Can You Make It Pretty? (formerly Peer and Simple) spotlights best practices and tips for community college marketers, communicators, and leaders. Podcast co-hosts Stephanie Reyna and Matt Radcliffe kick off each episode with a convo to make you think, laugh or commiserate. Have a topic or interviewee suggestion? We'd love to hear it! [javascript protected email address].

Special thanks to GradComm, our 2023-24 sponsor!



How can the college's marcom team find the best student stories on campus? How can they tell those stories without falling back on tokenism, tropes or stereotypes? Sally Cameron, an NCMPR president emeriti and former vice president of college communications at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and Liz Cooper, associate director of public relations at MassBay Community College in Massachusetts, share how they do it. 
Season 5, Episode 1

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Chelsea Hayes is the marketing communication specialist at New Mexico State University Alamogordo, and she's a staff of one. She shares her tips for small teams, including how to set boundaries and advocate for more help.
Season 4, Episode 12

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Season 4, Episode 11

Three topics that come up A LOT in marketing, especially at community colleges, are too many boring meetings, dealing with clients who think they're marketers, and how to handle creative burnout. We discuss tricks to combat these areas with a duo of marketing experts, live at the District 4 conference in Colorado Springs on Oct. 13, 2023.

Guests: Chris and Jenny Schell, co-founders of Design Rangers, a Colorado Springs design firm


Season 4, Episode 10

Four NCMPR president emeriti, who have a combined 103 years of marketing and communications experience at community colleges, discuss how they stay excited about the job, how to beat imposture syndrome, how marketing can get a say at the college president's table and a whole lot more. Recorded live in St. Charles, Missouri, at the joint District 3/5 conference Oct. 6, 2023.

GuestsJeff Ebbing, from Southeastern Community College in Iowa, who was NCMPR president in 2022-23; Lynn Whalen, from Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois, who was NCMPR president in 2019-20; Heather McDorman, who is retired from St. Charles Community College in Missouri and was NCMPR president in 2010-11; Alan Campbell, who is retired from Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and was NCMPR president in 2001-02; and guest host Jeff Julian, from Harper College and NCMPR's 2023-24 president


Season 4, Episode 9

Saddleback College wanted to launch a targeted digital marketing campaign, and it wanted to ensure it got the details and audience right. As an HSI – Hispanic-Serving Institution – the California college needed to speak its audience's language, both literally and figuratively. Learn how Saddleback selected its vendor, the research conducted, and the (successful!) results of the campaign.

Guest: Jennie McCue, executive director of marketing and communications at Saddleback College in California


Season 4, Episode 8

How can you get the most bang for your budgeting buck with your vendors? And build the best relationship so you're not stuck in the awkward position of having to break ties with your vendor? With experience on both sides of the college/vendor relationship, Cheryl Broom shares some tips for community colleges to ensure a fulfilling, fruitful relationship with their vendors. 

Guest: Cheryl Broom, CEO of GradComm, the 2023-24 sponsor of Can You Make It Pretty?


Season 4, Episode 7

In college, NCMPR's 2023 Communicator of the Year thought she was going to be a dentist. Like so many community college marketers, though, her path changed. Fiona Lytle shares her path to two-year college marketing and legislative releations, some tips for marketers on working with government officials and the importance of creating a personal brand.

Guest: Fiona Lytle, chief communications officer/legislative liaison at the Colorado Community College System and NCMPR's 2023 Communicator of the Year


Season 4, Episode 6

If the bias is unconscious, how can we ID it? And if we can't ID it, how can we address it? DEI trainer TaChelle Lawson defines unconscious bias, identifies how to spot it (especially in our marketing), and walks us through how to address it. 

Guest: TaChelle Lawson, president of FIG Strategy & Consulting in Nevada


Season 4, Episode 5

Before he found himself as a chief of staff, NCMPR's 2023-24 president worked in marketing, yes. He also worked in construction, in radio, for the American Library Association, and filing taxes in a cat-filled basement. Learn how NCMPR continues to help him do his job better ... and meet our new podcast cohost, Matt Radcliffe, digital marketing strategist at Pikes Peak State College in Colorado.

Guest: Jeff Julian, chief of staff at Harper College in Illlinois and NCMPR's 2023-24 president


Season 4, Episode 4

At this live taping at NCMPR's national conference in Orlando, Florida, a trio of new Leadership Institute grads share some of their takeaways from the 10-month program, including how much leadership is about personal growth and the importance of having a team whose strengths complement your own.

Guests: Laura Inlow, marketing and public relations manager at Lewis & Clark Community College in Illinois; Jennifer Pue, strategic communications planning manager at Alamo Colleges District in Texas; and Joe Vinduska, public relations and social media specialist at Barton Community College in Kansas


Season 4, Episode 3

One way marketing collaborates with student services at Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts is by approaching areas like admissions and enrollment and saying, “You tell us the stats.” It's how marketing ensures the message focuses on the right students – and what they care about. Plus, it’s Jeff’s final episode co-hosting with Stephanie … so things get a little off the rails.

Guests: Patrick Stone, director of strategic communication and marketing, and Jonathan Fonseca, digital marketing specialist at Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts


Season 4, Episode 2

In September 2021, Duolingo had 50,000 TikTok followers. As of late January of this year, it had 5.7 million. Zaria Parvez manages Duolingo’s global social media and was named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in social media last year. She's also this year's closing keynote at NCMPR Under the Sun, and she shares with Peer and Simple how she achieved that monumental goal. Hint: You can't achieve it if you don't trust your audience.

Guest: Zaria Parvez, global social media manager at Duolingo


Season 4, Episode 1

For the first time in three full seasons, we're talking exclusively about ourselves. Learn the best ways to get involved with NCMPR, how the board of directors works, and what keeps members coming back year after year. Plus, our guest – and cohosts! – share how they got involved in the first place (in at least one instance, it might date back to the hospital nursery). Welcome to season 4!

Guest: Natalie Daggett, associate director of district operations for NCMPR


Season 3, Episode 12

The LGBT+ Club at Inver Hills Community College wrote a letter to the administration with four requests to improve the LGBTQ+ resources on campus. It took four years, but the college implemented all four changes. Club sponsor Dr. Amy Zsohar shares the importance of persistence -- and identifying the right people on campus who can help -- in achieving a goal that requires change on such a systems level.

Guest: Dr. Amy Zsohar, LGBT+ Club faculty sponsor, cofounder of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group and a speech communication instructor at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota


Season 3, Episode 11

More than 95% of the population in Laredo, Texas, is of Mexican descent, and Spanish is the dominant language. At NCMPR's District 4 conference in Houston, former radio DJ Obed Guerrero shares his proven tips and suggestions for producing a successful radio spot in Spanish and in English. 

Guest: Obed Guerrero, community and media relations director at Laredo College in Texas


Season 3, Episode 10

Mike Barzacchini learned a lesson during the heart of the pandemic, and it's something he brings to his team daily: The importance of self-care at work. At NCMPR's District 3 conference in Chicago, Mike shared how he prioritizes his employees' well-being – plus how administrators can better connect with employees, the necessity of generosity in leadership ... and that time Mike had eight dogs in the house at once.

Guest: Mike Barzacchini, the director of marketing services at Harper College in Illinois


Season 3, Episode 9

This year's NCMPR national Rising Star never thought she'd find herself working in social media: She rarely got on Facebook and used Instagram only sometimes. Now, she's leading breakout sessions on TikTok for her peers and has her eye set on hitting 1,000 followers for college account. Learn how she found herself in community college marketing (spoiler: the path took her through Jakarta, Indonesia) and what the future of social media just might look like.

Guest: Elissa Kojzarek, communications and social media manager at Elgin Community College in Illinois


Season 3, Episode 8

The new president at Langara College in British Columbia, Canada, began on June 6, but the marketing office started prepping for her arrival back in January. Learn why preparations kicked off so early, plus the steps Langara has taken to ensure employees, students, the community and key stakeholders get to know their new leader. We also spotlight the most vital to-dos, specifically for smaller marketing staffs ...  just in case you don't have the resources to tackle every single one of those steps.

Guest: Mark Dawson, public affairs manager at Langara College in British Columbia, Canada


Season 3, Episode 7

NCMPR worked with Graduate Communications to conduct Data Dig 2022, the first-of-its-kind survey of community college marketers. It reveals the issues we face in the field, the racial and ethnic makeup of NCMPR membership, and the staffing areas most lacking on our teams. Learn about the the survey's key findings and ideas for how NCMPR can best help members moving forward. Plus, in the newly named Chit Chat, Jeff and Stephanie share their tips for naming projects – everything from marketing campaigns to bands.

Guest: Cheryl Broom, Graduate Communications CEO


Season 3, Episode 6

Oakton Community College in Illinois recently received a $1.5 million grant to help support its Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, who make up about 23% of Oakton's student population. Learn how Oakton promotes the grant and supports Oakton's large AAPI population – including some thoughts about why it might be time to start a subject-specific podcast at your own institution.

Guest: Dear Aunaetitrakul, senior program manager for the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution grant at Oakton Community College in Illinois


Season 3, Episode 5

Northern Essex Community College knew it needed its audience to learn about its COVID safety precautions. Too bad that audience was sick of hearing about COVID. So the college turned to an unexpected avenue to spotlight all the news about HEPA filters and social distancing: interpretive dance. Northern Essex shares how the idea came about, how it was executed and the surprising fact about that actor in the video, which you can view here. Plus, our hosts ponder the usefulness of a little um'ing. (All you um-counters out there, we might have a small gift in store for you!)

Guests: Allison Dolan-Wilson, vice president of institutional advancement, and Trevor Stair, creative director, at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts


Season 3, Episode 4

NCMPR's new president takes the reins each March at its national conference. In this episode, we meet the org's new leader, who chats about visiting THE Joshua tree, mediocre sushi and how he went from NCMPR blogger to 2022-23 president of the board (and how you can do the same). Plus, Jeff welcomes his new cohost, Stephanie Reyna, a long-time NCMPR member, recent Leadership Institute graduate — and honorary Jeff.

Guest: Jeff Ebbing, director of marketing and communications at Southeastern Community College in Iowa and NCMPR 2022-23 president


Season 3, Episode 3

The first cohort of NCMPR's 10-month Leadership Institute graduated in March, and three graduates discuss what they learned, how the Institute is helping them do their jobs better, and why you should be a part of the 2022-23 cohort. This special live edition of Peer and Simple was taped at NCMPR's national conference in Denver.

Guests: Leslie Ouellette, associate director of integrated marketing and communications at Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts; David Barnhardt, director of communications and student recruitment at West Virginia Northern Community College; and Stephanie Reyna, new media and marketing specialist at Saddleback College in California


Season 3, Episode 2

At Norwalk Community College in Connecticut, 7% of the student population was born in Ukraine. To craft NCC's response to the conflict in Ukraine, marketing and the diversity and inclusion committee are working together. Learn about NCC's programming so far, the importance of both active and passive marketing and how to determine which world topics receive this kind of attention. 

Guests: Pracilya Titus, diversity and inclusion committee chair, and Mario Haimindra, marketing and PR associate, at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut


Season 3, Episode 1

Community colleges started to contact Dr. Kevin Christian about their chief diversity officer positions back in 2017, but the push grew after George Floyd's murder. Learn about the importance of a DEI team (in lieu of just one person), good data and a meaningful budget. 

Guest: Dr. Kevin Christian, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C.


Season 2, Episode 12

"What happens when you go to Washington is, you get recruited." After serving as a press secretary under President Bill Clinton, Kerri Glover was recruited by a PR firm repping "pretty much every education association you have ever heard of." Then she worked for a tech firm. And Ogilvy. And the Sierra Club. Glover shares how that resume informs her decisions and work in community college marketing.

Guest: Kerri Glover, community relations and marketing director, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina


Season 2, Episode 11

Dr. Joshua Fredenburg is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, TEDx speaker and leadership and diversity consultant, as well as the president/founder of the Circle of Change Leadership Experience for students. A keynote at NCMPR's District 1 conference in October, Fredenburg shares some leadership tips, how he gets motivated when he's just not feeling it ... and why he his youthful dream job included "FBI agent."

Guest: Dr. Joshua Fredenburg, president/founder of the Circle of Change Leadership Experience


Season 2, Episode 10

Katie Norris' path to Ozarka College started when she enrolled as a student. And Kim Lessner came to Tyler Junior College after retirement. As District 4's Rising Star and Communicator of the Year, respectively, Norris and Lessner chat with Peer and Simple guest host Matt Radcliffe at their district conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Norris shares how her experience as a community college student gives her an important perspective in marketing the college, and Lessner discusses how her past life in corporate marketing informs the work she does for TJC.

Guests: Katie Norris, director of public relations & marketing at Ozarka College in Arkansas; Kim Lessner, vice president and chief operations officer at Tyler Junior College in Texas; and guest host Matt Radcliffe, District 4 director and digital strategist at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs


Season 2, Episode 9

What lessons from journalism inform community college marketing? How can young professionals assure they have staying power at a new gig? North Dakota vs. South Dakota? Erin Wood, who chats live at District 5's conference in Omaha, Nebraska, shares insight into this year's NCMPR Leadership Institute cohort – the first! – and a bit about her state's history.

Guest: Erin Wood, director of college relations at Lake Region State College in North Dakota


Season 2, Episode 8

Steve Jessmore and Mark Carriveau have a combined 55+ years of photography experience. They discuss their careers, what community college marketers can learn from photographers and easy-to-follow tips for non-photographers to capture great art. This episode of Peer and Simple was recorded live on Oct. 5, 2021, at NCMPR's District 3 conference in Grand Rapids Michigan.

GuestsSteve Jessmore, freelance photographer from Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Mark Carriveau, electronic imaging specialist at Elgin Community College in Illinois


Season 2, Episode 7

Finding the right music for your video promotions or commercials can be tricky. How can you find a tune that fits with your college's branding? Where can you find a clip that's affordable? Graphic designer and professional drummer Bret Figura talks about the importance of your institution's audio brand and how he wrote and performed the score for a Moraine campaign last year.

Guest: Bret Figura, graphic designer at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois


 Season 2, Episode 6

Marketing fails: We've all faced them. Sometimes, no matter how many eyes study a project, a typo or an unfortunate photo still gets through. Or no matter how many times you host an event, you miss how much a factor like the weather can affect turnout. Four marketing professionals share some of their biggest marketing fails in this special video episode of Peer and Simple. Listen on your favorite device, or watch this episode on YouTube.

Guests: Special guest host Jeff Ebbing, director of marketing and communications at Southeastern Community College in Iowa and NCMPR's 2021-22 vice president/president-elect; Wendy Trujillo, advertising and social media director, and the supervisor for the Communication Center and mailroom, at College of the Canyons in California; Barb Dreger, director of college marketing at Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin; Melony Martinez, director of marketing and public relations at National Park College in Arkansas; Brittany Lippert, associate director of marketing at the Kentucky Community & Technical College System


 Season 2, Episode 5

Dr. Toya Webb is a life coach, a TEDx speaker and NCMPR's district 3 director. She discusses the importance of vulnerability in the workplace, plus some of the lessons she learned from her doctorate research, about the impact of microaggressions on Black women in leadership.

GuestDr. Toya Webb, chief marketing officer at Elgin Community College in Illinois


 Season 2, Episode 4

NCMPR's 2021 Petrizzo Award winner spent more than three decades at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts. Sally Chapman Cameron discusses her early days of marketing, how she got the most out of her team and why she just can't leave two-year colleges behind.

Guest: Sally Chapman Cameron, retired vice president for college communications at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts


Season 2, Episode 3

Minneapolis College is just down the street from the spot where George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. The college's vice president of advancement and marketing communications and its interim diversity officer discuss how the college crafted its messaging to the campus and larger community  all while assuring communications stressed the necessary heart and emotion.

Guests: Deanna Sheely, vice president of advancement and marketing communications, and Patrick Troup, vice president of student affairs and interim diversity officer, at Minneapolis College


Season 2, Episode 2

NCMPR's 2021-22 President Debra McGaughey shares how she got involved with NCMPR, why she wanted to move up to the executive board and her experience so far on the council's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Plus, she gives a peek into her experiences as a professional journalist and the memoir she's writing.

Guest: Debra McGaughey, director of communication services at Houston Community College Central


Season 2, Episode 1

Three community college marketers who are still working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic tell how their year has been going, what they miss about working in an office and how they've stayed connected to colleagues. 

Guests: Greg Harris from Portland Community College in Oregon, Lisa Brosky from Pima Community College in Arizona and Shannon Rooney from Community College of Philadelphia


Season 1, Episode 12

In 2020, both NCMPR gold Paragon awards for writing went to Seattle Central College. The winners discuss their favorite writing tips and what makes a memorable, award-winning story.

Guests: AK Sterling, partnership services manager, and Roberto Bonaccorso, director of communications, at Seattle Central College


Season 1, Episode 11

Host Jeff Julian chats candidly with friend, colleague and new NCMPR Executive Director James Walters.

Guest: James Walters, NCMPR executive director


Season 1, Episode 10

NCMPR's board president tells how he found himself in a leadership position within NCMPR, how it has benefitted him professionally and how members can get more involved.

Guest: Juan Gutierrez, director of marketing and public relations at Orange Coast College in California


 Season 1, Episode 9

The help the University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville has gotten from its students and NCMPR has turned into a win-win for everyone. 

Guest: Hannah Keller Flanery, communications and marketing coordinator at the University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville


 Season 1, Episode 8

How in the world do you roll out 16 website redesigns in five weeks? That's a good question for NCMPR's 2020 national Rising Star.

Guest: Jackie Watson, director of web strategy at Kentucky Community and Technical College System


Season 1, Episode 7

A self-described "data nerd" talks about how his college has embraced a data-focused approach to marketing that's positively impacting enrollment.

Guest: Daniel Ramirez, director of public relations and marketing at South Texas College


Season 1, Episode 6

Learn how Fox Valley Technical College juggles a wide range of marketing projects while steadfastly protecting brand consistency.

Guest: Barb Dreger, director of marketing at Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin


Season 1, Episode 5

In the 2019 Paragon awards, Kellogg Community College took home three golds and the Best in Show award. Get an inside look into what makes for a gold-winning entry.

Guest: Eric Greene, chief communications officer at Kellogg Community College in Michigan


Season 1, Episode 4

Longtime NCMPR members share their expertise about community college marketing and PR.

Guests: Terri Giltner, director of marketing and communications at Kentucky Community and Technical College System; and Heather McDorman, vice president for marketing and student life at St. Charles Community College in Missouri


Season 1, Episode 3

Hear how NCMPR's 2020 National Communicator of the Year has survived 30 years in the industry and how she stays open to discovering new and better ways to tell her college's story.

Guest: Kathleen Cabral, director of marketing and communications at Leeward Community College in Hawaii


Season 1, Episode 2

With the highly successful Redefine U podcast to its credit, the marketing team at Anne Arundel Community College knows a thing or two about digital storytelling. Get a sense of what they're doing and how to replicate their success at your college.

Guest: Dan Baum, executive director of strategic communications at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland


Season 1, Episode 1

Members from NCMPR's executive team discuss the communication challenges and changes their colleges are making to adapt to closed campuses, online classes, cancelled events and an uncertain future.

Guests: Lynn Whalen, NCMPR president and executive director for public relations and marketing at Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois; Juan Gutierrez, NCMPR vice president/president-elect and director of marketing and public relations at Orange Coast College in California; and James Walters, NCMPR secretary-treasurer and director of marketing and communications at Skagit Valley College in Washington

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