One of the most important duties of a public relations director is to communicate with the press and other outlets in order to publish new information in a timely manner and to manage relationships with media outlets while making the organization in question look good.

 

During the last year, those responsibilities were not consistently executed.

 

Interim Director of Public Relations Valerie Wardlaw has moved on after a year at the position. She took on the position during one of the most controversial times for the college. The divide between the administration and faculty, the looming accreditation process and the commencement fiasco were all small fires that Wardlaw was in charge of trying to put out.

 

By all accounts, Wardlaw was a very nice person. But one of the biggest criticisms of Wardlaw’s tenure as PR director was the lack of information and access.

 

When searching for a new director of PR, the college needs to remember what the position is intended for.

 

The main job of any public relations department is to make an organization look good. During the last year PCC did not look good at many points.

 

A clear and concise voice from the college seemed far off and getting information in a timely manner sometimes felt like pulling teeth, particularly for student journalists.

 

When reporters went to the PR office, they were often told that the director was in meetings and were asked to leave messages that often went unreturned.

During the commencement debacle of 2014, the college was heavily criticized for the messages it was sending out.

The PR Director should have taken control of the situation and made sure that only one consistent message was being conveyed, instead of the finger pointing and blame that was being thrown around. That alone might have saved the college a great deal of embarrassment.

In the search for a new Director of Public Relations, PCC needs to remember that managing a college and dealing with the press as well as the many campus departments is a massive undertaking. The search needs to start with someone who is accessible and is willing to step in front of the proverbial bullet when the storm of bad press comes over the horizon.

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