University Relations Creative Services (URCS) is an in-house creative team dedicated to enhancing UR support for academic and administrative partner communications. Their focus is to develop high-quality, brand-aligned creative content that meets the communication needs of our partners and their platforms. This team provides support to Cornell units without any associated cost.
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URCS is an in-house creative services resource embedded within the existing Brand Communications unit in UR. It is a dedicated, fully allocated, supplemental resource for all Cornell units that does not charge fees for approved projects and does not accept fee-for-service requests from internal or external units.
URCS exists to provide dedicated, high-quality creative services to all official academic and administrative units at Cornell University. It expands support for academic and administrative partner needs but does not supplant existing unit-level personnel. It increases efficiency, provides more direct access to resources, and expands UR capacity to support units on small to medium-sized projects.
Within its first year, URCS is focusing on a limited but ambitious set of goals, which include minimizing the need to hire vendors and freelancers for a select set of creative services, ensuring brand alignment and high-quality creative and editorial standards in all projects, expanding UR capacity to support units on small- to medium-sized projects, providing more direct, efficient access to resources, and increasing efficiency by sharing insights and resources among similar projects.
URCS is a dedicated, fully allocated resource for all Cornell units that will not require fees or impose charges for dedicated staff support of approved projects. URCS will not cover production, implementation, and materials costs like web and video hosting and print production or manufacturing costs. Those costs and vendor coordination will be the responsibility of the requestor unit.
Submit a project via the project request form on the University Relations website and complete a Statement of Work (SOW) that lists all planned deliverables plus a time estimate for each project. URCS will prioritize requests that are included in the unit’s annual strategic communications plan submitted by unit communications leads to UR supervisors. URCS resources will be distributed fairly and evenly across units, subject to demand. The Operations lead and Project Manager will assign staff per project based on the scope of work, matching skill sets, and availability, in coordination with the unit project lead.
It is vitally important for requesters to include context as to whether the project itself is tied to a specific communications priority. Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
URCS services are available to all academic and administrative units with a communications lead who has a shared reporting line to the Vice President for University Relations (VPUR). Other units/offices may be considered for URCS support with the inclusion of an academic or administrative unit project sponsor, subject to UR leadership approval and requestor unit leadership approval.
UCRS offers a competitive resource for innovative, modern services that include:
URCS staff will comprise six dedicated, full-time staff representing at least one FTE per skillset, which includes a Project Manager, Multimedia Producers, Digital Designer, Copywriter/Editor, and a Front-End Web Designer/Developer. The unit will be funded by allocations previously approved by the provost and will report to the Director of Operations, Brand Communications.
URCS is currently accepting project requests via the URCS Project Request Form and direct email to the URCS CreativeServices@cornell.edu. As of late 2023, UR is still actively hiring positions for URCS. The timing of hiring will depend on finding suitable candidates with the required skill sets. UR will share hiring progress in upcoming meetings and announcements to communications peers soon.
URCS carefully assesses various factors when evaluating project criteria to ensure successful project execution. These include the scope and complexity of the project, alignment with available skill sets, resource availability, project timing, and strategic alignment. By prioritizing projects that align with strategic communication plans and effectively distributing resources, URCS strives to optimize project outcomes. In cases where project requirements exceed internal capabilities, URCS may recommend external support to ensure project success.
To ensure quality work at no cost to partners, URCS uses time as the primary factor in managing partner expectations and ensuring unit productivity, efficiency, and success. URCS manages intake, scheduling, project management, and delivery with a tight focus on the timing and duration of project milestones.
URCS strives to accommodate rush projects and tight deadlines to the best of its abilities. While the unit prioritizes requests based on strategic communication plans and resource availability, it recognizes that communication needs sometimes arise unexpectedly and require quick turnaround times.
However, it's important to note that URCS operates within certain limitations. If a project's scope or complexity exceeds capacity or capabilities, or if there are already multiple requests from the same partner or unit, it may be necessary to consider alternative options. In such cases, URCS may recommend engaging MSA-contracted vendors or freelancers to meet the project's requirements within the desired timeframe.
While URCS aims to accommodate rush projects, units should initiate the intake process and communicate their needs as early as possible. This allows for better planning, decision-making, and resource allocation, increasing the likelihood of meeting tight deadlines.
If URCS is unable to take on a project, they will refer it to contracted vendor partners or freelancers and assist in minimal onboarding support. URCS Operations will communicate this outcome to the requester ASAP, provide a short rationale, and suggest alternative options. The goal is to meet partner needs in the most efficient way possible and direct units to external support only when necessary to meet specific project needs or accommodate a lack of resources internally.
Projects outlined in the unit’s annual strategic communications plans will be prioritized, but URCS will strive to accommodate requests that are outside of established plans. All reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate such requests, provided they align with the team's capacity and resources. In these circumstances, it is crucial to provide as much advance notice as possible. Ultimately, URCS aims to be flexible and responsive to meet the evolving communication needs of the organization.
URCS conducts regular project reviews and solicits participating units for feedback to ensure ongoing success. Performance is based on key metrics such as total requests, equitable distribution of resources, cost avoidance, value created, and qualitative feedback from partners. Progress reports will be provided to UR leadership at regular intervals, timing and frequency to be determined.