Campus comms: Spreading the word on quelling H1N1

How two universities use social media and more basic means to keep students and faculty in class.

How two universities use social media and more basic means to keep students and faculty in class

Despite careful preparations by university communicators and doctors, for thousands of students around the country, going back to school this year has meant the usual meal plans, classes, parties—and H1N1.

Most cases of that strain (sometimes called “swine flu”) have been mild to moderate so far, but with so many students in close quarters, university communicators have their hands full trying to get messages about prevention guidelines—and, soon, about vaccines—out to everyone.

Absolute saturation is key, communicators say. Not every student reads official university e-mails, picks up the school newspaper, or pays attention to signs around campus. For some schools, such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, tried-and-true methods get the message out. For others, like Loyola University Chicago, technology and social media have taken the reins.

All of the H1N1 communications channels don’t have to be cutting-edge, says Robin Kaler, associate chancellor of public affairs at U of I.

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