued the conversation with more questions and shared similar video related struggles and issues. I loved watching the attendees collaborate, share experiences, formulate ideas, and make connections while enjoying pizza!

Melissa Pierce, Communications, Extension Center for Youth Development
My favorite program was "How to avoid death by PowerPoint: Tips for giving better presentations" in April 2011. It was very engaging, funny, and useful. I refer back to many of Todd Reubold's tips when creating presentations.

Sarah Howard, Communications Manager, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
The most helpful program for me was the Communications Job Study Panel. Within the U, the communications jobs family had just undergone a restructuring and some changes were made. UMCF gathered those who were behind the changes and had them explain the changes and what it meant for communicators. All of my questions were answered and I learned a lot about how jobs are structured across the University. I'm not sure where I would have gone for this information without this panel! With this type of event, I really felt like UMCF was watching out for me!

Stephanie O'Donnell, Executive Office & Administrative Specialist, Extension Technology
I joined the Communicators Forum earlier this year and have already had the privilege of attending several great programs. My favorite thus far was the "For the Common Good" Exhibit at Anderson Library this fall. Not only did I benefit from hearing more about the archiving services the University libraries offer communicators and departments on campus, but I also appreciated the guided tour of the exhibit and the subsequent discussion surrounding the history of the University of Minnesota as a land grant institution. It was a great way to feel connected to the University and its strong community of communicators.

Katie Evans, Lead Events Coordinator, Institute for Global Studies
The Communicators Forum program that I found most useful was the "Working with University Relations" on November 15, 2012. It helped me get a better sense of what types of stories the University was interested in promoting on a larger scale. The program was also great to put faces with names and be able to know who the direct contacts for different needs are.

5 steps to maximize your membership

The Communicators Forum board recently sent this email inviting members to make it your communications year and take advantage of membership benefits and value.

UMCF email banner.Here are five steps to maximize your membership.

STEP 1: Complete this brief member survey by Friday, November 16.

STEP 2: Save the date for these signature events:
  • Member Appreciation Event - May 29, 2013, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis
  • Annual Conference - June 25, 2013, all day, Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis
STEP 3: Plan to enter your best work in this year's Maroon and Gold Awards, entries due February or March 2013 for work done anytime in 2012.

STEP 4: Attend a program. The next two are:
  • November 15, 12-1:30 p.m., 100 Murphy Hall - Beginner's Circle: Working with University Relations (panel discussion)
  • December 5, 12-1:30 p.m., 2-233 Carlson School of Management - Expert Insights with Dave Pyle, former bureau chief of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Associated Press
STEP 5: Give yourself a creative reboot and try something new.

Conference Early Bird Deadline Extended to May 18!

Go for the Maroon and Gold

Communicators Forum 2012 Conference

Thursday, July 26, 2012
7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
St. Paul Continuing Education and Conference Center
Parking Map and Directions

The early bird deadline has been extended! Register by May 18 »

Session topics and speakers are now available online »

Go for the Maroon and Gold: Training Tip

Screen printing. This is quite possibly one of the coolest forms of visual communication. Conveying a message or brand through images is compelling and, if you're an art enthusiast like me, more engaging than other forms of communication (when done well).

A great example is Twin Cities illustrator and print maker Adam Turman who tells the story of biking in the Twin Cities through his collection of cycling prints.

Check out how to create the final product in this
screen printing tutorial written by Turman.

And, plan to attend Turman's UMCF conference session "Let's Print" where he'll talk about the process of screen printing, but more importantly, he'll be teaching how to pull some actual prints that attendees can take with home.

Register by April 23 for the discounted rate.

Go for the Maroon and Gold: Training Tip

Social media is a constantly changing suite of tools. While each platform offers communicators valuable ways to engage with their audience and deliver key messages, managing all of them can be a challenge. That's why developing a social media strategy is crucial to posting successful updates.

Learn how to build a social media strategy in three steps and plan to attend the UMCF conference session on developing social media strategy. Rita Greenberg, interactive media specialist at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, will present.

To register for the conference, click here. If you register by April 23, you'll pay the discounted rate of $120. Go for the Maroon and Gold!

Link Roundup: Olympic Design

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In light of the upcoming "Go for the Maroon and Gold" conference, happening a day before the 2012 Olympic Games begin, some Olympic design-related links:


And don't forget to register for the conference. Rates go up after April 23!

Annual Conference with NPR's Michele Norris

"Go for the Maroon and Gold"

Thursday, July 26, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., St. Paul Continuing Education and Conference Center

Register for the conference »

This year's keynote is Michele Norris host of NPR's "All Things Considered." To us communicators, she is an Olympian. She has done so much to advance the field and reach her goals that she is an inspiration, much like a traditional Olympian, to communications professionals.

Read Michele Norris' biography »

Tune in on the UMCF Facebook page and Twitter feed for weekly training tips--the tips will preview the conference and provide helpful tricks of our trade along the way!

Telling a story. Or, "What Grog done."

A presentation on Feb. 8 at Walter Library brought Matt Jennings and communications professionals at several universities throughout the U.S. together via a web conference to talk about what makes a story. Jennings is a great writer, currently working for Middlebury College. 

But storytelling, no matter the medium--and these days there are many--essentially maintains similar elements. It likely always has, from the first time a story was ever told, somewhere long ago, probably in a cave. Maybe it went like this: "Grog got up tree. Hit the big thing with club. Surprise! Thing fall down. We eat. Full. Feel good now" (followed by, oohs, ahhs, and some small applause).

That's a story. Beginning, middle, end. Some element of tension. A plot. 

Jennings specifically called out a few key elements I found helpful to keep in mind when considering, first, whether a story is a story at all; and second, how to write it once you decide it's a go. 

First: is it a story or a topic? 

A topic, according to Jennings, is static, passive, and is about "things." "Bill Smith: Alumnus of the Year" is a topic."Alumni in Hollywood" is a topic. Topics by themselves are not stories, but dig deeper and they may become more. 

Elements of a story include characters, dialogue, plot, tension, and scene. Personally, I feel like you get the most out of dialogue and tension. Tension, especially...if you can find some emotional connection and convey that to your audience, you can transfer the emotion. That can mean asking your characters hard questions sometimes. 

A story, then, is active, about people (not things), and shows; it isn't all tell.

Jennings says to find out if you have a story, ask, "Why does this matter?" and "Will people care?" Then, find out the players and how to tell it. Think about visuals or artwork from the beginning, he says--about how to tell the total story. And when it comes to characters, he says, "Don't tell the story of the army. Tell the story of the soldier." Tell the story from a unique perspective and show the audience things they would not see otherwise. A recent story on Northrop Auditorium's renovation is a pretty good example here, as the photographer and I were lucky enough to get access to the interior during demolition. Do all that, and one gets the idea that in the end, you'll be telling the story of the army more effectively simply by telling the story of the soldier. 
Speaking of storytelling, tell yours. U communicators meet monthly to share stories. Next meeting is Feb. 9, 3 p.m., 510 Morrill Hall.

Awards Season is Nigh!

Greetings fellow Communicators! If you were at the Experts Insights with Cyndy Brucato on Monday, you heard some exciting news about the Awards this year! If you weren't there, I guess I'll tell you now...

But first! Our new members might be curious about what the "awards" are. Maroon & Gold awards are presented annually to University of Minnesota Communicators Forum members whose work best embodies the University's core values: excellence, innovation, integrity, diversity, academic freedom, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, accountability, stewardship, and service. Awards are submitted annually, judged by an independent panel of outside experts in communications topics, and awarded during the annual conference.  Receiving an award is kind of a big deal...not only personally, but professionally. In this day and age where we are all justifying our value to our colleges and units, an award from the UMCF says to your leadership that you and your work are highly valued and respected.

Here is the UMCF Awards website, where you can read all about the categories, eligibility, etc. Please note that we are in the process of updating the pages.

So, the big news for 2012 is that awards are FEE FREE!! That's right! You do not have to pay a single cent towards awards submissions this year. That means you have no excuse not to enter all your fabulous work! The awards submission window is March 1-March 30. The one change to the process due to the free fees is that we had to do a little something different with the MIKE Award. The MIKE Award is the "People's Choice" award, voted on at the conference. In the past, it was an additional $5 fee for an already entered item. This year, we have decided to cap the MIKE entries at 30. Each college or unit may submit up to 2 entries to be considered for MIKE. These 30 entries are first come, first served, so don't procrastinate!

Our last bit of news is that we are adding a new subcategory to the Writing category. In the past, we have noticed that articles of a more technical nature were not receiving the recognition deserved because they weren't as "captivating" to the judges when compared to other work, like magazine features, etc. We feel that technical writing, while maybe not as glamorous as speech or feature writing, is very much worth recognition because when done well, it is really amazing. More information and criteria will be added to the website soon.

We'll be sharing more information on the Listserv once we get closer to awards submission month! Have a happy February!

Venue change for Nov 30 event! Maximizing Your Social Media Influence


Expert Insights: Maximizing Your Social Media Influence
November 30, 3 p.m
Akerman Hall, Room 319 McNamara Alumni Center, Room 235
Presenters are Jennifer Kane and Kary Delaria of Kane Consulting

Jen and Kary are social media consultants with an impressive client list. They will talk about how to set goals and measure success in social media beyond return on investment. For those of you who haven't heard them speak -- they are insightful and entertaining. Heavy appetizers will be served.

Shoestring Events

I stumbled across this piece on planning budgetary-conscious events at the U. I would venture to guess that budget dictates most, if not all, events here on campus, so any tips are always helpful. I especially like the free tools to get the word out on campus, and the emphasis on collaboration. While it may not be ground-breaking, it's a nice reminder that we're all in the same boat- working with a little to create so much more.

Review: Promoting Strategies on a Budget: Internal PR

*Note: This review will appear in next week's "Preview/Review" column in Brief.

Sometimes when we think about communications we believe them to be the sole job of professionals with focused job titles like "communications specialist." But communications--helping others understand the value and role of an organization--are most effective and persuasive in numbers.

Anna Kucera, director of marketing and public relations with the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, had a clear message for the several dozen attendees at the Oct. 20 UMCF event, "Promoting Strategies on a Budget: Internal PR."

Everyone in your department should be involved in communications, and ultimately, everyone in your organization is anyway, she said. A conversation is happening--online, in coffee shops, and in backyards--people talk about work. Providing the tools to enable employees to lead the conversation, and to advocate on behalf of [the U], is ultimately a communicator's job.

"The people who work for the University need to be able to speak about what they do for the U and why it matters," Kucera said.

At her own organization, Kucera said "A lot of times our employees are the people best connected to the communities we serve. We want to empower them to get the word out about upcoming events, and our agenda."

Her advice was to train everyone, in the key messages (the value) of the University, and in the use of social media (by holding social media brown bags)--an inexpensive way to amplify 20,000 faculty and staff (and 60,000 students) who make up the U.

"Social media policy should be not only a list of what not to do, but "to do's" and "how to's." Facilitate interactions among employees. Empower them to reach out to their own networks in a way that positively represents your organization," she said.

Certainly food for thought as the U approaches another important legislative session, with tens of millions of dollars on the line.
One way to get involved is to join the U's Legislative Network, get informed, and get ready for action at the U's 2012 Legislative Briefing, coming Feb. 1.

Follow the U's new legislative network on its new Facebook page, and continue the conversation online.

Watch the First Expert Insights Program

For members who couldn't make it--or just want to watch the event again--we recorded the September 15 Expert Insights program. Amy Phenix and Diana Harvey discussed "Communications as Strategic Partner: Best Practices" and shared lots of useful information.

Not a Communicators Forum member? Join today to get access to all upcoming events, including the rest of the Expert Insights series, the email list, and many other networking and professional development opportunities!

Tricks (or Treats) of Volunteer Management

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I love volunteers. They help me set up decorations and signage, greet and check-in guests, and clean-up and bring supplies back to my office. Volunteers are like my extra set of arms carefully helping me execute multiple event tasks expertly.

In this economy, volunteers are highly desirable; therefore, we need to treat them well. It's taken me time to understand how to effectively communicate and treat volunteers in order to best manage them. Below are some tricks of the trade compiled from both my experiences and from the Donor Relations Guru Blog that I follow.

1. Have realistic expectations of your volunteers. Volunteers are donating their time; therefore, don't overload them with several projects or tasks.

2. Clearly define a volunteer's role. Manage their expectations along with your own. Define what the role's tasks are from the beginning and talk to the volunteer prior to your event to make sure they understand of what's being asked of them.

3. Appreciate your volunteers. I understand - we're all busy, but taking some time to write a personal note of appreciation and thanks to your volunteers goes a long way and helps to develop a relationship. Remember - a happy volunteer = a repeat volunteer.

To learn more volunteer tricks, go to

Have any volunteer horror stories or best practices (either your own volunteer experiences or managing volunteers)? If so, let us know. 

Save the Date: 2012 UMCF Annual Conference

When: Thursday, July 26, 2012, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

St. Paul Continuing Education and Conference Center

An official save the date will be emailed to all members during fall 2011.

Registration will open early 2012. RSVP on Facebook to view ongoing updates about the conference.

Expert Insight Event: Amy Phenix on Thurs., Sept. 15!

Amy Phenix, President Kaler's new chief of staff, and Diana Harvey, our new chief communications officer, will be speaking to the Communicators Forum on Thursday, September 15 at 3pm in STSS 230. Amy's topic will be "Communications as Strategic Partner: Best Practices." The program will begin promptly at 3 with an opportunity for socializing afterward. Light appetizers will be from Kafe 421. Please register for this program on the UMCF website.

This program and all other Expert Insight events will be available by UMConnect.

Robert Sevier's Presentation at "Making Our Case"

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For those of you who wish to revisit Robert Sevier's breakout session on "Developing an Experience Marketing Strategy," please download this attachment.

2011 - Experience Marketing - Final SG.pdf

2011 Maroon & Gold Awards Recipients

Maroon & Gold awards are presented annually to UMCF members whose work best embodies the University's core values: excellence, innovation, integrity, diversity, academic freedom, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, accountability, stewardship, and service.

 Congratulations to the 2011 winners, listed below!

Still haven't registered? Register right now (Yes, right now!) for the conference. Our fantastic keynote this year is John Moe, host of Marketplace Tech Report and the Wits series at the Fitzgerald Theater. We also have an array of fabulous sessions, including Wing Young Huie's session on the University Avenue Project, a session with the Geek Girls, a Burlesque-related session, and much more! The day ends with our much anticipated Maroon and Gold Awards and a reception at the Campus Club.

Hope you all join us at Coffman Union on Thursday, May 12!

Register now! How to avoid death by PowerPoint.

Register now for the last monthly program of the academic term:

"How to avoid death by PowerPoint: Tips for giving better presentations"
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Networking and registration: 3 p.m.
Program: 3:30- 4:30 p.m.
3-180 Keller Hall

Last day for Early Bird Registration!

Save some money and register right now (this very second) for "Making Our Case," the 2011 Communicators Forum conference. I am most looking forward to the keynote speech by Mr. John Moe, host of "Marketplace Tech Report" and the "Wits" series going on throughout the spring at the Fitzgerald Theater. Also on my agenda for the day is Wing Young Huie's session on the University Avenue Project, the Burlesque guys' session on how they became so awesome, and of course, the reception at the Campus Club. Hope you all join us at Coffman Union on Thursday, May 12!

First Wednesday Happy Hour is Coming Soon

Join your fellow Forum members for
First Wednesday Happy Hour

Call it networking, socializing... whatever you wish. Just be there.

Campus Club Bar
Wednesday, March 2, 4:30 p.m.

The Forum will provide delicious Campus Club appetizers--you cover your drinks.

See you there!

Quality Fair 2011

In case you hadn't heard--and most likely you're locked in a closet if you haven't heard--the 2011 Quality Fair is tomorrow, Feb. 3, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Carlson School of Management. Every year, I expect this event to be boring, and every year I'm always surprised with the creativity and ideas that I come across. Lots of U of M communicators are there presenting posters; plus, I think there are some free can't lose. Stop on by.

Forum First Thursday Mixer 12/02/2010

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According to, the "fitness comfort" quotient for December 2, 2010 is at level 2 or "uncomfortable." Sunset, they also report, is set to occur at 4:32 pm.

So, why not beat the dark and join other Forum members for riveting repartee in a comfortable, well-lit establishment such as the U of M's own Campus Club?

The event is the Communicators Forum First Thursday Mixer and starts at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday. We are sure to bring the "fitness comfort" level up to at least 3!

See you there!

Reminder: Video program today

Don't forget to escape your desk this afternoon and come to this month's program in 101 Walter Library, 3 p.m. 

Zombie art, hip-hop, health care reform, oh my!

I'm going to use today's post for a little crossover promotion of the U-wide publication I edit, Brief. Almost a year ago now, I began a column in Brief called Preview/Review (appearing every 2 weeks), which, as you might surmise from the title, offers a review (usually just 1, maybe 2) and many previews (up to 10) of events happening on the Twin Cities campuses over the coming two weeks or so.

My thought in starting the column was to highlight the incredible variety (see title of post) of events happening every day at UMTC. I also wanted to engage readers, and so the column offers an open invitation to faculty and staff to contribute; so far, I've had a few takers, but I'd love to get more.

I've also established a few (flexible) guidelines to get the most out of the column, foremost of which is to have fun with the writing.

Other guidelines:
Events must be on the TC campus
Events should not have previously appeared in Brief.
Events should help to make the U more accessible to, and encourage connections among, faculty and staff.
Reviews of events that offer a link to more information from the event, such as a live recording or materials from the presentation, will be favored over those without more information.
Free events will be favored over pay events.
Events should have interesting and snappy descriptions, and be a little offbeat (according to the editor's admittedly subjective idea of offbeat). For example, the "27th annual..." anything will likely not be included.
Events should be sponsored by or directly involve faculty/staff and appeal to faculty/staff.

If you have a TC event you want to rave about, let me know.

Food and drinks anyone?

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It's the first Thursday of the month, which means its time for another Communicators Forum happy hour! Join us today in the Campus Club (the only bar on campus) at 4:30pm. Complimentary appetizers will be provided. 

Who should be our keynote speaker?

Planning is under way for 21st annual Communicators Forum conference! Last year, we thoroughly enjoyed our keynote speaker, Dennis Cass. We found Dennis because of you, our wonderful members! So, who do you want to see at this year's conference? Post a comment with your recommendations.

Thinking about academic freedom

I've been busy at work this month on coordinating our October program on academic freedom, and I'm excited about the discussion. Thanks to Kelly for recently posting our exact policy on academic freedom last month. There's still so much to cover for the program, which got me thinking... we know the what of the policy, but what about the who? So I thought I'd ask you what you thought.

Duluth Forum program hit the mark

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by Karen Kloser, program associate, Institute for New Media Studies.

After four years working for the Institute for New Media Studies research center in the U's School of Journalism, I have yet to meet someone who understands all the social media tools and is maximizing all the platforms and their potential.
Over the years I have looked to the Forum programs to expose me to the missing pieces.

The Forum's first program of the year, held in Duluth, did just that with guest speaker Marty Weintraub, the frenetic owner of AimClear. Weintraub, along with one of his bright, young staffers and blogger Manny Rivas for Search Engine Watch wowed attendees with their energy and command of social media and especially their work in search engine optimization (SEO).

My interest in attending this program was piqued when I read the words "reputation monitoring" in the promotion copy. Straight up, there was so much to cover in one hour that Weintraub didn't even touch upon this topic. However, I was not disappointed.

He opened the presentation with the apropos analogy comparing their agency's online marketing efforts to an ecosystem: Like nature, all social media is intertwined and interdependent, with Google as mother earth. Although Rivas was careful to remind us that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.

Weintraub also delineated online marketing into two types: free (or organic) and paid. It sounds simple enough. But as he dove deeper into their practice and strategy for search engine ranking, driving traffic, creating content, engaging communities, and harvesting high quality inbound links, I knew he was way over my head.

I didn't expect to come away from the program as a social media scholar; however, I did pick up a few tidbits to share:

  • Social media dovetails nicely with customer service
  • There is stunning micro-demographic diversity in FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube to be mined
  • Play with Facebook's amazing advertising reach-- add some off the wall likes and interests, or change your political or religious views, and watch what appears in that right hand column of ads on your page
  • Don't rule out B2B marketing, there are tons of Facebook social segments in it
  • Try Facebook advertising.

Finally, the best part of Forum programs is the networking. Afterwards, Weintraub and Rivas mingled with us during the reception. Weintraub may be a wiz at what he does, but he was very approachable and came across as just a regular Midwesterner.

How do blogging, Facebook, and other social media impact advancement?

Discover "The Meaning of 'Like': Social Media and the New World Order" at the CASE V Morning Mini-Conference Thursday, September 16.

Find out how blogging fits in with new social media. Discover how to measure activity and its impact. And, probe a case study on Facebook ads. Presenters:
  • Mark Engebretson, Director of Electronic Communications at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health
  • Amy Phenix, Director, Communications and Public Relations at Macalester College
  • Paul Sorenson, Director of New Media and Brand Strategy at the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

    8-8:30 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast
    8:30-10 a.m. Panel presentation and Q&A

Events are in the Ski U Mah Room at the McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. S., Minneapolis. Registration is only $30 for CASE V members and $35 for others.

Swimming in Lake Superior with the Communicators Forum

Not long ago I was reading a story in the New York Times about some hardy folks up north that do not shy away, evidently, from icicles in their beards. This summer, it seems, according the the U's Minnesota Sea Grant project, Lake Superior is on track for possibly its warmest waters on record. So grab your swimming suit and take advantage, and while you're there, recruit other Forum members who will be attending the Sept. 17 Forum event, "Effective Outreach to Target Audiences." It's an opportunity to learn all about internet marketing success, ice beards not included. More details below:

Effective Outreach to Target Audiences
Friday, September 17, 2010

3 p.m. Program, Weber Music Hall:

Marty Weintraub, founder of aimClear, and Manny Rivas, aimClear SEO account manager, will explain the tools that build internet marketing success: pay per click, search engine optimization, online marketing, using social media, technical audits, reputation monitoring, and driving traffic. What works, what doesn't and why? Marty Weintraub is in demand as a speaker on this subject and we are grateful to UMCF member Cheryl Reitan of UMD for arranging this program.  aimClear is an Internet-focused advertising agency with a national client base and is located in Duluth, Minnesota. It offers clients a full service array of state-of the-art services and best-in-class demographic research capabilities. Their practice centers around online marketing and their client list includes well known US publishers and household brands.

This program is co-sponsored by the UMCF, UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics, UMD Communicators Counci,l and The American Advertising Federation.

4 p.m. Refreshments and networking with the Ad Fed, UMD communicators, and Labovitz School students

6 p.m. Drinks at Zeitgeist Arts Café

7 p.m. Dinner at Zeitgeist Arts Café

The Suites Hotel at Waterfront Plaza (Canal Park) is holding rooms at $85 (studio king suite, sleeps 2-4), $90 (studio double suite, sleeps 2-4), and $100 (one bedroom king suite, sleeps 2-6) for Friday, September 17. Reserve by phone and mention the UMD Communicators Forum. 325 Lake Ave South, Duluth 55802, 218-727-4663, Booking deadline is August 17.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

9:45 a.m. Free tour of Glensheen Historic Mansion for UMCF members courtesy of UMD

Register online for the program. Book your accommodation directly with the hotel. We will contact registered members for dinner and Glensheen tour bookings. Carpooling is encouraged.

2010 Maroon & Gold Award Recipients



The entries for the Maroon & Gold Awards this year were inventive, innovative, and impressive. When the awards committee got done spreading them out, they were struck with how INCREDIBLE we are as a group of professional communicators. It was an amazing array of examples of how, in the face of budget cuts, layoffs, and the discouragement those realities have brought to us all in the past year, we have not only persevered, we have exceeded ourselves.

Congratulations! And the winners are...


  • GOLD
    Ampersand Campaign - Student Unions & Activities
    Minnesota Medical Foundation Corridor Newsletters - Minnesota Medical Foundation
    Game Day Party Promotional Materials - McNamara Alumni Center


  • GOLD
    Super Ball Drop on Facebook, Twitter... - Student Unions & Activities
    Office of Admissions Website Redesign - Office of Admissions
    Big Question: Feast or Famine? - Institute On the Environment


  • GOLD
    Momentum Magazine Fall 09 - Institute On the Environment
    Make it Super! 2009 UMCF Conference - System Academic Administration
    Personalized University Calendar - Printing Services
    OIT Google Postcard - Office of Information Technology
    Stravinsky in Paris - School of Music
    Medical Bulletin Spring 2009 - Minnesota Medical Foundation


  • GOLD
    Voracious Vegitation Article - Minnesota Sea Grant
    Late Harvest Resources - CFANS Extension
    Maxine Hong Kingston Article - National Center on Educational Outcomes
    Long-distance Learning - CFANS
    TCF Bank Stadium Donor Thank you Brochure - University of Minnesota Foundation
    2009 Casey/Minnesota Awards Speech - School of Journalism & Mass Communication


Should I buy a hybrid car? - CFANS Extension


Renewable Energy Banner - CFANS Extension


Big Question: Feast or Famine? - Institute On the Environment

Getting the juices flowing

We've all experienced creative block--those dreaded moments when a deadline looms, but inspiration is nowhere to be found. 

Dennis Cass has some ideas for us. In an interview in this blog earlier this week, Cass promised to impart "a variety of metacognitive strategies for overcoming creative block" during his keynote speech at the May 13 UMCF Conference. I, for one, can't wait.

In the meantime, here's a roundup of advice from 25 designers, creatives, and thinkers--their best tips on how to get the juices flowing. 

What are some of your tips for overcoming creative block?

See you at the conference!

It's spring!

And our thoughts are turning to the Forum conference next Thursday--what a great break from all the hectic madness of spring semester.
And for another little break, here are some links to sites that have NOTHING to do with work:
This is for anyone who loves fashion and how Michelle Obama has elevated it to height not seen in the White House since another Mrs. O who was then Mrs. K. (follow that?) A great site that I check in with about once a week or so.
A great video blog by Jay Smooth, host of the longest running hiphop radio program in New York, WBAI's Underground Railroad. Even if you don't like hiphop, this guy has a LOT to say and an incredibly self-effacing but sure-tongued way of saying it. Especially funny when you can watch his cat wandering around on the unmade bed behind him.
Because you never know when a Yiddish phrase might provide the perfect bon mot.
If you've ever struggled with weight loss, but especially if you haven't, read this blog. Great writing.

Conference preview: Dennis Cass

Dennis CassThe 2010 Communicators Forum conference, Back to Our Roots, is coming up on May 13. We asked some session presenters about their favorite Twin Cities features.

Dennis Cass is our keynote speaker.

Your claim to fame: Someday I will come to you and tell you that you must drop whatever it is you're doing because I have done something truly astounding. Today is not that day.

Favorite local outdoor activity:
Walking the Lakes with my wife or playing at the "green park" with my son.

Favorite local indoor activity:
Books, television, and video games are all viable options.

Favorite local hangout:
Sea Salt in the summer time, CC Club in the winter.

Favorite local band:
Not so much a band as a performance group but PowderKeg Live! makes me smile.

Briefly, what will attendees learn at your session?
You will learn a variety of metacognitive strategies for overcoming creative block. But try not to worry about it too much.


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Letterpress brings the digits back into the digital

Did you know the University of Minnesota's graphic design program has its own letterpress studio? You'll have a chance to visit it at this year's Communicators Forum conference on May 13. Associate Professor James Boyd Brent will be presenting a hands-on demonstration in the Session I Design Break Out.

Here's an interesting documentary about letterpress printing:

Conference preview: Tom Masterman

Tom MastermanThe 2010 Communicators Forum conference, Back to Our Roots, is coming up on May 13. We asked some session presenters about their favorite Twin Cities features.

Tom Masterman will be presenting Dialogue Earth: Mining Social Media.

Claim to fame: Largest collection of never-worn Boston sports team championship tee shirts in Minnesota (thanks to his mother, who continually mails them to him)

Favorite local outdoor activity: Walking the charming streets of St. Paul. I love my neighborhood.

Favorite local indoor activity: Visiting the Cities' many unique local coffee shops

Favorite local hangout: Common Roots on Lyndale

Favorite local blog:

What will attendees learn at your session? I'm going to show you some of the tools you can use to better understand how people are talking about your brand, and the topics related to your industry, in the social media.

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