University communications director helps UNL speak in one voice
By Amanda Schmidt
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Meg Lauerman is constantly aware of the things around her. It is, in fact, her job to be aware.
As the director of communications for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lauerman has had to stay on top of more than just one aspect of the university’s communications department. From the news team of UNL to the strategic marketing group, Lauerman has been involved in projects that span the eight colleges across not just one campus, but two.
“Make yourself aware of what might be coming down the road that we have to deal with,” Lauerman said. “I’m usually working with news staff and with my other staff members in strategic marketing on projects for clients across campus and always trying to keep focused on the big picture of what the university’s goals are.”
After 13 years as the director of university communications, Lauerman has established a lasting career at UNL, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. It seems almost as if she was born for the job. But she had lots of other experiences before she assumed her current role. Lauerman has previously served as an assistant professor of advertising for UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications; media specialist for a State Farm Insurance regional PR group; communications director for Nebraska Math and Sciences Initiative; communications director for Lincoln Public Schools; senior producer for Nebraska ETV; and news producer and writer for KOLN – TV.
One of the biggest challenges of her career, Lauerman said, was trying to help the university speak in a unified voice. “When I first came here, we had 350 logos on campus. That’s not going to work for a brand. And when I first came here, the Web was still relatively new here. On one server we had 1.6 million Web pages – none of which matched in anyway or had consistent navigation,” she said. To combat these problems, Lauerman and her team worked to create a unified logo and a website for anyone looking for information about the university.
Her department has accomplished more than simply a unified logo. One of its latest projects has been an update on the university’s website. Lauerman mentioned the creation of a modified website that would be more streamlined to incorporate the “Your Story” marketing plan UNL uses in recruiting potential students. An example of the new version is the Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts page. The page can be navigated to view the real life stories of six students and their journey at Nebraska.
For Lauerman, the job has many pluses. “No two days are the same. You wake up in the morning and you don’t know what challenges or problems you get to solve. A lot of it is brand new territory and you just figure it out.”
Although many would see someone in her position as the star of the department, Lauerman was quick to correct that assumption. “It takes coordination of a whole team. You can’t just do it through one voice,” Lauerman said.
Lauerman’s view on connections doesn’t end with her team. Her advice to students includes building relationships with those already in the business. “Go talk to people who can help you understand the day-to-day challenges. Have courage to find them,” she said. Her last bit of advice is to learn to write well.
“People write as they think. If you can think with clarity, you can write with clarity,” she said. “So the more clear you can be in your writing, the more clear you can be in your thinking, I think those fundamentals will always serve you well.”