C is for Communicating Edit

Day two of the September SCALERS series: 

Communicating: “the effectiveness with which the organization is able to persuade key stakeholders that its change strategy is worth adopting and/or supporting.” (Bloom & Chatterji, 2009)

This piece was originally published on the blog 
Accelerating Achievement and is bring reprinted with permission. Accelerating Achievement features news and research from the Developmental Education Initiative, an effort by MDC, a nonprofit in Chapel Hill, N.C., to scale up effective remedial education practices at community colleges and states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform effort. DEI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

SCALERS Series: C is for Communicating

When you think communications, it’s not just marketing, it’s telling the story in a way that will make the value of your work clear to everyone on campus. A compelling message will help students, faculty and staff understand that your change strategy is essential to student success and worth adopting and supporting.

In order to ensure the necessary participation in scaling up your strategy, you’ll need to clearly articulate the rationale, expectations, commitment, and process for the expansion. Once you figure out how to say it, figure out how to share it. What formats are appropriate for getting your information out to faculty, staff, and students? Consider websites and course catalogs, as well as program-specific convenings and marketing materials.

Communication is an ongoing need, so put processes in place to share up-to-date information about the program to responsible faculty and staff as well as students and all departments and individuals responsible for enrolling, counseling, and advising students. Pay close attention to making sure individuals with authority understand the enrollment, registration, and scheduling changes that are required for successful expansion of your program.

When Patrick Henry Community College began the Developmental Education Initiative, they formed a committee to launch and maintain a marketing campaign for their DEI work, known as the Progress Initiative. The Progress Initiative focuses on fast-tracking students through developmental education in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), which also incorporates cooperative learning and case-management advising. To create buy-in across the campus for this program, the committee developed an exciting verbal and visual identity for the Progress Initiative. They launched the campaign with a public event featuring a nationally known speaker, and the team made presentations at a variety of campus meetings to acquaint faculty and staff with the initiative. Once PHCC had effectively established an identity for the Progress Initiative, they worked to reinforce it over time. All faculty who present about the initiative are given a thumb drive loaded with the logo and the theme music as well as T-shirts with the logo on it.

You probably don’t need a full marketing campaign for every program you expand, but you do need to create a communications plan that determines the appropriate methods and processes for sharing the necessary information with your campus. PHCC is a stellar example of using communications to persuade faculty, staff, and students to support a strategy. What are your communication success stories? What problems have you encountered in getting the word out?