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A focus on digital communications

University Relations realigns its portfolio to support Queen’s digital communications future.

After many months of review, consultation, and discussion, University Relations is embarking on a new phase to better align its central communications practice with the future needs of Queen’s University. It is formally integrating staff from its communications and marketing units.

“The past few years have been a complex time for marketing and communication professionals. The landscape has shifted considerably as a result of advances in digital and social communications, and the decline of traditional advertising and journalism,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “What was formerly an environment with clearly defined lines between marketing and communications has been transformed into an analytical and data-driven profession where integrated content creation and promotion of consistent messaging drives the need for seamless collaboration between marketing and communications. This has changed the nature of the work done by marketing and communication professionals, calling for a different way of working.”

At the same time, University Relations is being called upon to support faculty marketing and communications activities in new ways, as these faculty teams have expanded their own activities significantly over the past few years.

In response to these changes, Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Principal Fraser sponsored an external organizational review of the portfolio earlier this year. This review involved consultation with VPs, University Relations staff, and the faculties. It built upon the work of a review last year of the department’s digital capabilities by a leading digital media agency.

“The findings of these reports, and additional consultations with a number of other U15 universities, have informed the realignment that’s been announced this week,” says Principal Woolf. “I am looking forward to the next phase in the evolution of our digital communication efforts and to Queen’s telling its story in ever-more compelling and powerful ways.”

Going forward, Queen’s University Communications will include strategic communications, media relations and issues management, as well as a new position for brand communications and insight focusing on strategic marketing support for our faculties and schools. Existing work in website development and the enhancement of digital communications capabilities will be led by a new digital strategist.

Queen’s University Communications will be headed by an associate vice-principal of communications who will report to the vice principal of university relations. The formal search process for the AVP position will begin shortly. During the transition, current Director of University Marketing (interim), Helen Vasilevski (Com’92), will lead Queen’s University Communications. Ms. Vasilevski holds an MBA from INSEAD and is a member of the Global Council of the Smith School of Business here at Queen’s.

“I am very optimistic about the future possibilities for communications and marketing at Queen’s and am proud of the work our portfolio has accomplished, including recent initiatives to promote research, diversity and inclusivity, and to announce our new principal designate” says Vice-Principal Fraser. “This new phase will see amplified support for faculty communications and our other university partners as we increase integration within UR, and develop an enhanced strategic focus on digital and social media across the portfolio for marketing and communications.”

Over the coming days, Queen’s University Communications will be in touch with its campus partners and external vendors to update them about the ongoing integration activities and to support the projects and initiatives already underway.