An Important Lesson

by Ellen Davis
Temple College
Temple, TX

Those of us who work in academia often take for granted that everyone else understands all the terms we use.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. This lesson was brought home to me recently in an interaction with a young reporter for a local newspaper.

Like most community colleges, we have a division that offers noncredit courses for the community. Our division is called “business and continuing education.” This spring, our business and continuing education division decided to offer courses at one of our satellite locations for the first time. Eager to help promote these new classes, I prepared a brochure about them and also wrote a press release to send to papers in the surrounding communities.

Shortly after I sent out the release, one of the reporters who received it wrote me with some follow-up questions. I thought I’d answered his questions well and asked our business and continuing education division to follow up with him as well.

The next day, we were horrified to see an online story with the headline “Temple College to offer first in-person classes at EWCHEC in Hutto.” The first paragraph of the story read, “For the first time since East Williamson County Higher Education Center opened its facility in 2013, Temple College will begin offering in-person courses in Hutto.” The story went on to say that, “Temple College, a community college based out of Temple with satellite campuses in Hutto and Taylor, announced Wednesday that students can now enroll in four in-person classes in Hutto this spring, with the earliest class beginning Feb. 12.”

I immediately contacted the reporter and asked for a correction on both the headline and the first two paragraphs of the story – to clarify that what we were offering was the first BUSINESS AND CONTINUING EDUCATION classes at this satellite location, not the first in-person classes. Fortunately, he responded immediately and made the requested changes.

It never occurred to me that someone would confuse continuing education classes with the regular classes we offer. But I learned an important lesson as a result of this. You can never take for granted that other people understand all the intricacies of higher education – especially young reporters.

Ellen Davis is director of marketing and media relations at Temple College in Temple, Texas. She has more than 30 years experience in various aspects of college marketing, including publications, media relations, social media and website development.

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