The role of the Communications Office is to coordinate strategic communications efforts on behalf of the College, particularly those relating to admissions, advancement, the College's website, social media, and media relations. Communications' staff members work with members of the College community to tell Swarthmore's story in a way that is accurate and compelling, in order to share, promote, and further the work of the College. The division includes Web and Media Communications, Advancement Communications, and Editorial and Creative Services. The Vice President for Communications also serves as the Secretary of the College, working closely with the Board of Managers.
As part of their review process, directors in the Communications division annually submit strategic goals for the upcoming year, which are tied to the goals of the division. These in turn derive from College goals articulated by the president and president's staff. The directors' goals focus on new strategic initiatives in the upcoming year and are evaluated at the end of the year for the unit's effectiveness at achieving them.
Web and Media Communications
- Ensure a smooth and timely transition for the migration of legacy websites into the new design in phase 2 and phase 3;
- Oversee the development of a Swarthmore mobile site;
- Engage our constituency groups, particularly alumni, by further developing the College's social media presence.
- Finalize a strategic marketing plan and add another layer of complexity: targeting specific messages to key donor groups. What resonates with young alumni? Parents? Garnet Sages?
- Produce a visually compelling, content-rich Annual Report;
- Expand the Giving website so that it offers information in real time about fundraising objectives and, where appropriate, recognizes donors and their contributions.
Creative and Editorial Services
- With the other directors, create a management team that is effective, communicates well, and is collaborative, and forward thinking.
- Continue to subtly lead the Bulletin into a more-vibrant future, both graphically and editorially, by giving greater play to images, through editing that will allow for more white space, and by making the stories more sprightly and engaging. Seek out subtle ways to improve the magazine before initiating a redesign, e.g., finding a better-quality paper that also contains more recycled content than does the present paper.
- Begin the process of recrafting the magazine website so it is more inviting, engaging, interactive and original in its content. This may include areas for wedding and other alumni-submitted photos and multimedia designed to extend the print storytelling platform.
- Meet with more alumni to learn their thoughts on the Bulletin and conduct a readership survey that will assist in achieving this goal.
The division is currently working with a consultant to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the College's communications efforts. This study is using focus groups, survey research, and College data to create a very nuanced reflection of how well we are doing in telling our story, and what changes we might make to improve effectiveness. This effort will result in clear, goal-specific, actionable information that will enable Communications to support institutional strategic objectives.
Communications also conducts more routine assessments such as a reader survey about a recent issue of the Bulletin (the College's alumni magazine), which focused on content and reader engagement. This survey will be repeated in the following quarter in order to evaluate the overall effectiveness of recent editorial changes and to provide information that may prove useful in the proposed redesign. A staff retreat in the division last summer examined mission and teamwork in the division and identified activities that are now being undertaken to improve team members' interactions and communications with one another.
In the next few years the Communications Office will work with some of the standard metrics it has collected over the years to examine its effectiveness on the Web and through social media in particular. Soon the division will begin focusing on an assessment of development communications in order to support the campaign. This work will be the focus of considerable assessment activity.