We believe communication accelerates change.
We will establish and drive mechanisms to enhance our connectedness, frequently and effectively sharing our reform efforts and stories of success. We will marshal public opinion toward a deeper understanding of the challenges facing our students and the solutions being championed by our movement, focusing all Americans on a shared vision for the future of higher education.
Empower communications experts to be leaders in the movement
The Complete College Alliance Team’s Communications Lead will serve as the primary contact for Complete College America on all efforts related to communications and media strategy, including helping to identify opportunities within the state, region, or consortia. This individual must coordinate with other members of the Complete College Alliance Team and serve as a leader on advancing college completion.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementation Teams include a communications professional who makes meaningful recommendations about Alliance activities and drives momentum.
Develop a network of communications ambassadors
As Complete College Alliance Teams work to share successes and highlight stories from both within states and regions and around the country, their Communications Leads must cultivate a list of ambassadors, validators and additional communications professionals within their state or region who will help to share content throughout their networks. Amplifying the messages through this network will ensure broader reach and awareness around college completion strategies and the role various players have in implementation.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team’s Communications Lead has compiled a list of individuals willing to serve as communications ambassadors.
Develop a communications plan for college completion efforts
The Communications Lead must work with the full Complete College Alliance Team and communications ambassadors to assess audiences, construct key messages and lay out which communications tactics will be useful in advancing college completion, including concrete goals on outreach, audience growth, and other outcomes.
The Standard is met when a communications plan is developed that includes proposed tactics and concrete goals.
Tailor messaging and tactics to speak to and motivate various audiences
Advancing a movement requires understanding of the backgrounds and motivations of a variety of audiences, particularly as it relates to equity goals and strategies. The Complete College Alliance Team’s Communications Lead – as well as communications ambassadors – must understand different perspectives and craft a communications strategy that will build buy-in from those who are critical to the successful scaling of strategies. Effective communications should leverage the data in the form of compelling visualizations. Information should be reported publicly to key stakeholders in the form of concise and assertive materials that focus on the problem, the impact on students, and proposed solutions.
The Standard is met when all Complete College Alliance Team Members intentionally communicate with diverse institutions and individuals, within their state or region, with language that represents the shared values within the planned strategies.
Regularly showcase efforts, successes and stories
Based on information received from Implementation and Data Leads, the Communications Lead must curate written, recorded, and presented content designed to highlight leaders who are guiding efforts and capture videos of students who are impacted by the strategies that have been implemented. Data should be integrated wherever possible in digestible manner that tells an accurate story. (See Data Scaling Standards for more.) These tactics help share the story of the reform and highlight the great work underway. In coordination with other leaders, success stories should also be shared with local and regional press. Additionally, information related to the goals of interventions, progress being made on implementation, and decision points that define the intervention should be shared across stakeholders.
Complete College Alliance Teams, under the leadership of the Communications Lead, will create local mechanisms to distribute content, including monthly newsletters, success events, press conferences and social media accounts (for example: @CompleteCollegeWyoming).
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team has developed customized, local mechanisms to distribute stories of implementation and success, and all impacted stakeholders must be informed of efforts.
Leverage CCA’s broad stakeholder network and robust online platform to further spotlight successes
Complete College America will provide a robust online portal that will serve as a hub for our regional, state, and national efforts. The platform will be an activity center of the college completion movement, showcasing Alliance work and regularly updated content on implementation efforts. In addition to providing content for the platform, Complete College Alliance Teams, led by their Communications Lead, should share their stories and successes with Complete College America so that they can be distributed more broadly, including to national press as appropriate.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team’s Communications Lead provides a calendar for submitting content to highlight Alliance member’s efforts.
Monitor success of communications efforts and refine tactics
Communications efforts must have clear goals on outreach, audience growth, and other measurable outcomes. This will include: number of visitors to the CCA platform Alliance Member page, followers on social media, media mentions and number of publications produced. The Complete College Alliance Team’s Communications Lead should work with other team members and communications ambassadors to ensure constant refinement and deployment of new tactics, as necessary.
The Standard is met when Communications Leads have developed and are actively tracking the metrics and goals against which they will measure success of their communications strategies.
For Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementation Teams that commit to these scaling standards, Complete College America commits the following resources in return:
- Support in the development of communications plans and tactics to highlight the Alliance member’s work and status of implementations.
- An online platform to highlight state efforts, including an individual state page that collects stories, resources and data on state implementation efforts.
- Opportunities for further exposure through Complete College America’s existing network – including monthly newsletters, standalone video content and a venue to showcase the Alliance member’s work at national and regional events.
- Communication templates that can be deployed within institutions that are customizable with the institutions’ own branding.