Communication Standards, Practices and Expectations
This section highlights relevant policies (at both the university and division level) and articulates expectations and desired practices related to how, what, and when we communicate via the Web, social media, mass email (decision tree). Another focus area will be on determining messaging outcomes: What do we want specific audiences to know, feel/believe, or do as a result of engaging with our communications?
Division of Student Life Webpages
Consistent with the rest of Baylor University’s web properties, websites managed by Student Life exist on the new Drupal CMS (Content Management System) platform. The transition from our old CMS to Drupal has been a multi-year process and the new platform provides some of the most robust internet security and stability of any CMS being used today.
The day-to-day management of web content is a collaborative effort in partnership with Baylor Marketing Communications (MarComm). In general, Student Life has the discretion to communicate our own unique message while MarComm assists with backend programming and helps to maintain a uniform look-and-feel to all university websites. This means that our websites are somewhat limited in color palette, font selection and other design elements to help maintain consistency in the Baylor brand.
As we work to maintain our sites, our mindset should be on what audience needs to know more than what we want to communicate. We should always keep our audience in mind!!! It is also important to remember that our website traffic is more than 50% prospective students and parents. We should avoid jargon and insider lingo, and assume that those hitting our pages are not familiar with our programs and traditions.
Division of Student Life Social Media Accounts
For most content, departments can use their own discretion in posting. A good balance of event promotions, storytelling (talking about what you do or have done), and educational content is encouraged. None of that type of posting requires divisional approval.
When a wide-reaching incident has occurred that negatively impacts the student body, departmental messaging in support of students may be drafted and approved for posting. The purpose of this type of social media messaging is to offer encouragement and support to impacted students within a manner consistent with the purpose of the department and with the mission of the University. To this end, the message should (1) be nonpartisan in nature, (2) be aligned with University values and consistent with previous institutional communication on the matter, (3) be directly connected to the work of the department posting, and (4) only be posted on platforms where comment sections are disabled/turned off.
The process for approving department messages in support of students is as follows: (1) the director of the department will notify their dean of the intent and provide draft language of the message, (2) the dean will review and clarify any questions about the message; and (3) the dean will consult with the Vice President for Student Life (or his designee) for final approval of the message before posting. As is consistent with other forms of communication, Marketing and Communications will be notified, and on occasion consulted as the situation requires by the dean before a message is posted.
Departments should monitor closely social media as part of ongoing feedback from students, parents, and other constituents and work with the Division Communications Team and/or Marketing and Communications as the situation dictates.
Additional guidance for Social Media Posting:
- Work to make messaging tied to department purpose statements, ideally drawing people back to mission and values of Baylor and purpose of unit
- Use wisdom and discernment when posting to own personal social media account about an issue
- Consider ways to communicate out only to students directly affected by a situation or event, where broader communication might cause distress within the student body or segments of the student body.
An updated list of social media platforms and accounts associated with our division can be found online under the Resources tab of the Student Life main page.
If the content is something that can be included in What’s New BU (for students) or Spotlight (for division staff), then this should happen, and separate mass emails avoided. We will always attempt to minimize the number of emails that students receive during the academic year to maximize the effectiveness of what is sent. If you feel you have a need for a mass email that falls outside of the previously mentioned regular mailings, contact the Associate Director for Outreach & Engagement (Tom Barnard) to process possible options.
Content related to personal matters (e.g., selling a home or a car) is not appropriate for mass email distribution to staff or students and are not permitted.
Exceptions to these mass email standards are provided to New Student Programs and to Campus Living & Learning who need to communicate critical information to incoming students each semester through their own systems, and to Student Conduct as they communicate compliance-related items to all students each semester.
Student Life Events Outlook Calendar
This helpful tool exists to ensure that all of the larger and more regular events are known by all throughout the Division of Student Life. Everyone in the Division has access to this calendar and can see what might be going on in any given day. One of the goals of this informational tool is to aid in preventing departments and offices from programming over each other’s events. To be sure, this tool is only useful to the degree that departments keep it up to date and utilize it. Expectations and instructions on use of this tool are found on our For Staff webpage and should be followed.