College communicators gather at Sweet Briar for semiannual conference

CCA Board at Conference Center
The CCA board of directors, including Sweet Briar’s VP for communications and enrollment management, Melissa Richards (right), in front of the Conference Center

Higher education communications professionals from across Virginia and Washington, D.C., came together at Sweet Briar College on June 13 and 14 for the College Communicators Association summer 2019 conference.

Thursday afternoon’s optional pre-conference workshop had participants hone their playful sides through collaborative projects using Legos, magazines, glue sticks and colored pencils. The result: an impressive assortment of ransom note poetry, plus the realization that there is creativity in everyone.

Liz Gross and Melissa Richards
Liz Gross (left) with Melissa Richards

On Friday morning, Campus Sonar CEO Liz Gross delivered the keynote address, “How Social Listening Can Impact Communication Strategies in Higher Ed.” Gross, a consultant with 13 years of experience in higher education leadership and communication, showed the 100 attendees how to leverage intelligence from online conversations. Her experience as an active listener and observer of conversations on social platforms had taught her that “the internet is real life,” Gross said, and that it could serve as an “always-on focus group” to gather actionable information.

Gross has spoken about marketing, social media, assessment and higher education at South by Southwest EDU and Interactive, ACPA, HighEdWeb, the Penn State Social Media Summit, the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, the UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar, the CASE Social Media and Community Conference and Summer Institute on Communications and Marketing, eduWeb Digital Summit, the American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference, and others.

Melissa Richards welcomes conference to Sweet Briar College attendees on Friday morning
Melissa Richards welcomes conference attendees to Sweet Briar College on Friday morning.

The remainder of the day consisted of presentations, conversations and roundtable discussions that covered topics from AP style and alumni stories to media relations, social media and web design.

CCA’s winter conference will be held later this year at another member institution.