The University of Newcastle, Australia

October 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Along with 200 million others, I have launched myself into the Twittersphere.

Getting social

In the past couple of weeks, I have tweeted and re-tweeted, followed and been followed, joined the national discussion around the future direction of higher education policy, cheered on Anne Summers as she launched her new conversation series starting with former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and sent well-deserved congratulations to our latest graduates, and their families and friends.

I do enjoy being playful with the English language and I am Irish, so I am finding it quite a task to synthesize an idea into just 140 characters. Equally challenging is learning a completely new language – with hashtags and mentions, without even delving into Twitter etiquette. I am sure I will make a myriad of gaffes along the way, but my enormously patient Twitter tutor from our Marketing team assures me all is progressing well.

Keeping up with sector news

Another new communication development that we have recently put in place is the UON Sector Update. Every day, there are important changes in the higher education sector, coming from political circles in Canberra and Sydney, from other universities in Australia, as well as from overseas. Appreciating that it's difficult to stay on top of emerging issues and trends, the UON Sector Update provides a summary every couple of days on those key developments that help us in our roles as academics, researchers and professional staff. As well as the summary, the update offers more information through links to news sites – some are free, and others will require a subscription. The UON Sector Update is brought together by the immensely talented, objective and media savvy Keryn Stewart in the VC's office.

Clearer comms across UON

In large organisations like ours, it is important to keep information flowing about key developments and decisions by the leaders of the organisation. On the Council webpage, is the communiqué that reports important discussions and decisions. Similarly, a new Executive Committee webpage has been launched and is available with a weekly EC update to keep staff, students and the broader community informed about key operational and strategic decisions and discussions made by the Committee.

Another tool we have introduced is the "Leadership Brief", which is sent to Directors and Heads of School every two weeks. The aim of the Brief is to provide the leadership group with timely corporate information in a consolidated document that they can use as a basis to keep their teams up to date. The previous issue of the Brief focused on a new policy and procedure regarding University corporate data, as well as key dates for the 2014 corporate planning cycle, and happenings in the sector around the potential changes in higher education policy. The Leadership Brief has also been designed to collect feedback from teams to be channelled back to Executive Committee.

Save the date

Coming up on Monday 4 November we will host our own UON Q&A. We might not have locked in Tony Jones, but much like ABC TV's regular event we have a terrific staff and student panel lined-up to answer questions about our future in the face of some pretty challenging times ahead. This is an event for all staff, and you will hear more about the UON Q&A in the coming weeks and also have the opportunity to submit questions to the panel. In the meantime, save the date: 4 November at 4pm in the Griffith Duncan Theatre. Of course, for our colleagues who can't be there on the day, the event will be available through video conference, and also filmed and placed on the web.

Reflecting on all things communication, it is really clear that some people prefer their communication in short, sharp messages delivered in 140 characters or less; others like a good personal conversation and regular meetings; while others will opt to sit quietly and read about the latest UON developments on screen. Whatever one's preference might be, the best communication rule of thumb for us all is to keep the information flowing in as many ways as possible for our mobile, busy and diverse University community. But right now, it appears to be time for my next social media tutorial … we're still on the use of the hashtag … truly …

Best wishes


Twitter @mcmillenvc

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