Remembering the Early Days: Before the Web and Cells

May 10, 2014

Remembering the Early Days: Before the Web and Cells

There was no Internet, no websites, no Facebook, not even cell phones. It was 1985, the year I first got involved in NCMPR (it wasn’t even called NCMPR back then, but more on that later). I had presented a session on marketing at a CASE conference with my team from Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). Dick Fonte, who later also became an NCMPR president, presented another session with his team from Triton. As we talked after, he told me about a “new” PR/marketing organization re-forming for two-year colleges and asked me to get involved. I told him I could probably attend the conference if I was on the program. So I did present at the 1985 Denver national, with 60 participants. Our district conference, the only district that had one then, had less than a dozen attendees. Yes, we’ve grown! While district director, I also chaired the Paragon awards that year. That was before NCMPR had Becky Olson, so all 1,000 entries came to our mailroom at Tri-C. I think they still remember it. We also hadn’t thought yet to limit the entry size to what would fit in a notebook or a photo of it. So I got safari hats (It’s a jungle out there!) and my favorite -- a stuffed aardvark from Mark Olson at Aims as part of his clever campaign around a made-up sports team. It was Mark’s idea for the Paragons a few years before that really helped this organization grow. During my time on the board, we realized that the name of the organization then -- National Council for Community Relations -- was not really descriptive. As we thought about a better name, we knew the words “marketing” and “public relations” needed to be there. It was in the pool in Orlando that several of us started chanting N-C-M-P-R, N-C-M-P-R and decided it had a nice flow to it. And the name was born. As president in 1990, I selected New Orleans for the national conference. Since I love special events, I brought a four-piece “second line” band complete with “drum major” into our reception at the hotel, and then proceeded to march all 400 of our participants down Bourbon Street and on to the Mississippi River where we boarded a sternwheeler. The 400 was the largest conference attendance to date, representing a 50% increase. It was also the first year that every district had a district conference. And we kept trying to communicate, with our constituents and each other. Since this was before the Internet, we created a phone tree for important messages, requests from media, etc. I would call the district directors, and they would then make calls down the line in their districts. It’s hard to believe as you read this on the Web today. It was also during this term that NCMPR and AACC created National Community College Month and developed its first communication packet. Finally in my term, we created the Richard Petrizzo Career Service Award and named it after a colleague from DuPage College and former NCMPR president who led a prize-winning team and was a mentor to many of us. Little did I know that 23 years later I would be honored as the recipient of that award. During the years that followed my presidency, I continued at Tri-C for a total of 25 years there. When I “retired” in 1995, I formed my consulting company and watched NCMPR continue to grow as I attended each of the conferences as an exhibitor and presenter for the next 17 years, along with my husband Larry who had retired as a marketing professor and joined our company. During my first year as a consultant I was honored to present the first series of one-day marketing workshops in each of the districts. Having these was the brainchild of former NCMPR president Steve Lestarjette, and they ran successfully for several years before being replaced with today’s summer workshop. A lot has changed. What hasn’t changed is what drew me to NCMPR in the first place. It remains an organization of friendly, talented professionals, willing to share ideas and network as they communicate with constituents and each other on the very important and special institution of two-year colleges.

By Sandra Golden

Cuyahoga Community College
Scottsdale, AZ

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