Sixth in a series of articles about our Community
What goes on at 10 Library Square?
The antique white Cape facing the town green at 10 Library Square is home to the ten creative professionals of the Wheaton Communications Office. What does this department do? In essence, it acts as the eyes, ears and voice of the college.
The mission of the Communications Office is to advance Wheaton’s reach and reputation—locally, nationally and internationally. To that end, the writers, designers and web technologists of Communications shine the spotlight on the college and its people through print and electronic publications, media relations and community relations.
The department’s responsibilities are many and varied. The staff writes, designs and produces materials (not to mention sending hundreds of e-blasts) to help recruit the next freshman class. They connect news reporters to faculty experts; disseminate news about the college on the Web; publish the college magazine; produce web content; and conduct video interviews. They take on any number of writing and design assignments, from fund-raising letters to press releases.
The Communications Office, which includes the Web Strategy Team manages the college’s website. This includes everything from maintaining the servers and software systems to training and supporting staff across campus in using the web. While individual college offices and departments take responsibility for maintaining their own Web pages, the Web Team and the Communications Office provide them with essential planning, design and editorial support. This helps to bring quality and coherence to the overall college web presence.
The department produces content for many sections of the Wheaton website, notably for News & Events, the Admission site, Giving to Wheaton, the About Wheaton section, the campus calendar and the college home page. One popular feature of the home page is the "Wheaton People" section, aka the "People Quilt," which serves up short Q&A profiles of interesting and news-making members of the college community. You can nominate yourself or someone else for this feature by clicking on the "Tell us your story" link on that page.
Acting as reporters and feature writers, Communications staffers write stories about Wheaton people who are achieving, contributing, creating and leading, here on campus and further afield. These articles and profiles are published in the college magazine, the Wheaton Quarterly, which currently has a circulation of about 27,000 readers. The magazine, which is written and designed in-house, began publishing alumnae news items in 1922. Do you have a story idea? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting student recruitment is one of the most important jobs of the Communications Office, which handles projects such as email campaigns, print pieces and customized Web pages. Working in collaboration with the Admission Office, the Communications staff manages everything from writing copy to design and layout. Every detail—down to the color of the type to the weight of the paper – must be decided by the designers. In 2011, Wheaton’s admission materials underwent a major redesign and now many materials, including the website, are being tweaked to adhere to this new look and feel.
The department supports Advancement, the college division that fosters connections with alumnae/i and raises financial resources for Wheaton. Communications collaborates with Advancement to produce a wide variety of brochures, white papers, Web content, solicitations and other messages that encourage support of Go Beyond, the college’s eight-year, $120-million comprehensive campaign. The department also works with the Wheaton Fund, the college's annual giving program, to develop messaging strategy and produce the electronic and print materials that are sent to potential donors throughout the year. The Wheaton Fund provides more than $4 million each year to support the academic and co-curricular programs that make up a Wheaton education.
The Communications team works to promote the college through the media, whether this involves matching a faculty expert to a reporter’s inquiry, issuing press releases to capture the media’s attention, or responding to controversial news coverage. Working with college leadership, the staff also helps draft email memos to college alum-nae/i, parents, and the campus community on matters of shared concern. Local television and newspaper reporters are directed to the Communications Office if they have questions about happenings on campus—as varied as the winning of a Rhodes scholarship, an arts event or a bomb scare! The Assistant Vice President for Communications often acts as a spokesman for the college, and he works to ensure that accurate and informative messages are disseminated to the news media, the campus population and other constituencies, whether in a time of crisis, a moment of great celebration, or anything in between.