Policy Steward: Vice President for Administration


  • Purpose
  • Background
  • Policy
  • Staffing
  • Logos and Unit Identity
  • University Stationery
  • Social Media
  • Councils and Committees
  • Further Information
  • Cross References


    The purpose of this policy is to establish the lines of responsibility for the University's branding, marketing, and communications efforts. It applies to all colleges, campuses and budgetary units of the University.


    Effective communications are central to the success of any enterprise, and Penn State is no exception. Whether it is through advertising, media relations, brochures and direct mail, promotional videos, TV commercials, web pages, or other means, the consistent application of strategies to promote and protect the Penn State brand is of vital importance to the institution.

    The decentralized structure of University management creates dozens of administrative areas with communications needs, often leading to conflicting and inconsistent messages about the University. Successful marketing strategies and communications efforts cannot ensue from isolated or ad hoc tactics. For the University to properly communicate with a consistent voice, it is essential that the communications activities of Penn State be coordinated through one central office.


    It is the policy of the Pennsylvania State University that the development and application of marketing and communications strategies across the breadth of the University rest with the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    The Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications is charged with oversight for the development of marketing and communications strategies, and for coordinating the external communications activities of the entire University. No marketing consultants, marketing research firms, social media consultants, advertising agencies or graphic design firms may be hired without the prior approval from the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    All external communications activities of the University will be coordinated through, and approved by, the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications. These activities will include, but not be limited to:


    The hiring of staff responsible for marketing, communications or media relations will be done in consultation with the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications. The Vice President for Strategic Communications, or his/her designee, will participate in the interview of the final candidates for such positions.


    Individual unit logos generally are not permitted. Exceptions and special needs for unit identities will be handled through the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications. No logos, word marks, or identity symbols incorporating the name of the unit or University may be developed without prior approval from the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    Information about the University’s institutional graphic identity system, and guidelines for using the University mark, is available at http://visualidentity.psu.edu. Guidelines for using the Intercollegiate Athletics logo and other symbols, is available at:http://ur.psu.edu/stylemanual/graphic_identity/graphic_identity.html


    University stationery, including letterhead, envelopes, and business cards will conform to the standard designs and formats provided through the University’s Multimedia and Print Center. All orders for University stationery must be obtained from the Multimedia and Print Center. Special designs, changes to the standard formats, additional artwork, or logos other than the University mark generally will not be permitted for standard University stationery items. Any changes or additions to the standard University stationery formats will be provided or approved by the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    Additional information about University stationery and placing online orders is available at: www.multimediaprint.psu.edu/onlineordering/


    Penn State uses various forms of social media as a way to communicate with its many audiences. In order to accomplish this, Penn State and its campuses, colleges, and departments have official social media accounts, including but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, blogs, etc., These accounts are only to be used for the purpose of communicating and promoting an individual college, campus or unit as well as the University at large, and are under the jurisdiction of the University. As such, they are subject to all applicable University policies. Misuse of official social media accounts by an employee, including posting racist, sexist or other discriminatory posts, can lead to disciplinary action.

    Employees may not use University accounts as their own personal accounts. Employees’ personal social media accounts may not give the appearance of officially representing the University or an individual college, campus or unit. Permission to use any Penn State logo or trademark on a personal or non-University account must be obtained from the Office of Licensing Programs. Further information on use of University services and equipment for personal social media accounts can be found in Policy FN14.

    The Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications will monitor and assist in coordinating the use of social media by all University units. Guidelines for the use of social media are available that discuss best practices to use these forums effectively, protect the University’s reputation, enhance the University’s image, and help units and staff follow University policies.


    To facilitate the integration of marketing activities across the University, the University Marketing Council will include representatives from Intercollegiate Athletics, Enrollment Management, Outreach, the Alumni Association, Hershey Medical Center, University Development, Information Technology Services, Public Broadcasting, a campus location, and an academic college. The council is convened and chaired by the Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    The Philadelphia Branding Council will serve to coordinate the marketing and branding of Penn State in the Philadelphia area. It will include representatives from Penn State Abington, Brandywine, and Great Valley campuses, the Philadelphia Recruitment Center, University Outreach, Undergraduate Admissions, the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the Smeal College Executive program in Philadelphia. The council is convened and chaired by the Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    The Pittsburgh Marketing Council will serve to coordinate the marketing and branding of Penn State in the Pittsburgh area. It will include representatives from Penn State Beaver, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, and New Kensington campuses, the Pittsburgh Recruitment Center, Outreach, and Undergraduate Admissions. The council is convened and chaired by the Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    The Social Media Council is convened by the Office of Strategic Communications with representatives from units with a large social media presence. The council will coordinate efforts to maximize audience participation with the most popular social media. The Council works to explore new technologies and look at ways to help effectively integrate social media platforms across the University as a way to protect, manage and strengthen the Penn State brand.

    The University Health Communications Council works to enhance Penn State's reputation in medicine and biomedical science through effective collaboration among the communications offices of Penn State's various health and life sciences colleges and campuses. The council also strives to increase awareness of Penn State managed health services available to members of the Penn State community and the public at large. Council membership includes representatives from the College of Medicine, College of Health and Human Development, School of Nursing, University Health Services, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, University Strategic Communications, and the University's Research Communications Office.

    Marketing Communicators Network Representatives (formerly University Editor Representatives)

    Marketing Communicators Network representatives are appointed to serve as liaisons to the Department of University Marketing. Marketing Communicator Network representatives are responsible for ensuring that marketing planning and practices in their units are carried out in line with University policy, and communications are developed according to established University guidelines. Each campus and college will be represented in the network, along with administrative units as appropriate. Chancellors and deans are responsible for the appointments in their units; senior administrators are responsible for appointments in the administrative units. Appointments will be targeted to staff that direct the marketing communications function in their units. The Marketing Communicators Network is managed by the Department of University Marketing in the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

    A listing of the representatives serving in the Marketing Communicators Network is available at: http://ur.psu.edu/stylemanual/publications_program/pub_editorrep.html


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of Strategic Communications.


    Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

    AD03 - Conducting Educational Programs Using the Name of the University,

    AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices, and

    AD08 - Purchase of Advertising

    AD25 - Video Productions (Formerly Audio/Visual Productions for Public Relations and Information Purposes)

    AD54 - Web Page Design and Image

    Effective Date: November 13, 2014
    Date Approved: November 10, 2014
    Date Published: November 13, 2014 (Editorial change - February 25, 2016)

    Most recent changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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