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Communications and Engagement Goal

Engage University stakeholders and key external audiences via an integrated program of communications and experiences that tell and demonstrate the Illinois Wesleyan story.


Strategy A: Branding and Core Channels. Clarify and expand the reach of the University brand to include not only communication media, but also the experiences of specific audiences both on and off campus by developing an integrated branding program to engage audiences and stakeholders.

IV.A1:  Given that experiences are built on perception, adopt a brand management approach that considers key audiences’ perspectives and test communications accordingly.

Outcome: Review current communications messaging to identify and evaluate existing brand identity and promise, and realign if needed.

Outcome: Define management and communication processes that strive to deliver messages and service experiences consistent with our branding truth.

Outcome: Explore the utilization of an external expert to conduct journey map studies to improve audience experiences. These studies should identify how key audiences interact with the University through various touch points and how to improve those interactions by clarifying circumstances when our message and their experiences are not consistent.

Outcome: Consider an increase in resources for managing the brand by realigning or expanding current staff or engaging external consultants.

IV.A2:  Enhance the University’s website, our primary communications channel with external audiences, so that it effectively conveys our brand essence and provides positive user experiences by delivering easily accessed, effectively presented and meaningful information.

Outcome: Conduct web user research to better understand the priorities and needs of specific audiences by gauging their attitude toward technology and their motivation for using the site.

Outcome: Develop a web strategy for specific audiences by considering whether we want to elicit an emotional and/or sensory response, stimulate the intellect, identify with a community or social group or motivate action.

IV.A3:  Explore anincrease in resources concerning both active and interactive communication and engagement on the web, including video, social media, and other digital media and innovative technologies.

Outcome: Explore the realignment of current Communications staff responsibilities and priorities to place greater focus on digital communications and services provided to University departments.

IV.A4:  To ensure consistency and currency of content moving forward, charge University Communications with oversight responsibility for enhancing the website’s content and design, with a focus on webpages that have the greatest impact on prospective students, as identified by Admissions. 

IV.A5:  In consultation with the Web Advisory Group, develop new web content guidelines/ policies and new webpage templates to provide consistent, focused and compelling content and design.

Strategy B: Campus Community. Enhance communication efforts and information sharing to build a strong institutional culture and close-knit campus community.

IV.B1:  Campus community engagement:Increase awareness and access to news and events via all channels of communication.

Outcome: Ensure that those without access to website and email (e.g. Physical Plant) are kept informed about important news and events via other communications channels.

Outcome: Create a centralized location to collect news, honors, awards, and events to be shared with the campus community. Provide access to this information to offices or departments who communicate with campus constituencies,(e.g., University Communications, Admissions, Advancement, departmental webpages, etc.).

Outcome: Promote greater awareness of the various communication channels and their best practices.

IV.B2:  Create a campus culture of information sharing, collaboration and research.

Outcome: Continue to streamline communication between key administrative offices to increase information sharing and collaboration and reduce redundancy.

Outcome: Explore the creation of a dedicated events video production unit in collaboration with The Ames Library and Information Technology Services that would be staffed and resourced adequately to capture campus events and performances for educational, archival and informational purposes.

Outcome: Conduct and share the results of an annual communications audit to measure the impact of internal communications programs and gain feedback and input from the campus community.

Outcome: Conduct research to learn how peer/aspirant institutions are working to inform their communities to identify best practices and benchmark our own efforts.

IV.B3:  Working in collaboration with Human Resources, incorporate institutional history, traditions, values and core messages into the orientation process for new employees. 

Strategy C: Prospective Students. Enhance the University’s recruitment efforts by informing and engaging prospective students with meaningful narratives describing the value of an IWU experience. Given that the pragmatic and grounded millennial generation aligns with brands that clearly define its character, attention should be given to consistent experiences and narratives that exude the IWU undergraduate advantage.

IV.C1:  Clarify and simplify the message of IWU’s purpose to enhance its relevance and resonance with the prospective student audience.

Outcome: Define the brand character and personality. Print materials and website should be distinctive and leave the reader/visitor with a clear idea of IWU’s character and personality. Define and clarify the IWU promise.

Outcome: Create a narrative, a true brand story that elicits an emotional response from prospective students. Videos telling the IWU story need to be dominant in prospective students’ visit to the website. These stories should be repeated in print materials.

Outcome: Clearly define the IWU experience benefit as “The Undergraduate Advantage.”

Outcome: Conduct research among prospective students to gain insights into the strength of our “undergraduate advantage” and how best to simplify and clarify our brand story.

IV.C2:  Create website content and publications that are user-focused, authentic and well organized.

Outcome: Conduct scheduled website usability studies with prospective students, to ensure that important information is easily found and the user experience is positive.

Outcome: Conduct periodic qualitative studies to determine if the content is eliciting the desired emotional response.

Outcome: Expand use of video on the website and in digital communications to communicate the IWU narrative.

Outcome: Incorporate these ideas and practices into future website redesign projects.

IV.C3:  Consider the use of journey mapping or digital ethnographic studies of touch points in the college selection process. These studies would follow prospective students on their journey in the process, as they learn more about IWU through a variety of communications such as IWU publications, the web site, and the face-to-face meeting with members of the campus community. This study would provide valuable feedback about the experiences of prospective students and their families.

Outcome: Expand and affirm the list of contacts between IWU and prospective students.

Outcome: Explore the utilization of an external group to conduct the journey mapping study to gain insights on whether we have alignment between our communication and the experience of prospective students.

Outcome: Integrate findings into the communication touch points and behaviors of the community.

IV.C4:  Conduct thoughtful trend scans around millennial generation values, concerns, and information sources as they make decisions about college choices.

Outcome: Develop processes and procedures to uncover and address issues concerning students’ dissatisfaction with University-related matters.

Outcome: Create a procedure for anyone in the campus community to make a suggestion to Cabinet level management when they become aware of an issue related to student recruitment or retention.

Outcome: Periodically conduct qualitative studies of current students to monitor progress of student-centered initiatives.

Outcome: Conduct annual student satisfaction surveys to learn what we are doing right and what issues need to be addressed, and share the results and recommended action plans with faculty and staff.

Strategy D: Alumni

IV.D1:  Make alumni relationships a top University commitment using a best-practices model. This model should engage all areas of the University involved in communicating to and working with alumni. This program should invest sufficient resources to generate an increase in alumni engagement (both financial contributions and volunteer talent and time to support admissions, career programs, the University’s educational mission etc.).

Outcome: Focus on alumni engagement across all parts of the campus, including a centralized approach and source for linking alumni to opportunities ranging from admissions to academics to career development to fund-raising, etc.

Outcome: Broaden our affinity group approach to an inclusive, all alumni class-focused approach. Examples include class-focused efforts that begin with early recruitment of class leaders and creation of class spirit during undergraduate years, and class leadership committees to provide volunteers to help plan and execute activities.

Outcome: Explore the creation of a comprehensive reunion program (multi-day, apart from Homecoming, all 5-year classes have class events, etc.).

Outcome: Actively involve faculty in alumni engagement efforts on a national and worldwide basis using contemporary communications channels.

Outcome: Create an alumni engagement index using models already in place at other schools similar to IWU, with goals for percent and level of involvement for alumni by class year.

IV.D2:  Use data to drive program development and monitor progress.

Outcome: Conduct an alumni assessment program to identify alumni awareness, attitudes, perceptions, communications preferences and satisfaction with their undergraduate and alumni experiences.

Outcome: Invest the appropriate resources for data management to enhance timely access to easy-to-understand information and records.

IV.D3:  Build communications channels to harness power of social media to reach and engage alumni worldwide.

  IV.D4:  Enhance the effectiveness of alumni programming via campus-wide coordination and collaboration.

Outcome: Create core messages that are routinely and consistently used to communicate with alumni and assign one designated point of responsibility for coordinating information being disseminated.

Outcome: Align and coordinate alumni engagement and fund-raising activities so they work from a common core of strategies, messages and carefully orchestrated activities to leverage the impact of each activity.

Outcome: Collaborate with appropriate IWU departments (e.g., Student Affairs, Career Center, Provost’s office) to plan and execute alumni engagement efforts.