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Communications Case Studies

Click the titles below for details on how some recent Communications Office projects came together, from proposal to roll-out.

'Hydrogen Tractor' Dispatch


Audience: College community, alumni, prospective students, etc.

Goal: To highlight experiential-learning projects on campus, focusing on one project that students and alumni undertook in a winter term class

Process: Communications staff visited an off-campus site where students and alumni had successfully converted a farm tractor to run on hydrogen. They interviewed the students and alumni about the project and took photos. Excerpts from the interviews and select photos were then chosen to produce an audio slideshow highlighting interesting aspects of what the students had accomplished. Text was also written to accompany the slideshow and provide background information.

Outcome: An online Dispatch illustrating students working on a project outside the classroom and benefitting from the expertise of the alumni who worked closely with them.                       


Education in Action website

Client: Education in Action

Audience: Primary: Current students; Secondary: Alums, faculty, employers, and parents

Goal: To unify existing and individual campus offices into a single new organization

Process: Communications worked closely with EIA for more than six months to create a new website that would combine and highlight the offices of career services, civic engagement, fellowships, and graduate programs. The intricate and involved process included website analysis (i.e., what stays, what goes), followed by content revision and content development, with help and input from the entire EIA staff.

Outcome: A great looking, user-friendly, and highly informative new site launched on June 1, 2012. Not only was the content more relevant to the newly organized office, but also the previously cumbersome page count was reduced from 348 to 197.


Professor Pundits video series

Client: and the Public Affairs Office

Audience: Students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students, news media

Goal: To showcase the expertise of two political science professors during a presidential election year

Process: Two of our political science faculty experts specialize in election politics, and we thought a video series in which they offered in-depth nonpartisan analysis of the presidential campaigns would be a timely way to engage the Middlebury community. Professors Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson have a fun, natural rapport with each other that comes across well in video. We came up with the name Professor Pundits and commissioned a caricature of the two professors to be used for promotion. We tried a pilot episode, which worked well, and decided to continue with the series through the presidential election.

Outcome: A fun and smart video series of political discussions based on in-depth analysis. Several of the episodes have resulted in spirited debate in the comments section on We offered the content to Vermont Public Radio, which picked up the series on its website and promotes the videos on-air. After the videos are posted to, we also post a link from the College home page, Tweet each new episode, link from the political science department’s website, and post to our Facebook page.      


Davis UWC Scholars Web redesign

Client: Davis United World College Scholars Program

Goal: To improve the program’s website so that it accurately reflects the program’s noteworthy goals and impact—internationally and in American higher ed

Audience: Donors, potential donors, and partner institutions

Process: This was a nine-month project undertaken on behalf of the Davis UWC Scholars Program. First step: Meet with Davis Scholars staff to hear their concerns about the current site. 2) Read all content and use the site. 3) Get background information by researching websites of other distinguished scholarship programs and charitable foundations. 4) Write and present analysis to Davis Scholars staff. 5) Respond to their feedback, propose changes, i.e., what content to jettison, revise, or regroup; how the site should navigate; what it should look like. 6) Work closely with LIS on the coding so that the new design can be presented in Drupal. 7) Site is designed, finessed, and presented to Davis Scholars Program. 8) Feedback and corrections. 9) Site goes live in the spring of 2012.

Outcome: A clean, dynamic, navigable website that easily conveys the program’s mission and impact.


Hairspray: The Making of a J-term Musical


Goal: To highlight a J-term course that told many different stories about the student experience and campus culture at Middlebury

Audience: Students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students

Process: For the past several years, the College has produced a fully staged musical-theater production during the short winter term session. When the editorial staff at heard that the College would be producing Hairspray, we knew it was a perfect opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at how something this big and complicated comes together in such a short time. It also gave us a chance to show off the talent and commitment of our students, for whom the show occupied nearly every waking hour of winter term. Additionally, Hairspray is a show about race relations, which gave us a chance to explore some of those issues with the cast members during Martin Luther King Jr. month.

Outcome: We produced a 15-minute video, with five short chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of the student production. As a whole, it follows the cast and crew from rehearsal room to opening night. The video is one of the most viewed and most commented-on posts at


Annual Language School director letters

Client: Language Schools

Goal: To increase participation and donations from LS-only alumni

Audience: Alumni of Language Schools only (i.e. no other Middlebury programs

Process: Communications drafted the letters for each of the ten Language School directors to be mailed to students of each school. This entailed interviewing each director to get a sense of what the summer’s highlights were in the program. The letters were personal and nostalgic, reminding the students of what a tremendous experience the Language Schools provide and the importance of supporting them financially.

Outcome: The letters were a success, increasing donations from LS-only alumni significantly. Will become an annual approach for appeal.

Preview Days booklet

Client: Admissions

Goal: To help prospective students feel welcome and oriented while visiting campus during spring preview days

Audience: Prospective students and families

Process: Admissions wanted to update the look of the printed schedule that prospective families receive upon arrival on campus. After reviewing the previous version of this schedule, we discovered that it was poorly organized. Taking inspiration from other publications, we updated the look of the booklet and also streamlined and clarified the schedule of events, included a campus map with relevant locations highlighted, and added at-a-glance icons to make it clear who was welcome at each event.

Outcome: This was only one of several communications tools we helped create for Admissions during their “yield” period—when prospective students are choosing where to enroll. Admissions staff were proud to share the booklet with the families and are planning on updating the equivalent version for Febs.