by Kathleen Corbalis, APR
NCMPR Social Media Manager
Egg Harbor City, NJ
“I have just one word for you, Kathy …’WinFax.’” Well, that’s not exactly how my NCMPR story started, but it was close.
I was sitting near a crackling fire at the Mohonk Mountain House in New York state sometime in the mid-1990s attending one of my first District 1 conferences. The venue was a rustic inn overlooking a clear blue lake, where a small but enthusiastic group of conference-goers had gathered to learn the latest in community college communication. The exchange took place before dinner one night and gave me my first taste of the networking that would become for me the hallmark of NCMPR conferences.
My guide to this then cutting-edge service (no laughter, please!) was Allen Kovler of Columbia-Greene Community College in New York. As we chatted, I lamented how time-consuming it was to manually fax all of my news releases to media outlets. Allen told me about a new tool, WinFax Pro, that allowed him to program and fax releases right from his computer. Amazing! I couldn’t wait to get back to my college, buy the software and put it to use … which I did, with a little consulting and encouragement from Allen.
Since that day I’ve had many more “WinFax moments,” both from conference sessions and one-on-one conversations. Branding, ROI and geofencing were all unpacked for me at NCMPR events. I can clearly recall the moment, at our 2006 District 1 conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when I first heard the term “social media” and wondered whether it would be useful for community college marketers. Would it ever!
This year’s national conference in Charleston promises equally informative topics in the pre-cons, sessions and roundtables. “Positioning the President,” “Designing for Digital Marketing” and “Using Video for Powerful Retention Messaging” are just a few. But don’t miss out on the spaces in between sessions when you can meet and swap information with fellow attendees.
There may not be a fireplace handy, but sit and talk with someone you don’t know at breakfast or lunch. Follow up with a speaker whose breakout session or roundtable sparked your interest. Chat up a colleague at the social functions or tours. You’ll be amazed what you’ll learn and how willing NCMPR members are to share what they know.
Over the years, I’ve called and emailed colleagues with a host of questions after conferences and they’ve been helpful and generous with their time. When tapped for my expertise, I’ve been happy to do the same. Crisis communication, presidential searches and brand identity standards – we’ve dissected them all. In the process, I’ve made friends, people I look forward to seeing each year at these gatherings that have the warm feel of a class reunion.
So in Charleston or at your next district conference, stay open to the possibilities and, with luck, you’ll spark your own “WinFax moment.”
I have just one word for you, NCMPR colleagues – “networking.”
Kathleen J. Corbalis, APR, is NCMPR’s social media manager and a former NCMPR board member. She retired a few years ago as executive director of college relations at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey, where she served for nearly 30 years. Kathy still keeps in touch with NCMPR member Allen Kovler, who retires this June after 36 years at Columbia-Greene Community College.