VSU recognizes the role of publicity in building the image of the university as a premier academic and research institution. We have learned what works by practicing the art of public relations for VSU, its officials, and its units, especially with the advent of new media platforms for publicity.
This chapter outlines guidelines in how VSU informs about its developments, promotes its accomplishments, strengths, and programs, and publicizes itself in general.
PR Styling and Attributions
This section lays down the style by which VSU says things, like referring to people and VSU units, and communicating with clientele from an official standpoint.
When referring to Persons
The following guidelines shall be used when referring to persons, especially in stories and promotional materials produced by the university.
Prefixes and titles
As an academic institution, the academic stature of a person takes precedence. Thus, the titles “Professor” and “Associate Professor” shall be preferred whenever addressing people with such academic ranks, over any degree or professional title, as discussed in the previous section.
For non-academic staff, we may use “Mr./Ms./Mx.”. If they have doctorate degrees, use “Dr.” or a professional license, like “Engr.” or “Arch.”
If the mention is in the person’s capacity other than his/her academic position, use the appropriate prefix on the first mention. For example “VSU President Tulin” instead of “Professor Tulin”.
Use the complete name of the person. If possible, including middle initial and suffix. Ex. “Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin”
When referring to VSU or other officials, use their position on first mention, then subsequent mentions, use their prefix. Ex. “VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin” then “Dr. Tulin” or President Tulin
When the mention is about their capacity as faculty or scientist, use their academic position. Ex. “Professor Beatriz Belonias, Ph.D., the lead author of the paper…” and only mention their administrative position if necessary. Academic stature should always take precedence over any administrative position.
When referring to VSU Offices, Units, and Designated positions
As a general rule, we aim for clarity in communicating, so we prefer more publicly recognizable terms like “HR Officer” instead of “Director for Human Resources Management” when referring to the position. This also applies to offices with complex names, when a more understandable equivalent is available. For specifics, refer to the guidelines on Unit Branding when referring to VSU offices and units publicly.
When Addressing Messages Online
Staff may be assigned to administer pages for the university and its units, and cater to inquiries. Because these staff represent the university and not their individual identities, messaging online should follow guidelines as follows:
Stay in character, esp. when posting or interacting as a certain official like the president. Thus, it is important to study the official’s persona and language style so his offline persona matches his online persona.
Avoid editorializing/putting personal opinions that do not reflect the official opinion/stand of the university or unit.
When addressing using a personal account
Introduce yourself properly. You can vary your introductions to add a bit of personality.
“Hello Syd, this is Jed Cortes of VSU”
“Hi James! Jed here, a member of the VSU Web Team.”
State the facts or VSU’s position, if there is.
“VSU does not tolerate sexual harassment by any individual.”
If the matter is sensitive, try to bring the conversation to a private channel.
“Hi Samantha, Shang here of the VSU Web Team. Can I send you a private message? Thank you.”
But do not state personal opinion or feelings on VSU’s behalf, unless ordered by proper authorities to state.
Don’t: “On behalf of the VSU administration, I’m sorry that your dog died while crossing the street.”
Only apologize on behalf of VSU or its units or individuals when ordered to do so, and an official channel is not immediately available (like through the VSU page).
Publishing Obelisk Stories and Articles
The UIMC maintains The Obelisk, the official newsletter of the VSU administration.
As a general rule, we prefer news features over straight news articles as they are read more because of human interest. However, straight news articles may be done for breaking news.
The UIMC shall keep a stylebook for Obelisk Stories and Articles in a Communication and Public Relations Manual, which shall be regularly updated as the VSU story style unfolds.
Likewise, a Web Operations Manual shall also be created and maintained by the VSU Web Team, which shall include work instructions in publishing Obelisk Stories on the web and on social media.
People of VSU are called “Viscans” — from the college name of VSU “ViSCA”. We chose this name because it is easier to pronounce and it has already been recognized for a time. VSU component colleges may also use “Viscans” and add the campus, e.g., Tolosa Viscans, to be more specific. No other variations are allowed or recognized (like VSUans, Viscanians, etc.)
Official Statements and Announcements
Official statements may be made to declare important information or positions regarding an important topic or issue. Aside from statements, the university also makes other important announcements. These guidelines aim to ensure statements and announcements reflect the professional identity of VSU as a public institution.
Statements by the VSU Administration
The Office of the President holds the sole authority to approve and publish official statements of the VSU administration and all of its administrative units.
Statements by Academic Units
Because the university respects the academic freedom of its faculty, it is in their liberty to put out official statements as a department or college, especially on issues of social relevance that pertains to their area/s of expertise. However, it should be made clear that the views and opinions in the statement do not necessarily reflect that of the university administration.
Upon releasing a statement, the academic unit shall furnish a copy in the appropriate QMS format to the Office of the President.
There are cases when important announcements have to be circulated urgently, even before its corresponding official document like memos. Only the President has the authority to publicize such announcements through his or her official public channels. Such announcements include, but are not limited to, Class suspensions due to inclement weather, emergency situations, and the like.
For example, the President may make the announcement in his or her Facebook page. The memorandum may follow and should be posted in the university’s Facebook page.
University-wide announcements should be made by through the university website and/or social media pages. Other updates may be coursed through unit pages and channels as deemed appropriate.
Communicating better with Memoranda
Memoranda and memorandum circulars are the official’s way of circulating important information to units and people under their jurisdiction. As such, it is important that these documents are written in a way that makes it understandable and for directives to be easy to comply.
The following are guidelines in communicating through memos:
Explain why. The memo should make the case and discuss first the importance of the pronouncement, directive, or event. A belief statement is a powerful way to convince people to follow your lead. Ex. A memo on using messaging platforms can start with “At VSU, we believe in the importance of communication in the workplace and doing it properly and professionally.” Note, however, that general statements shouldn’t be overdone.
The memo should be written in simple, clear, and straightforward language.
State directives in an actionable manner. If possible, make the steps clear for everyone concerned to follow.
When Quality Management System guidelines, procedures, and records are referred to, the memo should still flow naturally, using footnotes to refer QMS items. Spelling out the codes in the main paragraphs hampers with the readability of the sentences.
The memo comes with the authority of the office. As such, it should be written in a way that inspires and leads with confidence, as opposed to being overbearing (like threatening with sanctions for non-compliance).
Social Media and Online Visibility
The university recognizes the importance of cultivating good relationships with members of its online community. VSU has a strong social media presence, especially on top platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The nitty-gritty of these policies and guidelines shall be spelled out in the UIMC’s Communication and Public Relations Manual and the Web Operations Manual.
In the online social world, hashtags are used to bring together social media posts of similar content. At the university, we use hashtags strategically for specific campaigns.
Here are current hashtags used by VSU:
#iloveVSU - Appreciation posts about VSU, especially sceneries
#ProudViscan - When promoting or congratulating Viscans for accomplishments
#GoingGlobal - For international activities of the university
#VSUCares, #NiKoPaNi - For activities and announcements related to how the university looks out for its constituents, especially students. (NiKoPaNi = Nia Ko Para Nimo or I’m Here for You.)
#EnrollAtVSU - Used during enrollment and campaigns for admission
#PaskoSaVSU - Used during the Christmas Season
#VSUAnniv - For the university’s founding anniversary festivities
#VSUGrad - For the university’s commencement exercises; usually added with the year (e.g. #VSUGrad2022)
New hashtags may be developed in coordination with and used with the approval of the VSU Web Team.
Social media presence of VSU Units
Aside from the university’s official pages in social media networks, its units are also welcome to have a distinct social media presence.
As a general rule, units should follow Unit Branding guidelines in naming pages. Units in the main campus start with “VSU” followed by the name, like “VSU Department of Economics”. For component colleges, “VSU + Campus + Name”, like “VSU Alangalang Library”.
Some names and handles have character limits, so a Twitter handle for example, may prefer “VSU Chemistry / @vsu.chemistry” instead of the VSU Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry (DoPAC)’s full name. Moreover, “Chemistry” is more publicly recognizeable than “DoPAC”, which is an internal term.
Important offices that transact with the public should develop and maintain active social media pages.
The VSU Web Team has the authority to officially recognize and monitor social media pages of offices and units, following their own guidelines. Administrators of these pages should also be strictly monitored. There should be at least one page administrator who is a regular employee of the university. The details of these shall be spelled out in the Web Operations Manual.