Join Jim Gregory, media relations director, and Natalie Vizuete, social media director, of UNC-Chapel Hill as they provide insight into a topic that affects all universities – rapidly emerging campus PR issues. Sure, prior planning is critical, but with an endless list of possible issues that could erupt at any moment anywhere across the country – not just on your campus – what processes do you have in place? How as a communicator will you quickly address these rapidly evolving situations?
Jim and Natalie will focus on two incidents in particular that instigated new methods and processes at UNC-Chapel Hill to enable the University to more quickly react. The first incident involved media mischaracterization of a freshman seminar as one that taught about 9-11 from the terrorists’ perspective. The second incident involved competing pro- and anti-abortion rallies on campus. The focus will be not so much on the specific incidents, but instead on the processes that evolved from them. This episode is produced in partnership with the Public Relations Society of America Counselors to Higher Education. PRSA CHE members are encouraged to participate to share their experiences.
Kent CassellaAssociate VP for Communications and Senior PR Strategist
Kent, a retired U.S. Army officer, has held a variety of leadership positions in government affairs and has directed media strategy around the world. Prior to joining the MSU team, he served as director of public relations at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A graduate of West Virginia University’s communications school, he also holds a master’s degree in journalism from Marshall University and an MBA from Touro University International. Kent is responsible for leading the development of university-wide media communications strategies, implementing media communications initiatives, measuring the impact of those initiatives, and collaborating to ensure strategic alignment with all communications activities.
Jim is currently the media relations director at UNC-Chapel Hill. He oversees a six-person team that has expanded the university’s media outreach while simultaneously addressing complex topics such as the academic irregularities currently under NCAA investigation, challenges to academic freedom and campus diversity issues, to name just a few. Before joining the University, Jim transitioned from the military after a 22-year career, most recently working at the Pentagon where he served as the spokesperson for two undersecretaries of Defense (intelligence and policy). While there, he also advised senior defense officials on the communication aspects of such notable issues as the 2011 bin Laden operation, the 2013 response to North Korean missile threats and the re-initiation of military operations in Iraq and Syria.
Natalie is the social media director at UNC-Chapel Hill. She manages a three-person social media team and oversees content on eight official UNC social media platforms that connect current and prospective students and their families, alumni, faculty, staff and general UNC fans to Carolina. She and her team also work with communicators across campus to offer best practices and strategic direction on social media. Before coming to Carolina, Natalie was a reporter for nearly 10 years for The Associated Press, working in St. Louis and New Orleans covering general news, in Baton Rouge, La., and Austin, Texas, covering state government and politics, and in Raleigh, covering higher education. She has also been a freelance writer and worked briefly in politics.