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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Sitting down with Crystal Lee, City College’s new public information officer
Crystal Lee stands in front of the Performing Art Center at City College. Photo credit: Krystal La / [email protected]

When thinking of “public information,” most City College students might think of the biweekly “Cityscape” newsletters, or Rave emergency alerts. Both of these are the work of the college’s new Public Information Officer, Crystal Lee.

The campus PIO is responsible for communicating important information to the students and employees, defining the school’s media presence, and producing online and print publications regarding the school, according to the City College website.

After serving as the Interim PIO since January 2022, Lee was officially hired for the permanent role this July. Lee replaced the previous PIO, Kaitlyn Collignon, who has since become the PIO for American River College.

“Crystal has dual responsibilities: she has the responsibility of primary communications and as a marketing lead at Sacramento City College,” said Gabe Ross, the chief strategy and communications officer for the Los Rios Community College District. 

Along with college-specific needs, “Crystal specializes in student communications newsletters, messaging around enrollment and the admissions process,” continued Ross.

One of the recent goals that the Los Rios PIOs are trying to tackle together is finding ways to cut through the noise of everyday media, according to Ross

Lee is working on finding ways to streamline the information that gets sent to City College students. She said that instead of having multiple emails sent out about the same topic, the ideal is to have one source that students can refer back to, such as the student newsletters. These newsletters, dubbed “Cityscape,” detail important information about events and other resources that are beneficial to students. They are sent to students through email every other Friday.

Lee knows the student body well, since she is a City College alum and served as the editor-in-chief of the Express student newspaper 22 years ago. In her perspective, the way information is communicated now has changed a lot.

“A lot of stuff has been digitized. I feel like that goes without saying at this point. But when I was a student and I was on the Express, we were still cutting out our articles and laying them out,” said Lee. She said back then the Express was a physical print publication that had to be distributed by the students working on the newspaper themselves.

Digitization has allowed for information to become easier to send and access. Students can now access the newsletter instantly, and receive Rave alerts, explained Lee. Rave alerts were a new safety warning system implemented in 2015 after an on-campus shooting incident.

Communicating safety concerns are a big part of the PIO’s responsibility. At the moment, Lee is working on developing a safety related app that will be available to students and staff. This app will work in addition to the Rave alerts that are sent whenever there is a safety concern on campus.

What constitutes a safety concern is dependent on many factors. Lee is careful to assess the urgency of the situation before alerting students.

“Depending on the type of incident, it may come straight from [Los Rios Police Department] first,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of communication back and forth trying to figure out whether or not a message needs to be sent out, what that message would be, who needs to know, when to send it out and platforms to use.”

After the death of a City College Football player on Aug. 11, Lee issued a statement about the death. When writing a statement, Lee said she has to take into account privacy concerns, legal ramifications and the mental wellbeing of those affected by the death.

Lee said she is excited to be able to invest in projects to advance communications now that she is the official PIO, and says, “Now I can settle in, move forward, knowing that any changes I might put in place or projects I start working on will be carried through because I’ll still be here.” 

On the future of Lee’s work as City College’s official PIO, Ross says, “I’m just super excited to see what Crystal does in that role and watch her continue to take communication in Sacramento City College to even greater levels.”

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