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The 2015 College Media Conference, presented by the Council of Independent Colleges and American Association of State Colleges and Universities, recently concluded after two and a half days of panel discussions, newsroom tours and networking. More than 200 higher ed communicators gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference.

This year’s College Media Conference provided great insight and fueled conversations that continued long after the sessions. As is often the case, the biggest takeaways came through loud and clear on Twitter. So, we’ve compiled a short list of tweets that drive home some of the most important lessons learned.

You have to pick up the phone and address hard issues head on #cmcDC @insidehighered
It’s easy to avoid the reporter who is calling to discuss a tough or controversial story involving your institution, but it’s important to do the opposite, so your side of the story can be told.  

Before starting a social media effort, ask: What are goals, strengths, target audiences? What commitment can be made? - @danzaiontz #cmcDC

Many aspects of a communication professional’s job are an art, but it can no longer be an art without purpose. The communication professionals at the conference were reminded that behind all great creative efforts must be strategy.


@NBCNews producer and @collegemediacon speaker Sarah Baker: “If you have a non-wonky person on a wonky topic — shout; yell.” #cmcDC

In academia things can get wonky, so be on the lookout for that professor or administrator who can take their area of study and break it down for regular people to understand.


Advice from @EmoryUniversity's @NSeideman to college PR reps: Plan, practice scenarios, have relationship with PR firm before crisis #cmcDC

Nancy Seideman from Emory University shared the university’s story of being at the center of the Ebola attention, and she reminded us that emergency drills matter, having a strong relationship with a PR firm is important, and that case studies are one of the best ways to learn.


OSU digitally gift-wrapped their new president last year, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. #cmcDC   

Another great case study was presented by Doug Haddix from Ohio State University. His session about the rollout of OSU’s new president was a highlight. An impressive launch for sure and good ideas for repurposing social media content that places much smaller than OSU could easily implement. He suggested dedicating a page in the alumni magazine to your best social media content.


@carlstraumsheim from @insidehighered on what he's looking for in a pitch ... 1) trend, 2) human element and 3) data. #cmcDC#greatformula

Yes, this. Carl’s point was reiterated by nearly every reporter we heard from during the conference.


@libbyanelson says she's stunned by how fast local stories can become national stories. Another reason not to underestimate local. #cmcdc

With the ease with which local affiliates transmit their stories to national networks and the resistance on the part of national outlets to commit resources to cover stories outside major markets, this is a solid tip for getting national coverage without being visited by a national correspondent.


Fantastic event – this first-time attendee's head is absolutely spinning with ideas. Thank you! #cmcDC

Overall, this conference is a great experience for new PR pros or those looking for a refresher after being away for a few years.

What were your top takeaways? Let us know in the comments section.

Keri Rursch is executive director of public relations, communication and marketing, and Sam Schlouch is director of public relations and arts promotions at Augustana College.

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