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Collaborating Across State Lines

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As communications and marketing teams are asked to do more with fewer resources, finding time to do everything can be a challenge. Virginia Cooperative Extension and North Carolina Cooperative Extension communicators teamed up this past year to collectively provide online communications training for their Extension field staff. Communicate to Connect is a monthly webinar series designed to cover communications and marketing fundamentals, as well as introduce new topics to help Extension educators become better communicators and connect with those in their community. Come learn how we developed the concept, shared resources, and engaged our audiences during this monthly communications “tune-up.” We’ll share what we’ve learned along the way and welcome others to share their training tips too!

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Collaborating Across State Lines

  1. 1. COLLABORATING ACROSS STATE LINES Virginia and North Carolina team up to develop a joint communications training series. Presented by: Lori Greiner, Virginia Tech Natalie Hampton, North Carolina State University
  2. 2. Situation • Lots of need for communication training • Limited human resources and expertise • Limited time and competing priorities
  3. 3. Can two state Extension services combine human capital to address training needs? Two ACE members say yes!
  4. 4. Two main goals • Offer short, targeted webinars focusing on communications tools and best practices • Provide experience with various webinar software to help hone our webinar skills and delivery methods
  5. 5. What did faculty want to know? • Conducted a needs assessment • Reviewed professional development data from each institution
  6. 6. What did the faculty tell us? • Faculty at both institutions had similar training needs.  Create and edit a video  How to write an impact statement  Create a report for local government officials  Write engaging content for local websites  Develop a marketing/communications plan • There were some topics that didn’t rise to the top, but were still important.  Social media, analytics  Basic media relations, how to write a news release
  7. 7. Who would be our experts? • Prioritized topics based on needs, available expertise, and whether is made sense to cover the topic in a webinar format • Engaged other experts  Others on our teams  The agents themselves
  8. 8. Getting the word out
  9. 9. Webinar format • Narrow focus • Limit instruction to 30 minutes • 15 minutes for questions, if needed • Take no more than an hour of a participant’s time • Followed up with a short evaluation
  10. 10. What we learned • It took more time to plan than we anticipated. • The webinars were very well received by the faculty and those who completed evaluations gave us high marks. • The length of instruction was just right. • Overall it was worth our time and effort.
  11. 11. Questions? Lori Greiner Communications Manager Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech lgreiner@vt.edu / 540-2315863 Natalie Hampton Director of Marketing and Communications The Graduate School, NC State University nhampton@ncsu.edu / 919-513-0389

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