Let the storytelling Commence


The strains of Pomp and Circumstance, on a seemingly endless loop. A sea of mortarboards and long black robes. The high-pitched squeals, long whistles and low cheers of friends and family, excited to hear their graduates’ names called from the stage.

I’m not normally a very formal or sentimental person, but I love Commencement. It’s impossible for me to hear a few bars of Pomp and Circumstance without reflecting on my own graduation day. (Fun fact: I’m part of the relatively small group of grads who had Commencement on the Oval, in 2001, with Bill Cosby as speaker. My entire family managed to sit along the path from my seat to the podium, so I got to high-five my proud parents on the walk to pick up my diploma.)

As a higher ed communicator, I think Commencement is one of the best opportunities universities have for engagement: It’s a chance to inspire prospective and current students; tell grads’ stories; and give alumni a chance to reminisce about their own graduation days.

University Communications is using the week leading up to Commencement to share the stories of three fantastic soon-to-be alums: a field hockey star from Trinidad and Tobago; an Ohio native who started the first TEDx event in a prison; and a highly involved Atlanta native who was mentored through the Bell National Resource Center, which serves African-American male students. (We’ve got a long list of destinations for the story and its parts: the web, including osu.edu and Alumni Association properties; social media, where we’ll share and engage via #OSUgrad; OSU Today and Connect e-news to alumni; and our sister print pubs, onCampus and the Alumni Mag.)

The stories are fantastic–and the final product is reflective of the variety of talents we have in the Multimedia unit of Editorial Communications. With two photographers, a video producer, a social media manager and a senior writer all working on digital storytelling, we are able to produce compelling packages like this. (We also rely on teamwork from others, like the designer whose layout made this work sing on the web page.) When all these skills complement one another, we can effectively show the amazing opportunities Buckeyes have when they embrace Ohio State.

Watch one of three grad videos below–and then check out the full story.

The story behind the success

I’m in the final stretch of Ohio State’s Gateway to Management program. It’s got me thinking about workplace culture–a topic I find really interesting–even more than usual.

This year, one of the projects I’m proud to be working on is the launch of the University Communications blog. We update weekly, with a revolving group of writers showcasing “behind the scenes” stories about communications successes and sharing best practices. (Two favorites: The story of the #BuckeyeLove, a fund-raising campaign that used tools from phone to print to social media and an insider’s peek into our strategy and tactics for welcoming a new Ohio State president.)

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The UComm blog is a reminder of what I love about working at Ohio State. It’s inspired, it’s inclusive, it celebrates teamwork and it showcases innovation–to me, the best parts of the staff culture at Ohio State.

Since I started my career here in 2005, I’ve been grateful for a talented, interesting, energetic group of colleagues who will help me think through ideas, trouble-shoot problems and tweak products till they really work. The upshot has been teamwork I’m proud of–from the O-H-I-O campaign to interactive osu.edu features to a social media presence that’s grown into a higher ed benchmark.

Read the blog to be inspired. And let me know if you’d like to share your own communications success story.