As a proud University of Queensland alum, I am interested in reading emails the University sends me. However, this one sent at 4am on November 5th had me perplexed:
Despite its ambiguity, I was able to determine the following from this email:
- Something went wrong with a student’s admission
- It was investigated but no one was at fault
- Even though no one was at fault, 2 Vice-Chancellors have resigned
- Despite them leaving, they are good people
- There are going to be more investigations
- We got through the floods, stick with us
My first reaction was: UQ why are you sending me this email? I have no idea what is going on but now you have made me suspicious.
I forwarded this email to Adam, my fellow Alum asking if he knew what was going on and he too responded with “I have no idea either. Now I’m all curious and want to look into it.”
We both did.
Turns out, on midnight November 4th (4 hours before I received the email), the courier mail posted this article about the investigation. From the article’s content, it is difficult to determine whether it was written from an actual interview or from the email I received. It was not clear what the scandal was. All that was clear was that there was a scandal. Considering the large size of UQ’s email list, the emails would have been deployed over several hours, one list at a time, which could mean students would have received it between the 4th-6th of November.
I can’t help but ask myself: Did the email spark press coverage or was the email a risk mitigation tactic responding to the imminent press coverage?
The web marketer in me asks: why would a University make the mistake of sending its large database of a scandal before it hit the press? A large mistake for a renowned university with a strong journalism program, who’s Alum likely works within Australian press circles. Not only did the University instantly notify their most trusted social network, they notified their most influential. If they needed to release something, why not just post the response on their website rather than proactively notify their entire database?
Could this have been a wise risk mitigation tactic igniting and preparing their trusted networks to come to their defence during an impending public investigation? As a Social Media Manager accustomed to dealing with sensitive topics, this does not align with effective risk mitigation. The tone and language used in the email, the unwillingness to admit fault and most importantly the lack of authenticity, incite distrust in a reader. This is not a way to mobilise your most likely advocates. But I could be wrong.
I would love to hear what others think, especially UQ alum: Did this email stir distrust or are you ready to defend our Uni?