Community spirit: How #HESM teams are supporting each other in the coronavirus outbreak

By Posted in - Influence on March 19th, 2020 1 Comments A visual map of conversations around coronavirus in the higher education community.

As the higher education world starts to get to grips with the reality of what coronavirus is going to mean for our institutions, we’ve already seen some stellar work from communications staff dealing with a barrage of enquiries from anxious and unsettled students, colleagues, and the public.

But as well as the great work that comms teams are doing to address public concerns, these committed pros have also been offering each other support, advice, and words of encouragement through social media back channels.

I wanted to find out who these #hesm heroes were – who was offering the support that really helped others? Who was sharing their experiences and advice with the community?

To do this, we’ve mapped the conversations taking place on Twitter around higher education communications and coronavirus, and we’ve identified some of the people driving those conversations. If you’re involved in higher education comms, especially social media, you’ll probably want to follow or connect with these people to make sure you’ve got an additional support network around you in this – or any other – crisis.

A visual map of people talking about coronavirus in the higher ed community on Twitter.

The main accounts we can see in the map are these:

Jon-Stephen Stansel
Rainbow Wong
Joel G Goodman
Campus Sonar
Emma Gilmartin
Meaghan Fikes
Carrie H. Phillips
Rachel Putman
Meg Bernier Keniston
Tasha Quinn
Cat Prill
Thought Feeder Podcast
Tony Dobies
Peter Aitchison
Thomas Deneuville
Liz Gross
Jason Boucher
Karyn Adams
Dayna Bradstreet

I’m going to go into a little detail on some of these now, but you probably won’t go far wrong just by following everyone on the map…

There’s a big central account on the map, around which most of the other accounts are congregating, and that’s Jon-Stephen Stansel from Austin. He’s been doing a great job of sharing practical advice for university comms staff, as well as offering wellbeing and mental health tips, and suggesting resources for people to make use of.

One of those resources is the higher education coronavirus social listening briefing, created by the team at Campus Sonar, led by Liz Gross (the teal circles to the bottom of the map). This is a hugely helpful report documenting the ongoing coronavirus discussions taking place online from all kinds of sources – but specifically tailored to those discussing it in relation to higher education.

Rainbow Wong at the University of Hong Kong (seen in blue) has been sharing advice and guidance throughout the outbreak, and she recently presented a webinar hosted by higherEdExperts on what she and her team had learned over the past few months about dealing with a crisis.

Meg Keniston at St Lawrence University in New York (on the right of the map, in green) wrote a whole thread on what universities should be doing to prepare comms teams for COVID19.

Over in the UK, we can see that Emma Gilmartin and others in the team at the University of Glasgow are taking time to share their experiences with the wider community, and are being praised in a Wonkhe article for their efforts both visible and invisible.

So take a moment to seek out those on the list – follow them, take their advice, and if you need help, ask the #hesm or #hecomms community – there’s always someone willing to share their experiences. And we’re always here at Pickle Jar as well – we’ve been there and we know what it’s like to be the ones behind a university account. If you need a friendly ear, just let us know.

(1) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Liz Gross - Reply

    March 19, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    This is some of the content we need right now. Thank you for doing this, Robert.

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