Policies and Guidelines
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All universitywide policies can be found at Policies at Virginia Tech and are searchable by topic or keyword. The policies listed below are relevant to professional communications and marketing activities.
Acceptable Use of Information Systems at Virginia Tech
Access to computer systems and networks owned or operated by Virginia Tech imposes certain responsibilities and obligations and is granted subject to university policies and local, state, and federal laws. University communicators are obligated to follow this policy when using university-owned computer equipment and networks.
A brand is a reflection of the organization, a representation of its reputation. These brand guidelines encapsulate the image, primary messaging, and various ways we represent the university. Since our brand launch in 2017, the university has continued to update its identity brand standards to ensure a consistent look and style in the marketplace. Consistency among all units of Virginia Tech solidifies name recognition, a fundamental element of institutional positioning.
Usage of the University Name
In order to maximize name recognition and to consistently identify the university to various publics, this policy establishes the accepted references to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
University Chartered Student Organizations (UCSO)
UCSOs often will use official branding and/or the Virginia Tech name as part of their organization, and as such, they must represent themselves in line with the brand.
This policy applies to anyone flying on university-owned property or operating university-owned aircraft. It includes specific protocols that depend on the purpose and location of your flight. This policy applies to photos and videos obtained via drone, and it is important to note that visuals gathered in violation of this policy must not be used on professional Virginia Tech media and alongside marketing and editorial content. For specific questions, contact MAAP at UASsafety@vt.edu.
Email Policy (PDF)
This policy provides guidance for the utilization of the Virginia Tech Daily and the Virginia Tech Student Edition emails. These are services that provide a single, coordinated, and consistent process of distributing university announcements, notices, and information to all university employees and enrolled students. While e-mail provides a quick and easy way to reach many people, massive communications may quickly be perceived as spam, overwhelm recipients who receive so many e-mails each day, and overload the university’s e-mail distribution systems. The frequent use of e-mail to reach large segments of the community will lose its effectiveness as a communications tool if not properly managed. University communicators must help with this coordination effort by working within the approved email systems and processes.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Policies and Procedures
University communicators create records and may be requested to provide records in the event your work is within the scope of a FOIA request. Learn the FOIA policy, and understand your role and responsibility with compliance. Questions? FOIA@vt.edu
Responding to Virginia Freedom of Information Act Requests (PDF)
This policy provides guidance for monitoring and responding to Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Records Management (PDF)
As part of the responsibilities around FOIA, university communicators need to engage in proper records management. This is an administrative technique that provides management and control over the files and records of the university to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. It includes activities associated with the creation, movement, retention, retrieval, duplication, safekeeping, and destruction of records.
Social Media Policy (PDF)
The university authorizes the creation and use of university social media accounts, provided their use is professional, protects the reputation and brand of the university, aligns with university priorities, and complies with other Virginia Tech policies and applicable state and federal laws and regulations. It is guided by the Virginia Tech Principles of Community. This policy outlines the responsibilities of account owners and touches on personal versus business use of social media by Virginia Tech employees. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales, Solicitation, and Advertising on Campus (PDF)
In the interest of providing a productive living, learning, and working environment for students and employees and protecting the institution’s authorized business activities and interests, the university has established policies and procedures for the approval of commercial, fundraising, informational, and advertising activities. University communicators must provide guardrails to ensure that content produced does not violate this policy by giving "free advertising" to businesses on university-owned platforms and channels.
Travel Policies and Procedures
As part of their regular work, university communicators may travel outside of the area where they primarily work. There are several policies and procedures to be aware of regarding vehicle usage, reimbursements, and global travel. See a full list of travel-related procedures.
Global Travel Policy (PDF)
The university’s commitment to responsible global engagement informs its Global Travel Policy (GTP), which is designed to promote the health, safety, and security of members of the university community (employees and students) when receiving visitors from abroad and when traveling outside of the United States of America for university-supported purposes, including but not limited to: study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, competitions, fieldwork, recruiting, etc. This policy applies to any university-supported travel and to students, employees, and other approved participants (hereafter referred to as “group members”).
Ground Transportation Procedure (PDF)
This procedure contains guidance on whether to choose public transportation, privately-owned vehicle, state-owned vehicle or for-hire conveyance for your work-related travel.
State Vehicle Management Policy (PDF)
This policy establishes responsibilities and procedures to ensure proper operation, purchasing, disposal, inventory, and maintenance of all state vehicles. It outlines the responsibilities of the drivers of the state vehicles.
Hiring Freelancers and Contractors Policies
When considering whether to hire freelance or contract communications or marketing work to aid your team, ensure you're following the university's procedures. You can get more information about freelancers on the how-to and FAQs page.
University Contract Signature Policy and Procedures
University communicators are not authorized to sign contracts with vendors or freelancers themselves. This includes accepting Terms & Conditions when using a cloud-based software program. All contracts must be reviewed by the university's legal counsel office. This policy outlines who is an authorized signatory and which offices assist with contracts.
Direct Payments Procedures (PDF)
In the course of their work, university communicators may wish to hire freelance or contract workers. Some payment transactions, due to the simplicity of their nature, can be processed in an expedited manner. Also, there is a group of purchases that do not require competition and/or are not subject to state or university procurement regulations. This policy outlines that process.
Guidelines and Best Practices
General guidelines and best practices for conducting communications work at Virginia Tech.
If campus communicators' work involves alumni relations, student philanthropy, or donor solicitations, they should contact Annie McCallum to ensure their work is aligned and supported with central efforts.
Following common operational practices is paramount to aligning communications work at Virginia Tech. As a general rule, the university community should start with their college or unit's respective professional communicator for assistance with communications needs. Central University Relations provides strategic frameworks, processes, and support to the colleges and units to assist their work. For questions about processes, consult the how-tos and FAQs.
Crisis and Emergency Management
Virginia Tech’s Crisis and Emergency Management Plan (CEMP), is a reference tool used to provide guidance to campus personnel responding to an emergency. This plan contains the roles of Communications and Marketing in crisis and emergency situations and who is designated to coordinate communications efforts around those situations.
For its team members and for the community of Virginia Tech communicators, University Relations defines guidelines so that the university’s published content (written stories, videos, social media content, and more) does not inadvertently endorse external businesses or services. Please see the External Use of Virginia Tech Trademarks in the Virginia Tech Licensing Guidelines for more guidance.
Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Statement for Publications
Federal laws and regulations require the university to include equal opportunity (non-discrimination) and reasonable accommodation statements on materials made available to students, applicants, employees, program participants, and the public.
General accessibility information
Virginia Tech is committed to equal access and opportunity for all students, employees, and visitors to our campus. The university provides dedicated resources to assist those with disabilities and to address barriers to access, both physical and digital. University communicators should ensure that official communications are made as accessible as possible to be inclusive of all audiences.
Choose Accessible Learning Materials (C.A.L.M.)
This is one avenue for achieving the goals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In the context of teaching and learning, UDL is one way to actively include people with disabilities, and at its foundation makes learning available to the broadest possible audience. An additional benefit of choosing accessible learning materials is the usability that it brings to the entire audience. You can access several resources here, including captioning assistance and accessible presentation slides.
Web accessibility is the practice of making websites usable for all people. University communicators should learn and use web accessibility best practices when creating websites and web content.
The Virginia Tech Media Relations team works to connect university communicators, faculty, and campus newsmakers with the media. University communicators should partner with this team if they are interested in pitching stories to members of the media and/or if they are contacted by members of the media. The Media Relations team also manages the on-campus broadcast studio.
Preparing a faculty member for a media interview
If a faculty member is to be interviewed in the media, the Virginia Tech Media Relations team is here to help them and other campus newsmakers prepare for the interview.
If campus communicators' work involves principle partnerships, they should contact Albert Raboteau to ensure their work is aligned and supported with central efforts.
Social media accounts support a range of goals at the university and must preserve and uphold Virginia Tech’s brand identity, integrity, and reputation.