New staff positions created to improve public image.
In an effort to boost communications and shape the university’s image, USC is spending about $600,000 more per year and overhauling much its public image.
“In the past, the university hasn’t reached its full potential of communicating the great story we have within the state, nationally and globally,” Pastides said. “You get what you pay for, and we were underperforming when it came to communications.”
Pastides said extra spending on communications was an especially important investment as the university gears up to launch a fundraising campaign later this year.
Lawrence was heralded by USC officials as a fiery agent of change with the acclaimed expertise in social media and Web communications. She was hired
for $230,000 a year and has sparked considerable interest at the university and within the department as she has made dozens of changes in her first year.
“I was hired to build a division,” Lawrence said.
USC is currently working to redesign its website, has created new television commercials and is finishing a branding effort to create a more unified logo and image.
“We want consistent messaging to what we call ourselves and what we say about ourselves,” Pastides said. “Over the past few years, we have let a lot of inconsistency creep into our message and our marketing, and we want to become much more consistent.”
Lawrence has created six new positions, most recently posting a job for an associate vice president for media relations.
The new hire is designed to build and foster relationships with national news outlets while increasing USC’s focus on blogging and social media, Lawrence said. The person hired to fill the job will be the university’s chief spokesperson and second-in-command within the department. USC’s website says the job’s salary would be “commensurate with experience,” and Lawrence couldn’t provide any more specific details.
“When you look at the gamut of what’s in our division on any given day, I’ve got so many disparate functions that I needed a No. 2 person,” Lawrence said.
Current spokeswoman Margaret Lamb will stay on at the university, becoming USC’s assistant director of the department of news and internal communications. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
USC has also created a director for strategic marketing position to build advertising and a part-time director for presidential communications to help Pastides craft remarks, filled by Pete Killian and Bud Ferillo, respectively.
Currently, USC is hiring a media relations professional to focus on science and is looking for a director of Web communications, a position created in the past year. Much of the funds for these jobs came from budget reorganizations within the division, but Lawrence laid off three other employees earlier this spring.
Lawrence said the changes came after she joined the university last year and evaluated its communications goals, conducting surveys with various USC audiences including students, parents, legislators, industry CEOs and community members.
Over the next few years, she also wants to “develop a state relations plan that connects USC effectively to our elected officials” and “further build USC’s reputation nationally through a strategic national media relations and social media strategy,” according to USC’s website.