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K-State Today

November 10, 2015

From V.P. Jeff Morris: KC leaders reinforce value of 'One Voice'

Submitted by Jeff Morris

The Kansas City Royals' recent World Series championship is an immense source of pride. To paraphrase a line from a speech by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, that week we were all Kansas Citians. In terms of branding, these positive events help position the entire region as major league.

Speaking of Kansas City, a group of its civic leaders regularly participate in a leadership exchange with other major cities. Representatives from the region's major universities participate in this great learning opportunity along with elected officials, business leaders and economic development professionals. The Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, or KSUIC, which leads economic development efforts for the university, is part of this exchange.

The group works to present a unified front for economic development, which they call "One Kansas City." The leaders realize the futility of trying to build a brand story for 120 individual cities, a dozen or more counties, plus a bevy of regional organizations. The discord of competing messages and visual identities does not serve anyone's interest well. We, as well, cannot realistically expect the outside world to differentiate between brand messages for four K-State campuses, 10 colleges, 70 academic units and dozens of administrative departments.

So what does this mean? It supports the "One K-State, One Voice" strategy for communications we have pursued in recent years. The one voice strategy also is essential for economic development activities. Business leaders on the leadership exchange visit were quick to point out the need for talent, innovation, and training across all major industries. If their needs cannot be met locally, they will search globally. The more we can coordinate outreach activities as a university and speak with one voice, the more successful we are likely to be.

Just as the leaders in Kansas City learn valuable lessons from seeing how other cities tackle tough challenges, we can learn from listening to others about how we are perceived and what they want to hear from us.

We appreciate your continued support of our efforts to speak with one voice.