Extension Roadmap Steering Committee Meeting Notes, September 16, 2021

Present:  H. Carter, A. Smart, J. Bolton, K. Yerxa, L. Wilson, M. Snowden, D. Harrington, L. Phelps, B. Foster, M. Glatter, R. Machado, R. Scott

Not Present:  M. Bailey, S. Baez., T. Tilton, T. Jackson

The committee continued to discuss the recommendations found in “Successful Communications and Marketing”.  The committee began the process of discussing each of the theme committee recommendations with the intent of 1) further clarifying the item, 2) determining if it is something the Steering Committee could move forward and 3) possibly combining it with another item(s).  The discussion was as follows and the items in blue were committee discussions, the items in red were comments from the Dean.

Successful Communications and Marketing:

  1. Hire a Maine-based marketing firm to develop a professional marketing plan for UMaine Extension.
    a. With the hiring of a Marketing and Communications Specialist position and the changes in UMaine Marketing and Communications, it is assumed that a marketing plan for Extension will be developed by the new position, the C&M team, and the connections to UMaine Marketing.
    b. Will hold/doesn’t have to move forward.
  2. Establish a committee to either a) work with the hired firm and/or b) develop specific marketing strategies in the absence of a hired firm.
    a. New position could possibly implement this committee/figure out what they need for advice?
    b. New position and C&M team could set the vision and engage with different units, then work on implementation.
    c. Structured onboarding for a new person to get to know what has been happening in different programs/areas throughout Extension in regards to marketing.
    d. Create a community of “best practices”.
  3. Establish an orientation and/or Professional Development strategy to help accomplish the goals of successful Communications and Marketing. (Ties in with onboarding, already moving forward from previous discussions).
    a. Possibly refreshers after initial trainings to new employees.
    b. Resources to go to for refreshers when faculty/staff are in the need of them.
    c. Conversations around badging and certificates around communications and marketing that staff could do.  The audience would be internal audiences. 
  4. Hire a Director of Communications and Marketing who is also a member of UMaine Extension leadership.  (Recommendation currently moving forward.)
  5. Conduct a recurring audit of the current operations of the UMaine Extension Communications and Marketing.
    a. What would a program review look like?
    b. Reassessing short/medium/long term goals or projects?  Long-term goals of the ELT?
    c. Need to set a strategy/plan and then review that plan.  Could happen with the new position?  They could help to set goals — then review.
    d. Create benchmarks potentially based on revenue?
    e. Auditing products coming out of Extension, such as the fact sheets–they should be consistent across the different programs/authors.
  6. Establish a staffing structure that will support the successful implementation of the strategies identified in the Marketing Plan.
    a. Secondary individuals who work with the team in these efforts, such as those doing web work as part of their jobs.
    b. Formalize teams who are doing work in communications (like social media) so they can share information, etc.  These teams could then work with the C&M team.  An example of Alex G. with EFNEP was shared — a great example of people who have a formal role working with communications.
    Coordinate with outside entities (like the 4-H Foundation). 
  7. Create and deliver a Brand 101 toolkit for UMaine Extension that includes a marketing plan, style guide, and the importance of brand consistency.
    a. This is mostly already in place.  Will freshen up Plugged In.  It might be unwieldy, possibly need to revamp plugged in?
    b. Maybe it needs to be reorganized/reviewed/assessments?
       i. Figure out how to organize?
  8. Develop incentives for employees to become effective brand ambassadors.
    a. Maybe it’s already in our job descriptions?
  9. Establish a social media and web managers Community of Practice.
    a. #35; grouping together of like ideas.
  10. Develop, maintain, and ensure consistent use of digital media policies and best practices.
    a. Possibly part of the auditing/review process?
    b. Look at older materials/websites, etc.
  11. Make evidence-based decisions about the use of specific digital platforms based on our capacity to successfully maintain a presence on each platform.
    a. University aligned; ADA compliant; issues around advertising.
    b. Discuss with C&M Team
  12. Establish “User Groups”; groups of staff sharing similar duties who communicate and collaborate regularly with a liaison from the Communications and Marketing team.
    a. See #35
  13. Create a Call Team and Staff Contact List for each program area.
    a. Possibly connected to the 1800 number. 
    b. Could tie into the database recommendation.  (Alicyn volunteered).
  14. Maintain a newsfeed and event feed on all website homepages.
    a. Currently, this is occurring.
  15. Designate a member of the Communications and Marketing Team as the point-person for Internal Communications.
    a. Possibly around the internal newsletter?
    b. Could be the new person’s responsibilities?
  16. Reevaluate the effectiveness of Plugged-In and make recommendations for how it can be improved.
    a. Previously discussed.
  17. Conduct an assessment of the ways in which the organization is currently and could potentially receive internal information, news, and updates.
    b. Cindy is putting together a survey to possibly distribute this fall.

The majority of these recommendations were already being considered by the Communications and Marketing Team. Several were determined to be priorities for the new Marketing and Communications Specialist position.  There are others that will be moved to the “Combined Recommendations” document for further consideration.

Our next meeting will be Monday, October 4, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. 

The agenda will be as follows:

  1. Recap the process for Theme Committee Recommendations review.
  2. Discuss “Combined Recommendations” and determine short/medium/long term priorities.
  3. Discuss the timeline of the Steering Committee and the next steps in this process.
  4. Other thoughts/items to consider