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K-State Today

June 13, 2014

Communications and agricultural education department news media staff to co-locate in Dole Hall

Submitted by John Floros, Daryl Buchholz, Kris Boone

This communication is intended to bring you up to date with recent changes in our communications and agricultural education department news media group, the reasons for the office relocations, and the plans as we move forward. We also want to address questions we received.

Since Dole Hall opened in 1991, some communications and agricultural education department news media staff members have been located there. Now accommodations are available, and we have the opportunity to move nearly all of our news media staff members together to Dole Hall this summer. Mary Lou Peter remains in Olathe, working closely with media in Kansas City. Administrative and reporting structures have not changed.

This move benefits K-State Research and Extension, or KSRE. First, it allows us to share the updated resources available in Dole Hall while we work to deliver our scientists' and specialists' research and educational programs to a variety of audiences. It allows us to more closely collaborate with the Division of Communications and Marketing, or DCM, which may enable us to expand our radio reach and will provide us with metrics to help us better understand what media are using our work. Given the importance of investing public resources wisely, we must use metrics to determine how we best reach our target audiences.

In addition, it helps us eliminate duplication, gain efficiencies, learn from one another, and produce more and better news products.

Importantly, the K-State Research and Extension news group remains focused on providing the best possible news media service to support the mission, grand challenges and efforts of K-State Research and Extension.


In 2007, a task force within the department, chaired by Eric Atkinson, studied our situation. At that time, the news media group was divided into print news, video and radio, with staff located in three buildings. One recommendation of that task force — administratively combining the three groups — was completed later that year. Another recommendation was co-location: "Co-location of the converged media unit would seem more practical for unit cohesiveness and management, as it would provide for the informal sharing of ideas and opportunities to collaborate." While co-location was not possible at that time, it became part of the departmental strategic plan.

Numerous times through the years, we discussed space allocations in Umberger, McCain and Dole, and have reorganized in Umberger several times to use our space more efficiently. Still, we were unable to find enough room to accommodate the McCain-based staff and the Dole-based staff into one location.

In the 2012 communications and agricultural education department external review, the review team also saw the need for co-location, but further recommended that the department strengthen its relationship with both Division of Communications and Marketing and central information and technology services.

Related to the Division of Communications and Marketing, the team wrote, "Effective communication and coordination is required between these two service units to understand roles and responsibilities as well as opportunities to collaborate." Because the Division of Communications and Marketing was a recently formed group at the time, the review team further wrote, "The burden to establish a positive long-term relationship will primarily fall on the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education." Thus, we began more intentional collaborative efforts. Collaboration became a strong theme in our departmental strategic plans.

We had already participated in the K-State One Voice initiative begun by the Division of Communications and Marketing in 2010. Making another step, our department led the establishment of the communicators' brown bag in 2012, providing an opportunity for campus communicators to network with each other, to develop professionally and to break down barriers among groups.

Elaine Edwards, leader of KSRE news media, worked to include members of the DCM news group into our KSRE news media team meetings, and DCM news media leaders included members of our team in their meetings. We've worked together on story packages and included one another in professional development. We have co-staffed the communications group on the presidential initiative in global food systems, which recognized the department's specialization in this area. Much of the national KSRE media exposure in the past few years has come from the assistance of the Division of Communications and Marketing.

The KSRE marketing efforts, which have been dormant for some time, have been resuscitated by leaders in the Division of Communications and Marketing. Based on audience research this spring and summer, we plan to bring forward the KSRE marketing plan in fall 2014. It is critical that our marketing plan align with that of the university because the vice president for communications and marketing is charged "to fully integrate campus image delivery and to increase the impact and efficiency of institutional communications and marketing initiatives."

Next steps

For several years, we had sought to co-locate KSRE news media staff in Umberger and/or Dole halls. In 2014, Jeffrey Morris, vice president for communications and marketing, suggested finding a common location for all the Kansas State University and KSRE news staff members. A few locations were considered, and the space in Dole aligned with the space already allocated to the KSRE news media staff. The action to co-locate staff met a long-standing need.

While seeking co-location space has been a long-term effort, we were informed of space in Dole Hall and an offer to assist us from DCM in April. Elaine Edwards began working with Robert Nelson in Dole Hall to identify locations for all staff members. The physical office numbers in Dole Hall are Deb Pryor, 119 (no change); Kevin Block, 117A (move within Dole); Randall Kowalik, 122; Larry Jackson, 124 (move within Dole); Eric Atkinson, 125; Elaine Edwards, 126; Dan Donnert, 127; and Katie Allen, 127. Phone numbers are transferring with the staff members.

The moves will take place this summer, probably an office or two at time. The plan is to have everyone moved a few weeks before the fall semester begins.

Can we do more, and can we do better?

Yes and yes. K-State Research and Extension helps build the Kansas economy and improve the lives of Kansans. Compared to other states, the budget and personnel allocation to our news media efforts is and has been very strong, and each one of our staff members works hard. We can work more effectively. Many would argue that we haven't been able to "tell our story" as effectively as we may have the potential to do.

So as we co-locate KSRE news staff members, can we more effectively communicate the value of K-State Research and Extension? If we can tap into the resources of the Division of Communications and Marketing, will that help us accomplish this goal? We do not know the answers to these questions yet, and it will take six months to a year after we co-locate staff to know the answers. But we plan to use metrics to improve as a more proactive approach, and we will make changes if needed for the best outcome and most effective communication for K-State Research and Extension.

What changes for me?

Not much. When you want to get a story out, you can still call the person you have called for years. In addition, our staff members will still be calling you for that interview, and we expect that you will mentor your new colleagues to work with us in providing information through media. The mission is the same: Serve the people of Kansas and provide information about K-State Research and Extension.

Later this summer, we plan to hold open forums or visit departments as needed to clarify issues. If you would like us to attend a departmental meeting, please let Kris Boone know.

Submitted by:

John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension
Daryl Buchholz, associate director of K-State Research and Extension
Kris Boone, head of the communications and agricultural education department