Ashley Jones ’12 is one of many Longwood alums inspired by the late Dr. Bill Stuart, professor of communication studies, who was known to respond to almost any greeting with the same phrase: “Living the brand.”
Jones remembers one conversation in particular with Stuart, who was her senior thesis advisor and died unexpectedly in fall 2012. They talked about her future, and afterwards she promised herself that someday she, too, would be “living the brand” as a Longwood employee. She made good on that promise last fall, when she was named assistant director of engagement communication, with an emphasis on social media, for Alumni and Career Services.
Jones’ transition from her previous job as marketing coordinator for Aramark’s Longwood division was seamless. More importantly, the connections she made and skills she acquired prepared her for the responsibilities of being a lead communicator with thousands of Longwood alumni who span nearly nine decades.
“It’s been a long road, mixed with opportunities and struggles, but always with steps in this direction,” said Jones.
What excites you the most about your job?
Being able to connect with Longwood alumni on many different platforms! It’s like juggling. There’s a lot that goes into it—but I love it. I feature a lot of throwback photos on Facebook, and I mainly use recent photos on Instagram because our audience there includes more recent alumni. Twitter is the bridge between Facebook and Instagram. In addition to handling social media, I oversee the Flag Raiser program. It’s always exciting to see where the Longwood flag will go.
How has social media impacted engagement with alumni across the decades?
There’s a platform for everyone, which is great. Alumni can connect with us in whichever way is most comfortable and natural for them. Before Facebook, I don’t think Alumni and Career Services would have been able to keep alumni as informed as we do now. Can you imagine all the emails, postcards and pamphlets we would have to send to match our Facebook feed?
What is your favorite Longwood tradition? Why?
Bandfest brings back one of the proudest memories of my time working as general manager of WMLU, the campus radio station, which sponsored the event. During my junior year, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and State Radio were forced to move inside Lankford during the middle of the performance due to a thunderstorm. Within 20 minutes, the WMLU staff set up a small portable stage in Lankford Ballroom, cleared out the couches and chairs, and set up a few speakers and mics. The next thing I knew, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was playing in the Lankford Ballroom!
What do you see on the horizon for social media and how most people use it in their daily lives?
Well, it’s not going anywhere, and it’s definitely adapting to what users want. Snapchat stories are a good example of how social media is continuing to evolve. Instagram launched its own version, and now Facebook has them. Live videos are also popular right now, and I think that’s due in part to viewers not wanting something that’s rehearsed. They want something that feels real and authentic. In the future, I think augmented reality will continue to grow in popularity. Personally, I’d love to see an Elwood or Joanie facial filter!