How a college’s spirit—and spirituality—came forth amid the pandemic

At Wheaton College in suburban Chicago, the brand journalism team pivoted its storytelling to connect alumni and administrators, students and faculty, and the community at large.

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An academic community extends far beyond the school’s physical campus, as the adaptations necessitated by COVID-19 have made crystal clear.

When the pandemic hit, my Wheaton College teammates and I had to adapt our brand journalism strategy to reflect the changes that had altered the social landscape almost overnight.

With students suddenly gone from campus and the institution’s energy focused on the transition to online learning, plowing ahead as normal would be tone-deaf—potentially alienating internal storytelling partners and losing an opportunity to appeal to prospective students, whose interest and enrollment are essential to the bottom line.

We chose to add value by providing our client-facing colleagues in admissions, development and alumni relations with compelling content that answers the question: “What are you doing about COVID-19?”

Our solution was to develop “COVID-19: Wheaton Responds,” a content hub focused on COVID-19 storytelling. Here’s how we did it:

Curate materials that tell your brand story.

As an initial step, we curated existing content that communicates Wheaton’s brand personality and demonstrates its relevance amidst the crisis.

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