I received the following email from a reader:
“I am reading your Google Idiot’s Guide. My husband teaches in the Legal Studies Department at a local State College. We want more students to find OUR program. Should he create a blog specifically relevant to his own department’s page, or does the blog need to be associated with the college itself through the home page? He is prepared to blog several times a week, maybe even every day if we can help to guide students to his program directly!”
It’s an interesting question and points to one of the most fundamental challenges in corporate and academic life: is your association with your organization a tight one or a loose one?
If you’re a Fortune 500 company, for example, do you want to have your employees blogging under the corporate banner (which therefore risks them saying things that might not be in alignment with the corporate stance on specific topics) or would you prefer them to be independent, blogging on blogger.com, Facebook, etc (where you have no idea what they’re saying and where they can criticize your company or even deny a relationship)?
Academia is even more nuanced because it’s widely accepted that individuals are free agents, moving from teaching position to teaching position, college to college, as it best helps their career. Get too tightly associated with a single academic institution and it’s going to be very difficult to ensure that your reputation travels with you when you take your next job at some other college.
In a large organization, departments can often end up being analogous to individuals too: do you promote your department, possibly at the cost of the entire company being promoted, or do you throw in your lot with the mothership?
Which brings us to your dilemma.
The first question I have is how autonomous are departments within the college? If there’s an existing culture of doing your own thing, then it’s considerably less of a big deal than if it’s a tight, insular organization.
I’m also curious whether the tone in your query of “winner take all” is consistent with how you see this? If you’re blogging on behalf of the student, then the win is them finding the right class and department of study, not them necessarily finding your program.
Without further information, I suggest that you aim for the compromise of having a blog in your own department, but ask the school to link to it from the institution’s home page or other more visible pages.
Let us know what you decide and how it goes!