BY JAMIE LISANTI
It is a Monday morning at Saint Peter’s College, and students are dragging into classes in McDermott Hall. One student, Michele Lacey, is heading to her web design class, where she will learn how to build websites for the internet, using frames, codes, and font tags.
Fast-forward twelve years. It is another Monday morning in McDermott Hall; however today, Lacey is instead walking to her office, where she does all of her work as the College’s Director of Web Strategies and Communications.
With the advancement of the internet and computer software, Lacey’s responsibilities have also expanded since she was hired in 2009. She presides over the college’s website, manages several of the school’s social media accounts, generates the content on the LED screen on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, as well as other online advertising campaigns for the school.
“It’s a challenging and exciting field which requires constant research and professional development,” said Lacey of her various roles. “Expectations for the web are always on the rise and better technologies and trends emerge every day.”
It may be a difficult task to manage a college’s website, social media accounts, and other marketing efforts, but Lacey is composed and remains unflustered, even as the webpage on her iMac is unable to load.
A graduate of Saint Peter’s in 2000, Lacey was actually a political science and business major, but was always very interested in graphic arts and photography. At first Lacey served as International Student Coordinator, and later in 2004, Saint Peter’s hired an off-site Web services company to develop, design, and update the website, which was growing in demand and user traffic.
Because of her knowledge in graphic arts and web design, and as an Saint Peter’s alumnus, Lacey was chosen as webmaster during this time of change for the college. She quickly needed to be an expert in the college’s goals, objectives, and branding, and maintain the website after it was created.
“Initially, I was responsible for needs assessment, chairing the Web Advisory Committee, planning the site’s architecture, training each department editor, establishing web related policy, and serving as the liaison between campus personnel and the Web Services team,” Lacey said.
As social media is becoming a critical part of the college for both prospective and current students, Lacey works closely with Enrollment Services and other departments to support marketing efforts, as well as managing the Saint Peter’s Facebook page, Tumblr, FourSquare, and YouTube accounts.
She stresses that with social media, “engagement is key” and one of her main goals is to demonstrate a genuine opinion of Saint Peter’s to the public, which she does through moderating comments, uploading student videos, and addressing complaints.
“It’s not marketing to me, it’s customer service. These people are not paid to write, they are writing honestly and the whole point is to create communication and get people interested,” Lacey said of the College’s Facebook and other social media accounts she manages.
Already with a lot on her plate, Lacey voluntarily attends several of the College’s events and captures beautiful photographs on campus, many of which are used on the website or social media pages. When she is not at Saint Peter’s, Lacey spends her time at home in Rahway, New Jersey, with her husband, Todd, who works for the television show Law & Order: SVU. She also volunteers as web master for the Wild Baby Rescue Center, Inc. She also does special web design projects and photography for friends and family, which helps her to unleash her creativity and work outside of her comfort zone.
As the construction workers place steel beams in preparation for the opening of the new student center, Lacey is currently spending her time redesigning and building a new, better functioning website for Saint Peter’s, which will accompany the school’s expected university status in the near future.
“The site will remain behind the scenes until the official, dedicated launch date,” Lacey said, “But I can tell you the site will have better functionality, it will look better and this time will give us the chance to reassess our whole site architecture now, so we can reorganize it and make it better in the future.”