Beginning this year, the Public Relations Department at Emory & Henry College no longer exists. Emory’s PR department started off as a media relations department and eventually became more online based with the increase of internet popularity, and as of this semester the public relations department has been dissolved amidst a restructuring of E&H’s staff and inner workings. The department was directed by E&H faculty member Dirk Moore for 22 years, but Moore says that the disappearance is nothing to be alarmed about.
“We want to integrate marketing and relations into several different departments, and ultimately eliminate the name ‘public relations’ because it is a little outmoded in how it is perceived and how it operates. What we did to achieve this was we put two people in admissions and two people in advancement to try to incorporate them into the functions of those offices more so that they can learn how they work and we can all work to bring in more students,” explained Moore. In this line of thought, the integration of Emory’s PR department into other campus departments will help those offices have easier access to the marketing skills that the public relations department once offered. There is now an Office of Communications under the Advancement Office, headed by Jamie Smyth.
“When it comes to public relations, as it relates to higher education, there are two key factors: Public communications and marketing. Our goal is to apply these concepts to admissions and advancement to further promote the school and increase the number of new students coming in,” said Moore.
Emory & Henry’s PR department first got its start back in the 1980s with Director Patsy Trollinger. Since its inception, the department has always tackled the challenge of marketing a small, liberal arts college in the changing digital age–all while maintaining the College’s professional image and preserving its historical value. One of the many successes the department has had in this challenge is the completion of E&H’s website and handling the nominations of the more prestigious teachers’ awards.
Now holding the title of Director of Internal and Integrated Communications, Moore stated that he is confident in this new change as other schools have made this same transition with their own public relations departments.
“We could have kept the department without any real problems. The only thing is that we wouldn’t have been able to break up the work of communication. Our goal is to get everyone who is involved with promoting the school in some way to realize that we’re all public relations and we all have a role to play,” said Moore.
– Jeffrey Cowart