Tech’s new media gatekeeper

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cphillips

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An early summer afternoon finds Carrie Phillips and I sitting in her second floor Browning Hall office, right off the University Relations video studio. Phillips is the Director of New Media, and I am unsure of what that means.

As we begin talking about her work, one thing becomes clear: You can’t really pin down Phillip’s job, because it changes too often. Phillips is a woman on the move, always on the cusp of something new.

As the Director of New Media for Tech, she manages all the official Arkansas Tech social media accounts. And her skills have been met with reward. Phillips’ innovative Meet Jerry Instagram takeover posts received an award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. A GoPro video of Jerry was featured on socialmediaforcolleges.com earlier this year.

“Our goal is to make that dog [Jerry] the most photographed dog in the South,” Phillips tells me as she hands me her iPhone.

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Managing the university’s web presence consists of more serious matters, too. Phillips is also responsible for posting university closings and answering questions brought on by inclement weather. The nature of her work keeps her plugged in well past traditional office hours.

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“You can’t work at your alma mater if you don’t love it,” explains Phillips.

Her enthusiasm for her job and her alma mater are apparent even as she describes late nights of updating Arkansas Tech followers on weather-related closures and finding the answers to questions about how extracurricular events will be affected.

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“You can’t work at your alma mater if you don’t love it.”

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Phillips also produces videos for Tech. These videos include campus event coverage and interviews with various students, faculty and staff. In this, too, Phillips excels. A touching video that she shot during a graduation ceremony was featured on The Today Show in December 2013.

Phillips began her video production work as an undergraduate at Tech. After her bachelor’s degree, Phillips joined Hearst Television as a News Producer. It was here she realized the growing importance of “new media”.

“The Hearst Vice President came in and talked about how Hearst was changing from Hearst Television to Hearst Digital Media and really focusing on doing a lot more of the digital side of things, and the idea of that’s really where the future was for this company,” Phillips said.

The Hearst executive would then go on to tell her that the company’s research predicted the number of local news stations would be cut in half over the next fifteen years.

“Hearst was realigning their strategy,” she said. “And that was kinda my ‘ah-hah’ moment. The way people interact is very much changing.”

When the opportunity to join the University Relations opened in August of 2008, Phillips made the switch from traditional media to new media.

Phillips continues to think of innovative ways to engage people on behalf of Tech. In addition to her social media and video production prowess, Phillips also uses tech-savvy tools such as virtual tour technologies and website heat mapping, which helps her track what is most important to users of the Tech website.

These tools and extensive research by university relations and the office of information services were used in the redesigned Arkansas Tech website, which was announced in August of this year.

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