​Chris Kelly, director of marketing and communications at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, announced today that Rachel Putman will serve as the associate director for strategic communications effective immediately.

Putman has served as the interim public information officer since January 2019. Her appointment comes after an extensive search and interview process.

As associate director Putman will be responsible for developing and implementing the university’s communication strategy, including media relations, digital media, internal communication and public relations. She will also serve as the university’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) coordinator.

“I’m so excited to help tell the story of our institution and the students, faculty and staff who make it such a vibrant place to learn,” said Putman. “We have so many opportunities to show the world our strengths. From newspapers to newsfeeds and T.V. to TikTok, we have avenues for communication at our fingertips just waiting to be utilized.”

“But communication isn’t a one-way street,” she added. “We have the power, more than ever before, to listen. One of the most important things I’ve done in the past three years is to implement comprehensive social listening tools so that we can truly hear the voices, needs, and concerns of our varied constituents. I can’t wait to do even more to open those lines of communication in this new role.”

Putman joined the Office of Marketing and Communications in 2014 as lead photographer. As her role evolved, so too did her responsibilities. In 2017 she was named social media manager, developing the university’s first social media strategy and social media policy, which have since been used in nation-wide presentations on higher education social media use.

“Rachel is an accomplished communicator with a passion for data-informed decision making,” said Kelly. “She understands the important role UAFS plays in the lives of our students and in the well-being of our communities. She is a tireless advocate for our university and is the ideal choice to lead our communication efforts.”

Prior to working at UAFS, Putman spent five years at the Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith’s local newspaper. An award-winning photojournalist, she has extensively covered Fort Smith and the River Valley region and has been published by the Washington Post, ESPN, The Los Angeles Times, the National Weather Channel and the Associated Press World Wire.  

Putman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008 before moving to Arkansas to pursue her career in photojournalism.


Chris Kelly
Date Posted: 
Thursday, February 20, 2020
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