Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran said the public relations department has vastly improved since 2013 through the reorganization and addition of staff members, specifically focusing on media relations, social media and content development.
“There was no real modern architecture built around the evolving nature of communications and higher education,” Curran said.
The University has paid $996,566 since 2013 to hire Edelman — a marketing and communications firm — to prepare materials in anticipation of the release of the Wainstein report.
“At this point in 2013, the investigation was underway and the public relations department was understaffed and unequipped with resources to tend to daily operation activities while preparing to address the Wainstein report,” Curran said.
Curran said the University has greatly reduced the need for Edelman since the department completed its new set of executives by hiring Director of Media Relations Jim Gregory in Feb. 2015.
“We called upon Edelman to help us because we just simply didn’t have enough people to handle all the things that we had to respond to during all of 2014,” Curran said. “We couldn’t stack up fast enough, and we needed help.”
Curran said the costs of public relations at UNC are in line with the costs at other universities and that it’s important to consider the costs of marketing and advertising that extend beyond public relations when assessing these figures.
Lois Boynton, a public relations professor at UNC, said it can be difficult for organizations to deal with the expectations of public relations officials to be accessible and responsive. She noted a growing demand for constant information sometimes exceeds departments’ capacity to efficiently engage with the public.