Occupy Colleges and Student Walkouts: Takeaways for Media Relations Professionals

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This article looks back at lessons learned from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many adjunct and part-time faculty, students at institutions across the US have been organized walkout days in support of the movement.

Because of the public nature of the movement and the extent to which social media have been used to organize student walkouts and raise awareness of the movement, we turned this week to media relations and crisis communications expert Cindy Lawson, assistant to the chancellor for marketing and communications at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. We asked Lawson for practical tips on how media relations professionals in higher education can prepare for and respond to student walkouts.

AI. Cindy, thank you for joining us again. In looking at student walkouts such as those that are related to the Occupy Wall Street movement, what do media relations professionals need to be most mindful of, going forward?

Lawson. With all the social media tools at our disposal, there is really no reason why campus administrators should not be aware of a potential student walkout, including the issues that are causing the walkout in the first place. Not only is it critically important to monitor what is being said about your own institution on traditional news sites; it is even more important to monitor what is being said on social media, blogs, and online forums. Similarly, it is important to monitor what is being said about other higher education institutions as well, because an issue surfacing or a walkout being planned at one institution may very well occur at your own institution.

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