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Agricultural Research & Extension Communications

Extension and Research Station Communications is responsible for the production and dissemination of information via written, digital and spoken means, serving as the lead voice to the numerous publics of the organization. The office serves the WVSU Agricultural and Environmental Research Station; WVSU Extension Service; and the Center for the Advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


From strategic planning to concept development, graphic design to video, social media to photography, we are essentially your one-stop shop for high-quality communication solutions. This website serves as an introduction to working with our office, including a description of the services we provide, a look at our team members, descriptions of our brand and graphic identity, and procedures for requesting a new project.

Jens-Kristian Kiel, Director of Communications

Jens-Kristian Kiel is a remarkable individual who has significantly impacted the world of advertising, marketing and information technology. Originally from Western Germany, Jens boldly relocated to West Virginia to start a new life after getting married. With over thirty years of experience, Jens has developed an impressive track record of solving problems and devising innovative solutions. His unique blend of German efficiency and American passion has earned him a reputation for delivering exceptional client outcomes.
Despite his business success, Jens remains a devoted family man with a wife who teaches in West Virginia and two adult sons in Germany. He enjoys various hobbies and interests, including movies, playing music, reading non-fiction, writing blog posts and articles, fitness, grilling, travel and philosophy. In terms of language, he is fluent in English and German, studied Latin for seven years, and is working on improving his Spanish skills.

Jens has been recognized with numerous accolades for his contributions to the West Virginia community, including the prestigious U.S. Small Business Administration's West Virginia Small Business Champion of the Year Award. He inspires his peers and colleagues, demonstrating what it means to be a true leader and making a positive impact on those around him. With his impressive achievements and unwavering dedication, Jens-Kristian Kiel is a shining example of what it means to live a life of noteworthy merit.

Alisha Jarrett, Writer/Editor

Alisha Jarrett is a West Virginia State University alumna, graduating in 2018 with a bachelor of science in communications and an emphasis in public relations. She also led the WVSU Charles R. Byrd chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) as president for two terms in 2018 and received the PR Student of the Year Award. Alisha has executed several successful public relations campaigns, including videography for Child Law Services and the Sissonville Trail of Horrors, both of which won Crystal Awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She was an active member of the WVSU chapter of the National Broadcasting Society (NBS) and proudly made the Dean’s List for five consecutive semesters. In addition, Alisha is currently a graduate student at WVSU pursuing a master’s degree in media studies. She was inducted into the WVSU chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) in 2022 and is set to graduate in May 2024.

Alisha joined the WVSU Agricultural Research & Extension Communications team as a writer and editor in May 2021 and is responsible for writing their leading annual publication, StateGrown magazine. Her feature story on an 1890 Scholarship recipient in the Winter 2023 issue was specially selected by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for national promotion on all social media platforms and channels. Writing has been her passion since childhood; she enjoys building a career doing what she loves.
As a devotee of the arts, she also enjoys singing, dancing, acting, making people laugh, trying new things, traveling, attending Zumba classes and cooking healthy recipes.


Telitha Snell Akmel, Administrative Assistant II

Telitha Snell Akmel is a highly organized and detail-oriented professional with several years of experience as an administrative assistant. She has impeccable communication and organizational skills and can multitask efficiently. Her skill set includes managing schedules and finances, arranging travel and handling confidential information with discretion.

She is dedicated to providing exceptional service and ensuring the seamless operation of daily office activities. Whatever the task at hand may be, Telitha approaches it with enthusiasm and dedication. Her upbeat personality and ability to connect with others make her a valuable asset to the WVSU Extension Communications team.

In addition to her professional skills, Telitha is a mother and a talented graphic designer and entrepreneur specializing in marketing. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to lectures and writing poetry.

All content created by a University or WVSU Research & Development Corporation entity is subject to the rules and regulations outlined in the WVSU Brand & Graphic Identity manual.

The manual discusses the rules and regulations accompanying use of University logos, color schemes, typefaces, appropriate use of the Stinger mascot symbol and University seal, and other elements of the WVSU brand. 

When working with the Department of Communcations, we will ensure your projects are in line with the manual. If you would like to review the document, it is available online.

Frequently Asked Questions
What if my need is not addressed in the Brand & Graphic Identity manual?
The document is meant to be comprehensive in addressing elements of the WVSU brand, but if you have a question or need that is not addressed, contact the Director of Communications to discuss.

What if my request/idea/need is not in line with the information outlined in the Brand & Graphic Identity manual?
The regulations of the WVSU brand and all information in the manual are non-negotiable. We will work with you to ensure that the WVSU brand is used appropriately while also meeting your project needs.

Description of Services:

From brochures to posters to logos to digital images for social media, we provide full graphic design support for your project needs. Jobs are completed on a request basis using professional-grade design software. 


All design-related materials are to be produced by the Department of Communications in consultation with the requesting staff person. To begin the process, complete a Graphic Design Request Form to get your project into our work queue. Upon submission of the form, the Director will follow up with you to discuss your vision for the project. We will work with the requesting staff person to bring their vision to life as best we can; however, the Department of Communications is the ultimate steward of the organization’s brand, and is subject to adherence to University marketing and branding standards. Therefore, the final project may differ from the initial request. Once work begins on the project, following the consultation meeting after the request comes in, the Director will provide a working draft of the product for review. With additional consultation, staff people may request up to two (2) revisions. After that, final approval is at the discretion of the Director of Communications to ensure brand consistency.


Timelines for requested projects will vary, depending on the scope of the project, time-sensitive needs and current workload of the designer. Projects with any type of complexity will need to have a project planning meeting to develop a project calendar. Staff members should ideally submit requests at least two weeks prior to the date the final product is needed. Smaller projects, like a digital graphic, will have a much shorter turnaround time than larger projects such as a printed publication. Projects requiring printing will require a longer lead time, as printing can add additional days or weeks to job completion. See the FAQ below for more information about timelines.

Submit A Graphic Design Request

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I submit a request for a digital graphic to publicize an upcoming program or event?
These requests should be submitted 4 weeks before your event to allow for design, review, approval, and posting with enough lead time to properly publicize your program. Because this is not going to be printed, this deadline is pretty straightforward. Once the design is finished and approved, it is able to be used. In this case, the standard request of 2 weeks production time is appropriate, and a good rule of thumb is to give yourself 2 weeks to get the word out for smaller events, hence the ideal 4-week submission time before your event. 

When should I submit a request for a brochure or other program literature?
These project requests should be submitted 4–6 weeks before needing in hand. When a project needs to be sent to any printer, you can automatically assume that the printer will need at least 2 weeks of production time, sometimes more depending on the complexity of the project. A minimum of 2 weeks will be needed for layout and design. If photos will need to be taken, it may need to be longer. This timeframe also allows for review, revisions, and approval before going to final print. 

When should I submit requests for marketing materials relating to a large-scale event, such as an Extension or Research-sponsored conference?
The sooner our office can be a part of the planning for any large event, the better. We want to help you strategize from the start to help make your work easier. We recommend having at least one month to promote your large-scale event. Depending on the materials requested for your event, an extended timeline would be needed. Contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.

What if I have a request that needs a quicker turnaround time than those listed?
These timeframes are created to allow for workload balance and the time needed for things like revisions, approvals, printing, and any publicity relating to the project. However, we understand things can and often do happen at the last minute. If you need something on a tight deadline, please contact the Director of Communications to discuss your need.

Description of Services:

We are happy to provide you or one of our partners with a logo to be used for promotional purposes. Because different media require different file types, we ask that you use our Logo Usage Request form. This form will help ensure you get the appropriate file needed.


We understand that these requests can come at the last minute. However, we ask to have 2–3 days to get the files to you when possible. If you need a logo in less time than this, still submit the information via the form and follow up with a call or email to the Director of Communications.

Submit a Logo Request

Description of Services:

We provide full media relations services, including writing and distributing press releases, coordinating media coverage for events, and working with staff to prepare for interviews.


The team handles the creation and distribution of all press releases. To request a press release, email the Director of Communications with as much pertinent information you can provide. The Writer will either prepare the release with the information submitted or follow-up with the requesting staff person for additional needed information. Once the release is prepared, it is shared with the University’s Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing for grammatical and stylistic edits to be in line with the University’s brand, then it will be shared with the requesting staff person for factual edits only, then it will be sent back to University Relations for final approval and distribution. Releases are sent to a statewide database of media contacts, inclusive of broadcast, print and digital media outlets. Releases can also be targeted to specific geographic locations to reach identified target audiences. After the release has been distributed via email, it is placed onto the University’s homepage and social media platforms. The requesting staff person is also free to share the final approved release as they see fit, such as to program-specific contacts, email listservs, etc.


Please notify us of potential media opportunities as early as possible. While the writing and approval process is typically much shorter than projects involving graphic design, there are still multiple steps to completion. Typically, though, getting a news release written and prepared for distribution only takes a couple of days at the most and, depending upon workload, could be done more quickly. 

The timeline for getting information to the media in enough time to maximize publicity, however, is another factor. Ideally, news releases are prepared for distribution at least two weeks prior to a scheduled event to allow for ample publicity for event-specific releases like an upcoming extension workshop. For larger events, like a full-scale conference, a much longer lead time may be necessary to enhance publicity opportunities. Doing a press release that is recruiting for an event happening in less than a week is getting pretty tight. Ideally, two weeks minimum is the aim. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if a reporter asks to interview me about my work?
If a staff person is directly approached by a member of the media for an interview, you are free to work with the reporter to schedule an interview without prior approval from the Department of Communications. However, we ask that the Director of Communications is informed that an interview will be or has taken place and, if the information is available, where and when that interview will appear. This is requested for media tracking purposes. If you are asked to participate in a media interview and there is enough lead time, we can work with you for a briefing on what to expect during an interview. Often, however, members of the media are operating on an extremely tight deadline and will need to conduct the interview immediately.

Who gets our news releases? 
As stated above, we distribute to a statewide database of media outlets and can also target media outlets in a specific region as needed. For instance, if you’re recruiting for a program open only to Raleigh County residents, we can target Raleigh County media outlets. While we do not share our media database with staff members, if you have a media contact that you would like to ensure is on the list, please send it to the Director of Communications.

What if I would like to alert the media of an event that has come up last minute? 
This happens from time to time. Internally, writing and approving a news release can generally be done on short notice, but the procedure above is a requirement (i.e. all news releases being vetted through the University’s AVP of Communications and Marketing). If you have a last-minute request for a news release, simply contact the Director of Communications to discuss. 

How do we know if our media releases are getting traction?
The University subscribes to a media tracking system that provides daily snapshots of our media activity. We also receive Google Alerts when information is picked up by the media. That information can be shared with staff members who want to know if their content is garnering media attention.

Is sending out a press release our only avenue for interacting with the media?
Think of the press release as the first step. This gives the media a heads-up about the subject matter and helps them determine whether they are willing and interested in covering the topic. It also helps with their scheduling. If we distribute a release about an event happening in the future, it gets put on their calendar of possible stories for the day. While we can’t guarantee a media outlet will bite on a story we’ve pitched, we can follow up after the press release is sent with direct calls or emails to encourage their coverage of a story.   

Are news releases only for events that involve recruitment for programs? What else makes a good news release?
In a word, anything could make a good news release. New programs or projects, a recent outreach or research impact your work has had, an achievement (like an award or grant) by a staff person or student, a feature profile of your program that simply tells its story but may not be about program recruitment. If you have an idea but are unsure whether it’s worth pitching to the media as a story, contact the Director of Communications. Odds are, it probably is worth it!

What if my goal is to invite the news media to an event, but not recruit publicly? 
In that case, we wouldn’t do a news release. We would do what’s called a media advisory, which contains much of the same information as a news release, but is structured differently so that the media knows it’s not meant for publication. It’s more of an invitation for them to attend.

What if I consent to an interview with the media and am unhappy with the result? 
If the reporter has misrepresented the information in a way that has a negative impact on the subject matter, contact the Director of Communications to discuss methods for asking for a correction or retraction. If the resulting story is factual, but you simply aren’t happy with how the story turned out, that is likely not worth the time and effort to revise. Your best approach is to be well prepared on the front end of an interview and present the reporter with the information to the best of your ability. How that reporter chooses to present the information is ultimately up to them and their editors.

The Department of Communications has some digital photography equipment and can provide photographic support upon request. The University also has a full-time Photographic Services Manager on staff, whose services include professional headshots, event coverage, and project-specific photography needs. 


For higher-level photography needs, such as photos for printed materials, displays, website usage, or staff headshots, those projects will likely fall to the University’s Photographic Service Manager. For more general photography needs that may necessitate the use of a professional-grade camera but not necessarily the level of involvement of the Photographic Services Manager, the Department of Communications will likely cover that request. For requesting staff members, begin by contacting the Director of Communications with your photography needs. Any photos of program participants under the age of 18 must have signed Media Release Forms on file before photos are taken. Having a signed form for anyone whose image we intend to use in our materials is ideal, but required for minors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can staff members take their own photos?
Certainly. Today’s smartphones offer tremendous photographic capabilities, and staff members are encouraged to document their work as much as possible, especially for use on social media platforms, where professional-level photographs aren’t always necessary. However, for imagery that will be used in the creation of marketing materials like displays, brochures, magazines, or as part of a large-scale website layout (like the parent image of a landing page), working with the Department of Communications is necessary to ensure the highest quality.

What are the guidelines on the use of stock photography in our materials?
Our goal is to always use our own original photos, but there are occasions where such a photo may not be available. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when programming is largely being conducted virtually. If a photograph is needed but an in-house photo is unattainable, the Department of Communications has access to a library of stock photography and will work with the requesting staff person to identify an appropriate photo for use. If using a stock photo is necessary, ideally it should be a photo that could be perceived as one of our own by the end user.

The University’s Office of Printing Services supports the educational objectives of the University by enhancing the institutional image through high-quality digital printing. Advanced computerized equipment makes possible the production of superior quality products, such as brochures, booklets, University Course Packs, and much more. The printing of magazines and books are a routine publication request as well.


In most cases, staff members will be working with the Director of Communications on projects that require design and printing and will not need to work directly with the Office of Printing Services. For print-ready projects that do not require collaboration with a graphic design specialist, staff members can directly submit requests for printing through the WVSU Printing Services online portal. This practice is strongly discouraged, however, because the Director is well versed in printing requirements, such as proper pre-press setup, and can work more swiftly in direct communication with Printing Services staff on your behalf.


While projects are completed as promptly and efficiently as possible, each request differs depending upon complexity, design, quantity and other factors. A project timeline will be established on a per-project basis.

Frequently Asked Questions
Who pays for the materials I need printed?
The requesting staff person is responsible for paying for printed materials from their appropriate budget. The Director will provide estimated costs prior to printing, and a budget line must be identified before printing can begin.

Are we required to use the campus print shop or may we use outside vendors?
The WVSU Office of Printing Services is our primary print vendor and typically has first refusal on any print job. The Office is competitively priced and efficient in speed and quality. However, there are some limitations, such as with die-cut projects, large posters and banners, and other special projects. The Director can help to determine if the campus print shop can handle your project needs. If not, we have a roster of outside vendors with whom we work on a routine basis. If a staff person has a vendor they would prefer we consult — for instance, a county-based extension agent wanting to use a vendor in their community — please let us know and we can work with them on your project. 

Description of Services:

The Department of Communications is happy to help choose promotional and giveaway items for your program or event and develop displays for use at events. We have worked with several vendors in this capacity and can help choose the right materials for you. Because we are subject to adherence to University marketing and branding standards, please send proofs of the giveaway to the Director of Communications to make sure it is in compliance with the University’s brand before giving approval to produce the piece.

To discuss a display, please contact the Director of Communications to discuss options for choosing an appropriate option for your needs.

An organizational presence or participation on social media sites includes: 1) Media sites established by the organization on organization-owned domains; 2) Accounts on external sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., on behalf of the organization; and 3) Personal accounts on external sites that are approved for use or participation by organization employees as part of their job duties. Larger organizational entities like WVSU Extension Service have established presences on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. 


Social media can be a valuable tool for audience reach and engagement, but it isn’t right for every department, office, or project. To determine if your project idea merits establishment of an account, please first review the WVSU Social Media Guidelines & Procedures and this Social Media Quick Guide before submitting a social media project request.

As a University-related entity, all social media activity is subject to University guidelines. If you determine that social media is an appropriate avenue for your project, consult the Department of Communications via email to begin discussions and ensure the page is set up according to University guidelines. Additionally, at least one staff member beyond the requesting person must have login credentials to any established account. This can be a direct supervisor, a colleague on your team, or a member of the Department of Communications. This is to ensure, in the event that an account manager leaves the organization, the account can still be accessed. By consulting the Department of Communications, we can help to determine if social media will work for you, on which platform(s) you should establish a presence, and strategize to ensure content remains consistent and relevant. 

To begin planning your social media strategy, contact the Director of Communications with your idea.

Extension Social Media Posts

Agricultural Research and Extension Communications wants to help you promote all of the great things that Extension is doing. Fill out the form below to work with the Digital Communications Specialist on promoting your upcoming event, sharing news from your area, etc.


Please allow a minium of five (5) business days from the current date to allow for graphic production/post scheduling when submitting the Social Media Post Request Form.

Social Media Post Request Form


Description of Services:

We provide strategic communications and marketing planning services to help in the development stages of new ideas and programs, because marketing does not begin at the program launch phase. It begins with the idea. We would love to meet with you and be part of your program development team.


We suggest you contact us at the earliest phases of project development. Simply email the Director of Communications to get started.

Planning Your Project:

Whether you are planning a special event, developing a new program, or launching a new Extension Service or Research initiative, every project has a marketing aspect. Involving professional communicators throughout your planning process will help to ensure success. When requesting our assistance in strategic planning, we will work with you and your team throughout the development process.

Description of Services:

The Department of Communications provides video production and editing services such as feature stories about your programs, how-to videos, and instructional content. 


Video production and editing is available on a request basis. If you have an idea for a video project, please consult with your program director or department head first to make sure your idea is in line with program priorities and goals. Staff members should then fill out the online Video Request Form, and a team member will follow up to discuss the project.


Planning, shooting, editing, and revising a video project will likely be a time-intensive process that will take at least a matter of days. We are also working on closed-captioning all video content produced (See FAQ below). Project timelines will be discussed and developed in conjunction with the needs of the requesting staff person. 

Submit a Video Request

Frequently Asked Questions

Does filling out the request form guarantee that my video will be produced?
No. Submitting a request form guarantees that the Digital Production Specialist will consult with the requestor to discuss the project. Reasons for which a video request may not be taken on by the Department include (a.) the Department’s video workload will not allow us to meet the needed deadline, (b.) the request lacks a well-defined need, or (c.) another format for information delivery is more appropriate for the request.

Can staff members produce their own videos?
Yes, staff members have been shooting their own videos more frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic. Since face-to-face interaction is still limited, staff members may continue to shoot their own content as a replacement for that in-person program delivery. Content that will be used for overall program marketing, is a feature story about your work, or will be part of our “how-to” video library are projects that require more elaborate production and should be submitted through Video Request Form. 

Does the Department of Communications offer assistance with videos shot by staff?
Yes. If staff members would like some basic editing, branding, clean-up, or music inserted into a video prior to its release, please complete the Video Request Form and label the submission appropriately. 

What about the federal compliance requirement of closed-captioning video content?
The Department of Communications subscribes to a closed-captioning service that handles all aspects of captioning video content. While the Department maintains a budget that allows for the captioning of video content, large-scale caption needs (like long-form program delivery videos) may need to be paid for by the requesting department. This can be handled on a per-case basis.

How long does it take to get a video captioned and returned for posting?
The service we use is fast and efficient, with shorter videos returned in 24 hours or less and with 99% accuracy of captions. As an example, a recent two-minute video was sent out and returned (error-free) in about 4 hours. Long videos may take up to multiple days. 

Writing Impact Statements 
Big Impact: Why Impactful Writing Matters and How to Do It Well - From the Multistate Research Fund
Keys to Writing Impact Statements - From LandGrantImpacts.org

Our Team

Jens-Kristian Kiel
Director of Communications
(304) 204-4002
Alisha Jarrett
(304) 204-4091
Telitha L.
Telitha L. Snell Akmel
Administrative Assistant II
(304) 204-4008
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