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Program Details


SESSION 1: 2:15-3:15 pm

Alumni Relations: Who Cares? The Institution Does
By Brenda Dow, Director of Alumni Relations, SUNY New Paltz
Following various studies and alumni input, the college’s president announced steps toward doing “a vastly better job of building a worldwide alumni community.” He reinstated the Director of Alumni Affairs position to lead the three-person team and formed an ad hoc task force charged with creating a mission statement and strategic plan for the office of alumni relations aligned with the college’s institutional priorities. This presentation will review alumni operations prior to the new director’s hire, the task force’s charge and the processes they used, as well as how to manage meaningful interim changes while awaiting the formal review and institutional approval of the strategic plan.

How Much is it Worth?  The Art and Science Behind the Big Ask
Larry G. Raff, MPH, President, Copley Raff, Inc.
Preparing for a conversation with an individual who has the ability to make a significant gift to your college or university takes extensive preparation.  An essential component is knowing – and feeling confident – about the numbers behind “the ask.” A series of qualitative and quantitative questions will be presented that are designed to capture key intelligence about a potential donor. Attendees will learn how to calculate and interpret this information into a goal for a three-year pledge and a suggested gift ask amount. A highly interactive presentation, the session includes a specific hands-on exercise to demonstrate how the process works.

Learning objectives and participant outcomes include:

  • Empowering attendees to “calculate” the size of a major gift ask, based on qualitative and quantitative information.
  • Making attendees aware of the numerous factors that determine an ask calculation.
  • Helping attendees become more aware of what factors influence gift decisions.

Be an Early Tester/Late Adopter: New Social Media Tools and Ideas
By Sree Sreenivasan
With so many tools and ideas to choose from, it is as easy to get bogged down doing the familiar as it is to be distracted by the next big thing. So how do you know what tools will best meet your goals and your abilities? In this session, learn hands-on tips and tools as Sree shows you some of what he is using every day to connect better and smarter with various audiences. A specific focus on Twitter will be covered to help you improve how you use this social media platform.

Access, Completion, Success: The Importance of Celebrating Student Outcomes
By Jennifer Connally, Customer Marketing Leader, readMedia, Inc.
In her 2013 State of the University Address, Chancellor Zimpher took issue with the ongoing national dialogue about the value of a college degree. The chancellor’s agenda mapped to three system-wide institutional goals: improve access, completion and success, and demonstrate these outcomes. Hundreds of colleges across the country, in SUNY and elsewhere, face the same pressure to combat public discourse that fundamentally questions whether a college degree is worth it.

This session will look at how a variety of institutions — from SUNY and beyond — are marketing student outcomes to showcase the value of the college experience. Participants will learn how institutions like SUNY Adirondack and the University of Akron are developing content strategies aimed at generating attention for student accomplishments and unique outcomes. By creating content strategies and communications programs that directly impact key institutional imperatives, communications professionals at these institutions ensure that their work aligns with key goals — which helps them gain credibility and internal buy-in for their efforts.

Many Players, One Orchestra: Building Electronic Community
Chris D’Orso, Stony Brook University
Students have always shared their college experiences – good and bad – with their friends. But in an age where the internet is in everyone’s pocket, those experiences can now blow up in an instant – again, for good or for bad. Stony Brook has become one of the top public research universities in the northeast, but many old stereotypes remain. We’ll talk about how we’ve worked across many different campus communities to break down the old and bring in the new, and how we’re using online communities, both public and private, to help support enrollment.

Take the Live Online Giving Challenge
Lynne M. Wester, Director of Stewardship and Donor Recognition, Yeshiva University
You probably spend most of your time thinking about developing compelling campaigns on and offline, finding new ways to engage supporters, and maintaining relationship with donors. The design and content of your online giving site is probably the last on your list. Yet, studies have shown that a well-optimized donation page can help you convert visitors into donors. Join me as we examine the Live Online Giving Challenge! Bring your URL and a sense of humor as we attempt to make gifts together to see what the “donor experience” is really like!

SESSION 2: 3:30-4:30 pm

Break Down the Silos for Lifetime Engagement
Fran Zablocki, Strategist, mStoner
From the very first day that a prospect opens your admissions materials, they have a relationship with you. This is a one-to-one, lifelong relationship between the university and an individual, not a many-to-one relationship between different departments of a university and a prospect, a student/ alum, and a donor. When each stage of the relationship cycle is manned by a different team in a different silo with a different technology, our half of the relationship seems schizophrenic, forgetful, and thoughtless. Today’s admissions prospect is next decade’s donor, and this is why your alumni team needs to meet with your student affairs team and your admissions team and get on the same page. Fran Zablocki will talk about the concept of lifetime engagement management, the challenges to achieving it and the potential rewards if you can.

Diving for Data in Donor Relations
Lynne M. Wester, Director of Stewardship and Donor Recognition, Yeshiva University
Examine the results of a comprehensive donor relations study with over 900 participants worldwide. This groundbreaking effort helps the donor relations world have benchmarking statistics and keen insights to the inner workings of donor relations. The data is surprising and revealing. Areas covered are: acknowledgments, recognition, communication, gifts, policies, reporting, events and much more. We will dive into the data and find out what the trends are and where the profession is headed into the future.

First Amendment, Trademark, Copyright and Social Media Issues for Advancement Professionals
Joseph Storch, Associate Counsel, SUNY Office of the General Counsel
This session answers common legal questions raised by communications, advancement and alumni professionals. Answers to common questions and issues that arise will be detailed–and in plain English, with no legalese. Attendees will be empowered to use the current state of the law to advance programming at their campus.  The talk will cover:

  • Key intellectual property issues in trade marking the college’s name/brand
  • How to go trademark and the positives and negatives
  • What it allows you to do in merchandising
  • Stopping others from using your name and logo

Intellectual property and First Amendment issues in responding to spam Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.  This section will also cover the First Amendment and your institution’s web and social media presence, as well as the rights and responsibilities colleges have in this sphere.

Topics also include copyright issues in creating branding material, the differences between performance and synchronization rights in creating videos to promote your students or alumni, and what activities are covered by fair use guidelines.

Move Over Nordstrom: Building the Best Customer Service Program on the Planet
Randy Burge, Senior Consultant, Stamats Higher Education Marketing
Fifty percent of the students you enroll next year will not graduate from your institution. With stats like that, if you were a traditional service business, you would be out of business. As competition for qualified students continues to heat up, colleges and universities are realizing that “customer” service is one of the keys to increasing enrollment through improved yield and retention, and they are also recognizing the importance of the LTV (lifetime value) of each satisfied student. This presentation looks at how Nordstrom created a world class retailing organization by building a culture based on customer service and on how colleges and universities can adapt these principles to turn prospective students into raving fans with a lifetime of potential contributions.

Picture Imperfect or Why Pizza Drew 1,000 Likes (view slides)
Michelle Marasch Ouellette, Director, Public Relations and Publications, SUNY Plattsburgh
So you’ve got a Facebook account and you understand the basics, but your engagement isn’t what it could be.  Through tips, tricks and analytics, we’ll explore ways to harness social media to keep students, alumni and friends connected to your college. We’ll look at what types of posts draw the most engagement; discuss how Facebook timelines have changed and how to adapt to those changes; and offer some suggestions for managing your content. The session is designed for individuals with some experience in social media.

Unrolling The Scroll: A Home-Grown Social Media Mash-Up
Jessica Krywosa, Director of Social Media, Hamilton College
Creating a true strategy for social media can be a very trying effort. Besides choosing the most appropriate channels for your audience, you also have to create content, choose a voice and maintain conversation and engagement at a consistently high level. You also need to decide how loud your audience’s voice is in comparison to your own. At Hamilton College, our strategy has turned this idea on its head: what if the audience was the primary content creator and voice? How do we then ‘feed the beast’ and highlight the great content coming from our campus, our alumni and our communities?

Enter ‘The Scroll’ – Hamilton’s home grown moderated social media mash-up. Find out the strategy behind this endeavor, how content is being curated, cultivated and maintained, and how research, buy-in and education lead to its creation.

SESSION 3: 9:30-10:30 am

Capital Idea: Putting Your Capital Campaign on the Homepage
Abu Noaman, CEO, Elliance
When the time frame is tight and the budget is limited, it might seem like a simple, separate capital campaign microsite is the best way to announce a capital campaign. Well, it’s not.  Here’s a case study of how –and why – a college collaborated with an outside vendor to redesign their website first, then included a link to the separate capital campaign microsite.  Learn how they structured the website to tell their unique story and why that message can increase donations. Creative thinking is essential when deadlines dictate speed, yet the stakes are too high to settle for anything but excellence.  Here’s proof that if the message is created with sophistication and grace, a capital campaign can belong on the homepage of a college’s website.

Crisis Management: Hope for the Best; Expect the Worst
Jeffrey Morosoff, Assistant Professor, Hofstra University
Crisis management presents public relations practitioners with numerous challenges, especially when considering how to “prepare” for crises and how to determine what potential crises exist. The dilemma is: Which potential PR crises can be anticipated and prepared for with some degree of practicality? Organizations of every size and type must create crisis management plans by attempting to anticipate anything and everything that could go wrong. It is a terribly imprecise task. There are, however, definitive steps a public relation practitioner can take to mitigate the most difficult of campus-related situations. This session will outline the process for “hoping for the best and expecting the worst.”

Empower Your Students with Strategic Communication (view slides // view Alyssa Explains It All series)
Tim Nekritz, Associate Director of Public Affairs/Director of Web Communication, and students Heather Casey and Alyssa Levenberg, SUNY Oswego
We all know current students are great ambassadors — colleges use them for campus tours and donor communication — but what about empowering their creativity for the social media space? This is what we’ve done at SUNY Oswego, where student blogging has moved beyond “this is what I did this week” to dynamic multimedia series tackling such strategic topics as college transition (“Alyssa Explains It All”) to what to do around the college and community (“Kwame Belle’s Bucket List”) to health and wellness (“Head2Toe Health with Heather”). What don’t you need? A huge budget. What do you need? A willingness to empower students to carry out creative ideas. This presentation will include examples, takeaway suggestions and (tentative) some of our active, creative student video bloggers.

A GOLDen Opportunity: Creative Strategies for Student and Young Alumni Philanthropy
Casey W. Crandall, Associate Director, Annual Giving, University at Albany
We will discuss ways to build a culture of philanthropy among students and young alumni. Together we will answer the question: Can your GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) and Class Gift efforts be improved by creating unique and tailored programs that address the specific needs and goals of your institution?

Mastering a Master Plan: A Campus-Wide Signage Program
Carol Leven and Rion Byrd
When managing a campus-wide overhaul of visual materials, do you avoid consultation, fearing it will lead to confrontation? Devoting the time and resources of a talented creative team isn¹t enough if that effort doesn¹t get buy-in from students, faculty and staff. When the Fashion Institute of Technology embarked on a major revamp of its campus signage‹inside and out‹they began by linking the college¹s strategic plan to the goals of the signage program: enhancing visibility in the neighborhood and the city, conveying the creative energy of the institution and building community by making it easier for people to find their way around. From a full campus inventory through town hall meetings, consistent communications and consultation with a wide range of constituents, the process sought input on everything from design to color to renaming the buildings. This session will detail the steps involved and the creative solutions that brought together the new master plan so you can learn how great design and an engaging process can lead to successful solutions your campus will embrace.

The New Reality: State and Federal Funding for Public Higher Education
Megan Toohey, Director of State Relations at the University at Buffalo
Michael Frame, Director of Federal Relations for SUNY
The traditional funding model for public higher education is a thing of the past. In an era without federal earmarks and with state cuts to public higher education across the country, institutions are being forced to make tough decisions and think creatively about how to not only survive, but thrive in this new paradigm. New York is no different. With no member items from Albany and substantial cuts to operational and capital budgets, SUNY is faced with many of the same challenges as other institutions in other states. This panel will provide an overview of the federal and state budgets for SUNY and look at some ways institutions can deal with the challenges brought on by the new reality of public higher education funding.

New Tools: RebelMouse, Storify and Sprout Social for Facebook and Twitter Engagement (view slides)
David Regan White, Special Staff Assistant, SUNY Empire State College
Social Media is increasingly becoming the new marketing and engagement paradigm.  Are you familiar with the latest social media apps and the strategies for how to use them to increase student and alumni engagement with your college?
We will discuss how to:

  • Promote a post and advertise on Facebook
  • Advertise on Twitter, use lists and optimize tweets to increase followers
  • Start a volunteer social media advocacy program
  • Integrate with RebelMouse and Storify to enhance content
  • Use Sprout Social to manage social media properties

Prospective and current students and alumni want to engage with you through social media and utilizing the latest apps and strategies will enhance their user experience and increase their affinity to your college. Come prepared to ask questions about or share experiences with the latest toys in your social media playground.

SESSION 4: 10:45-11:45 am

Creating New Websites: The 10 lb. Monkey vs. The 500 lb. Gorilla
Fran Zablocki, Strategist,  mStoner
The typical 500 lb. gorilla of web projects in higher education is the complete campus-wide redesign and CMS implementation – but what about all the little 10 lb. monkeys? Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Those little monkeys that jump on your back every time someone walks into your office and says, ‘Hey, I have this idea for a website!’  Completely overhauling your main website may be an all-consuming task for nine months every four years, but the smaller projects in between are just as important and there are many more of them. Or maybe you work in a small team that has to do it all- web content management, social media, html/css, wireframing, usability testing, and more – and now you’re being tasked with tackling that 500 lb. relaunch gorilla.

This session will help to answer:

  • What are the challenges that smaller web teams face to produce great websites?
  • What are the advantages (yes, there are some!) to being small or focusing on a smaller scale project?
  • What tools are out there that are a good fit for small projects and small teams?

How Metrics Can Make You a Hero on Campus
Randy Burge, Senior Consultant, Stamats Higher Education Marketing
As Marketo’s CEO, Phil Fernandez, recently commented, “the #1 thing a marketer can do to build credibility with the CEO is to offer cuts to marketing programs.”  Sounds crazy, right? Not so fast. Think about the credibility you’ll build and the dollars you’ll have to invest in other communications efforts if you decide to close down enrollment or development efforts that aren’t producing good result, aren’t strategically aligned with your institution’s plan, or just aren’t as critical as other programs.
If you’re like a lot of the enrollment professionals, you’re buying more names and getting fewer qualified responses. But are you asking yourself the tough questions?

  • What’s the real cost of a prospect produced by traditional search?
  • What’s the revenue potential?
  • How does this compare to other sources of prospects?
  • Is the investment in traditional search preventing you from funding better sources of prospects?
  • Are you filling the pipeline with prospects that just aren’t a good fit?

Calculating the return on your investment in marketing (ROMI) isn’t easy. It takes discipline, it takes planning, and it takes the nerve to be able to admit that something may not be working. But, using metrics to make tough decisions about your recruitment and development programs helps demonstrate a strong sense that you are managing a portfolio of investments and that you are willing to make hard choices with [your institution’s] money.

Leveraging Video for Your Brand
Paul Miller, Director, Digital Media, University at Albany
Brian Busher, Producer/Editor, Digital Media, University at Albany

Catherine Herman, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, University at Albany

Video is one of the most powerful tools available to help market any brand. It can be immediate, informative, immersive, and entertaining. Yet many people aren’t exactly sure how, or even why, to do it. This presentation explores the University at Albany’s strategic approach to harnessing the power of video to promote multiple facets of their school and brand.

Topics will include:

  • Is your brand “video-ready”?
  • Learn how to express your identity through content marketing
  • Working with campus constituents on video initiatives
  • Investing smartly in talent and technology.
  • Distributing your video content
  • Measuring the success

Prospecting Ideas from Outside the Ivory Tower
Steven G. Frederick, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Clinton Community College
Robert Duckworth, Senior Account Executive, Blackbaud
Higher education fundraisers can take a page or two out of the prospecting manual taught to corporate sales people. This interactive session will show participants how corporate sales people are trained to prospect new business, and in turn, show how applicable this training is to higher education fundraising. Takeaways will include effective development strategies for both someone new to fundraising and the seasoned professional. Learn how to use the 10-3-1 method for success, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales People, the Rule of 66, and how social medial prospecting can make your job much easier. The co-presenters have 40+ years of combined fundraising/sales experience and a bag full of success/disaster stories to share

SUNY Print Matters: Sharing Printing Services Statewide
Kirk Starczewski, Empire State College; Laura Stetson, SUNY System; Rose Throop, SUNY Oswego; Dannie Wilson, SUNY Potsdam
The SUNY Print Matters: Shared Printing Services initiative is designed to handle the printing needs of SUNY institutions, providing them with an alternative to outside vendors, keeping SUNY funding within SUNY, for substantial savings and reallocation in funding other critical initiatives in access, completion and success. For this initiative to work, those responsible for marketing, design and layout at SUNY campuses need to be a part of the discussion now to gain insights and suggestions for the initiative and its many facets. Too often in business and higher education, decisions are made at the 50,000-foot level, with no consultation with those on the ground floor, creating the real possibility that what was conceived and approved in theory, does not work as easily as expected in reality. The users need to be part of the creative solution process for this to work smoothly and efficiently.  Come share your ideas on this project, with the goal of saving your campus and department money at the same time.

Train First, Talk to the Press Later
Jim Cameron, Cameron Communications, Inc.
Every educator and administrator needs the communications skills to handle media interviews, whether they are discussing good news or bad. This workshop will show you how to hone your message, deliver it convincingly and avoid the pitfalls offered by aggressive or hostile reporters. Whether your interview is on TV, in print, in person or by telephone, this workshop will give you the skills and confidence to make every interview the story.  This workshop is both interactive and high level, and includes video and print examples, good and bad, to update even an experienced communicator’s skills set.

The Truth is Out There: Benefiting from Listening in Social Media (view slides)
Lisa Kalner Williams, Founder, Sierra Tierra Marketing
Good social graces dictate that whether at a party, a job interview, or business meeting, one listens as well as speaks to others. The same idea applies to marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. (They’re not called “social” media channels for nothing!) Listening through social media though isn’t just a matter of good etiquette. Good listening skills can help your development group gather market feedback, competitive information, and new growth opportunities.

Participants will leave this session with the ability to:

  • Identify advantages of listening on social media platforms
  • Understand listening methods particular to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram;
  • Create no- or low-cost listening stations for the above social channels for better business results.

SUNY System Presents Roundtables

Sometimes, you just want to share those war stories. SUNYCUAD has asked our colleagues from System Administration to lead a series of roundtable discussions amongst attendees working in similar fields. How do you engage alumni that don’t seem to care? What should I include in my social media policy? How can I manage all of these areas effectively? What you learn is truly limited to what you can think to ask each other.

Location: Belmont

Kaitlin Gambrill, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Planning and University Advancement
Tracy Soren, Coordinator, Alumni Relations and University Advancement

Jennifer LoTurco, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Affairs
Megan Wolszczak, Special Assistant to the Chancellor

David Belsky, Director of University Relations
Jim Campbell, Director of Legislative Relations

Senior Leader Strategy
Stacey Hengsterman, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Communications

Joe Storch, Associate Counsel
Taras Kufel, Web Design and Content Manager