Internal Digital Communication Policy
Effective Date: October 1, 2016
Last Update: August 15, 2016
Responsible SAC Member: Vice President for Finance and Operations
Policy Owner: Chief Information Officer in partnership with Technology @ Wheaton Governance
Policy Contact: Wendy Woodward, Chief Information Officer (x5900)
Members of the campus community who wish to communicate or share information with a significant number of students, faculty, and staff must carefully consider and implement a multi-channel communication strategy (explained below) which minimizes use of email and makes use of the array of digital communication channels available to the Wheaton community.
In order to maximize effectiveness, all messaging must be well-written, concise, accurate, targeted to the proper audiences, and use other effective communication best practices as outlined in the appendices below. Messaging should be limited to an initial announcement and up to one reminder notice, if needed. Messages should be sent ONLY to the appropriate audience(s).
Inappropriate use of digital notification includes, but is not limited to:
- Messages contrary to the mission of the College.
- Messages that are personal in nature or advertise for non-college entities.
- Messages that are commercial advertisements. Examples include:
- Commercial advertising for merchants or service providers external to the College, except for notices of services and discounts arranged for members of the College community by the College.
- Solicitations for contributions, charities, or participation in personal activities not related to College purposes or not sponsored by the College.
- Solicitations for non-College businesses operated by College faculty or staff.
- Surveys or solicitations to members of the community selected on demographic characteristics, such as to selected groups or individuals identified as candidates for research subjects (unless approved and distributed by Institutional Research).
- Targeted audiences that might appear discriminatory or may appear to infringe on privacy.
Academic and Administrative departments who have operational needs to communicate directly with their audiences should do so in a manner that is consistent with this policy by consolidating messaging when possible and ensuring that effective communication best practices are followed.
Reason for Policy
It is our goal to foster effective communication across campus. When messaging is repeated, inaccurate, or sent to the wrong audiences, users become frustrated and efficiency is diminished. Wheaton College Academic and Institutional Technology (AIT) makes available multiple resources to increase the reach and effectiveness of digital messages.
Use the following multi-channel communication options to communicate important messages:
|Type of Message||Audience||Communication Tool||Sending Process||Examples|
|Critical or highly important messages; information that is not optional; information that is time sensitive||All campus or large segments of campus (all faculty, all students, etc.)||Bulk email; recipients cannot opt-out||
AIT or authorized groups that consistently adhere to this policy, send out these messages. Each VP/dean/director decides for his/her units who the staff are who are authorized to send this content to AIT for distribution or to send to the appropriate group. Each VP/dean/director needs to communicate that decision to his/her people. AIT and approved senders will review to ensure that messaging meets institutional guidelines for internal digital communication and then will send out.
|President announcements; technology disruption; safety issue; significant business process change|
|General campus announcements about events, activities, things people need to know||All campus or large segments of campus (all faculty, all students, etc.)||
Wheaton Campus Announcements Email; Tuesday and Friday email that consolidates information from across campus; recipients cannot opt-out
AIT sends out these messages. Two to three sentence messages are submitted via a JotForm indicating who, what, where, when, with a link to additional information. Each VP/dean/director decides for his/her units who the staff are who are authorized to send this content to AIT for distribution. Each VP/dean/director needs to communicate that decision to his/her people. AIT will ensure that it meets institutional guidelines for internal digital communication and then will send out.* Entering an event in 25Live will automatically place it on the appropriate portal calendar.
|Faculty book discussion; Tech Talk; training event; special lecture; Gospel Choir; Humanities Brown Bag; new employee announcement|
|Department-level, consolidated information that is delivered in a consistent way; includes announcements, resource reminders, best practices, success stories||Department staff, students, & faculty||eNewsletters by department that are sent via the bulk email tool; recipients can opt-out annually||Each department will be responsible for populating the content of an eNewsletter. AIT and MarComm can assist with templates. Will require some technical expertise by department. Frequency recommended monthly to quarterly.||AIT’s Technology Review; Library & Archives eNews; HR eNews; Faculty Bulletin|
|Group or club updates and event announcements; can also facilitate two-way communication||Club or group members; others as interested||
Opt-in by participation or going to sign-up web site;
|A dean/director/VP must authorize the appropriateness of the list/group. Once authorized, AIT assists with setting up the initial list/group. The list/group owner is responsible for sending messages and moderating the discussions to ensure College policy is adhered to.||
A student activity group; Bon Appetit;Artist Series Subscribers;
AIT has created the following website with more information regarding the available digital communication channels with links for service requests
Throughout this document, digital notification is defined as unsolicited mass communication to the campus. Although Wheaton’s primary mechanisms for digital notification are bulk email and the Wheaton Portal, the principles and policies contained in this document extend to other forms of digital notification not explicitly mentioned in this document.
AIT is responsible for managing and supporting secure and reliable digital communication platforms as outlined above, including facilitating appropriate process around questionable communication requests.
Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors are responsible for working with their areas to ensure that digital communication adheres to this policy and its intent to improve communication effectiveness and reduce unwanted email.
Campus Communicators are responsible for ensuring that digital communication adheres to this policy and its intent to improve communication effectiveness and reduce unwanted email. They are also responsible for submitting service requests by the established deadlines to ensure the desired result. Campus communicators who flagrantly disregard the guidelines of this policy may have their communication privileges revoked.
The Campus Community is responsible for unsubscribing to messages that they are not interested in receiving, where possible, and extending grace when messages that are not of interest arrive in their inboxes.
Effective Communication Best Practices
- Notifications must contain descriptive headings and subject lines (if email), be concise, and easy to skim.
- Avoid complex sentences or long paragraphs of text. Instead keep each paragraph to 2-4 short sentences.
- When a large amount of text-based information needs to be communicated, we recommend sending a brief explanation that includes a link to a Wheaton web page or document in ThunderCloud storage (Box) containing the longer instructions.
- Information should be accurate. Ensure that date, time, and location information are all correct the first time.
- Proofread your notification for grammatical or typographical errors.
- All digital notifications should read clearly on all screen sizes and platforms on which they may be viewed.
- Messages should include a point of contact for questions and clearly identify as being sent from a specific person or department of Wheaton College.
Relevance and Frequency
- All digital notifications should be relevant (have value) to the majority of the recipient audience.
- Avoid sending frequent or repeated messages. It is not appropriate to send more than one announcement and one “day-of” reminder.
- Messages of similar content type should be consolidated when possible. Digests and monthly or quarterly newsletters that combine announcements are strongly encouraged.
- Messages that are optional must provide a way for receivers to unsubscribe.
- Do not use an embedded picture as the only form of communication within a digital notification. This often leads to readability problems with smartphones and email preview panes. If you would like to use an embedded picture as part of a message, it should come with an addressed cover note.
- More than 50% of campus notifications are viewed on phones, so digital notifications should be easily readable on a phone screen. Whenever possible, preview the message on a smart phone before sending/publishing.
- Adhere to college brand standards found in the Marketing Communications Brand Guidelines.
Attachments & Linked Content
- Whenever possible, avoid sending attachments. Especially in scenarios involving text-based material, consider whether the Wheaton website or link to a document in ThunderCloud storage (Box) is a better place to host that content.
- For attachments larger than 15MB, we recommend sharing a link to the files using ThunderCloud storage (Box). This method is more secure and it saves inbox space.