Strategic Communications Academy applications due Jan. 18

Have you ever felt like you’re just not reaching people with your message? In an age of distraction when people’s attention is a scare resource, how can you deeply engage others to form meaningful partnerships and increase your effectiveness?

The Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars (SCA) answers these questions and many more. As a partnership between UF’s College of Journalism and Communications and UFHR Training & Organizational Development, this unique professional development program offers an opportunity to elevate strategic thinking, communication skills and professional impact.

Designed for faculty and staff in leadership positions or for thought leaders in their fields of study, the seven-month program helps participants improve their professional performance by using evidence-based communications strategies rooted in psychology, sociology, neuroscience, political science and communications science. Participants will learn to:

  • Build and manage relationships with the individuals and organizations crucial to helping them achieve their goals
  • Hone storytelling skills to inspire support for a department’s mission and vision
  • Develop a strategic communications framework
  • Write with confidence, clarity and charisma
  • Create memorable and compelling presentations worthy of the TED stage
  • Facilitate high-stakes meetings with influencers, such as high-level administrators, policymakers and funders
  • Interact with the news media to build credibility and call people to action
  • Think quickly in challenging communication scenarios
  • Leverage social media to develop a meaningful digital network
  • Use design and systems thinking to create meaningful calls to action

“Communicating and translating our scientific findings for the greater good is one of the most important jobs of public universities; however, faculty, staff and administrators are often not well-prepared to communicate effectively,” said Lisa Scott, associate professor of Psychology, whose research focus is infant education.

“The SCA team worked with me and helped me hone my communication skills and refine my ideas and message, and provided me with a toolset that I can apply to my research, teaching and service commitments here at UF,” said Scott. “At the end of this year-long training, I published an article that summarized 10 years of my research findings in The Conversation. My article has now been republished 38 times in outlets including The Washington Post, The Smithsonian, Scientific American, Quartz, Slate and World Economic Forum. It was translated to French and republished seven times in French-speaking news outlets. . . . I would have never been able to accomplish this without the training and guidance from the SCA team.”

To date, Scott’s article has been read more than 400,000 times.

“It is always inspiring to see how the faculty and staff who participate in our program apply what they learn to building relationships with the communities that are critical to their success,” said Ann Christiano, program director and Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at UF’s College of Journalism and Communications.

Added Scott Blades, assistant director for Training & Organizational Development: “What excites me most about offering this professional development program is how universally impactful it is for both faculty and staff. For the past two years, we have had cohorts of participants bring a wide range of academic and professional goals to the table. Participants receive key communication insights to assist in achieving them, and they leave the program with a solid strategy and a set of tactics they can use to bring about positive change.”

Kathy McKee, manager of UFHR’s Strategic Talent Group and a 2018 program graduate concurs: “My experience in the Strategic Communications Academy was akin to taking an intensive swimming class after paddling around a pool for decades. I always thought I knew how to communicate an important message and prompt action; I learned a whole new way of doing things, discovered new communication muscles, gained a tremendous amount of confidence in what I want and need to share, and acquired a different and better foundation for reaching others. . . . Before SCA, I was in the shallows. After SCA, I may swim the ocean.”

The 2019 program will meet once a month from March through September 2019 for engaging learning activities, coaching sessions with UF communications experts and professional networking. Participants who successfully complete the series will be awarded a certificate of completion.

Applicants must be UF faculty members or exempt staff members. The fee to participate is $1,590, which includes all materials, facilitation fees and meals.

To learn more, visit the program website and complete the online application form, due Jan. 18.