Paul Redfern Talks Transparency and Having a Thick Skin

St. Lawrence University’s Paul Redfern reinforces the value of a liberal arts education, the importance of open communication, and the need to have a thick skin in marketing and communications.

By: Paul Redfern
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Paul Redfern has served as the Vice President for University Communications at St. Lawrence University since January 2018. Previously, he spent 17 years at his alma mater, Gettysburg College, where he had roles in athletics and admissions before moving to the communications office and spending the last six and half years of his career there as the Executive Director of Communications and Marketing. When he’s not working, you can find Paul spending time with his wife, coaching his kids’ sports, and squeezing in the occasional round of golf.

I wanted to work in higher education because…

I believe in the value of a liberal arts education. I am a product of the liberal arts and think the world desperately needs citizens who can think critically, communicate, and understand a diversity of perspectives.

The marketing tool I can’t live without is…

Data. I believe in data driven decision-making, and in marketing, we have access to more data now than ever before. But as leaders in our industry, it is important to figure out what data is important and how you are going to incorporate it into your strategic planning.

Transparency and communication is a real key. One common thread that has run throughout the teams that I have managed is that people like to know what is happening and why.

In the next five years, I’d like to…

Know that I have made a positive impact at St. Lawrence University.

My biggest professional mistake was…

This is a tough one. There was one incident during my time in digital communications at Gettysburg where we sent an email intended for alums to admissions prospects, and the admissions prospects got the email intended for our alumni. It wasn’t a great day, but it was a good professional lesson in attention to detail.

I start my day at…

6:15 am reading Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle daily update. I also check how the Mets did if I didn’t stay awake until the end of the game.

The secret to a student succeeding at my school is…

Getting involved. St. Lawrence University is a place where students don’t put a limit on where or how they learn. They see every opportunity as a chance to ask questions and put bold ideas to the test.

I admire the marketing at…

Gettysburg College. I admire what the team there has done since I left, and they are a wonderful group of people doing great work. But if that is cheating (since it’s my old team), then I would say Drexel University. I love the “Ambition Can’t Wait” campaign they are currently running. It is smart, strategic, and well done all the way around.

The biggest challenge facing higher education marketers is…

Communicating the value of higher education in a noisy marketplace.

My biggest professional achievement is…

Seeing members of the various teams I have worked with learn, develop, and grow as marketing professionals.

The future of higher education will be…

Bright. I am an optimist.  

A key to my success has been…

Hard work and dedication. I was once described by my colleagues as persistent. I also try to use every new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow my skill set.

One thing I’ve learned about managing teams is…

Transparency and communication is a real key. One common thread that has run throughout the teams that I have managed is that people like to know what is happening and why. The more transparent that you can be, the better. I have found that over-communicating is much better than not communicating enough. Bringing in donuts or bagels every once in a while helps, too.  

The hardest part of my job is…

That almost everything we do is public, and almost everyone has an opinion about how well we executed a particular project. You need to have a thick skin and be open to constructive feedback that makes you and your team better.

I love my job because…

I get to work with talented people who care deeply about our mission.

Paul Redfern

Paul Redfern

Vice President for Communications

Paul Redfern was named Vice President for Communications at St. Lawrence University in December 2017. He is a member of the senior staff and leads an award-winning communications team as well as oversight for North Country Public Radio. He is responsible for leading efforts to strategically shape and communicate the compelling story of the St. Lawrence community of students, faculty, administration, and alumni.


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