Blake Wood said, “My job is really fun, I feel, because I get to educate the students about what’s happening on campus and I get to tell UIS’s story. Where we are at right now with the growing campus, I think that there is just a lot of great stories to tell.”
Wood, the assistant director of public relations, manages social media for UIS, which includes their Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, as well as co-managing their Instagram. He also creates the Leadership Lived video profiles and what would be considered other special videos, released on social media.
Another part of his job is to assist in managing media relations and write press releases for the university.
“Blake is such a valuable asset to the campus relations team and the university,” said Derek Schnapp, director of public relations. “His multi-talented skills has enhanced the visibility of our university.”
“Several people on campus recognize Blake because of his high-quality Leadership Lived videos that he produces,” Schnapp continued, “but many may not know he does such a great job with the social media face of the university. He stays on top of the latest trends and the always changing landscape with social media to make sure we are ahead of the game.”
“Even when I’m not here, I’m kind of tuned into social media,” said Wood.
He does not have a lot of down time due to this dedication, but when he does, he spends it with his family.
His family includes his wife of just over two years. This has affected his life in countless ways, including the fact that she is a member of the Illinois National Guard. They have been through one deployment since they have been together, which, as stated by Wood, “was tough, but we got through it. Everyone here at UIS has been very supportive of everything.”
Wood is from Franklin, Illinois, where his graduating class totaled about 32 students. He then continued his education at Eastern Illinois University, graduating in 2006 with a bachelor’s in communication studies.
Wood started his career at WCIA as a part-time meteorologist. Moving to the Springfield branch of WCIA, he accepted a reporting position and continued reporting for WCIA for two years until beginning at UIS.
Wood said, “A lot of what I do is trying to educate students about events that are happening on campus through social media.”
After spending some time in his position at UIS, Wood started his master’s degree in communication, which he completed in 2013.
“It was definitely a challenge to go back to school after that time off, but I am glad I did it. I think the master’s program did a great job and helped me a lot in my current job as well.”
Angela Try, a coworker of Wood since 2014, said, “He’s our ‘go-to guy’ for new technology.”
Try continued, “Blake cares deeply about UIS, students and staff. He goes to great lengths to make sure no detail is left out; whether that is in a Leadership Lived profile, the university’s social media, digital signs on campus, or news releases. He often comes in before or after hours in order to make that happen.”
Through his work at UIS, Wood has the opportunity to meet many different people.
“I really like meeting students who have interesting stories to tell. The Leadership Lived profiles, I meet a lot of interesting students who are doing great things. It’s always fun to be able to listen to their stories and be able to share their stories with others. Other than that the people who work here at UIS, the faculty and staff, are great.”
Wood also talked about the Leadership Lived profiles.
“Most of our ideas come from faculty and staff members who tell us about outstanding students on campus. They [students] can also feel free to submit themselves or if they have a friend who wants to submit information, to reach out to me, send me an email, and we’ll definitely take their idea into consideration. Who knows, they might end up in a Leadership Lived profile.”
Most of Wood’s job includes monitoring and updating the social media for the university.
“I look at Tweets and Facebook messages and respond to those. Most of the time people are very good about what they post on social media. We do have some moderation guidelines that we go by if someone is harassing, using threating language or inappropriate language, and that’s the only time anything would be removed. For the most part, we leave everything as it is because we believe that people should have the right to free speech on our Facebook page, so we don’t try to sensor anything at all.”
He would like students to know, “We do not actively monitor students’ social media accounts.”
Most of the time current students are not followed back. Sometimes, adds on Snapchat have accidently occurred, but are corrected.
“It’s interesting to see how social media continues to evolve,” said Wood. He hopes students become more engaged in the university’s social media.