Beloit College Case Study

Dittoe PR Leads Liberal Arts College in Preparing for, Overcoming Crisis Situations

With nearly 1,000 undergraduates and a network of 16,000 alumni, Beloit College must be prepared for navigating and responding to a multitude of crisis scenarios. In the event of an emergency or controversial issue, planning for the coordination of communication internally and between the college, media and public is a top priority.

Beloit College needed a public relations partner with crisis management experience to help guide it through sensitive and highly charged matters impacting or involving students on campus.

Challenge

Founded in 1846, Beloit College is a private liberal-arts college in southern Wisconsin. The state’s oldest continuously operated college, the institution ranked #75 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges list.

With nearly 1,000 undergraduates and a network of 16,000 alumni, Beloit College must be prepared for navigating and responding to a multitude of crisis scenarios. In the event of an emergency or controversial issue, planning for the coordination of communication internally and between the college, media and public is a top priority.

Beloit College needed a public relations partner with crisis management experience to help guide it through sensitive and highly charged matters impacting or involving students on campus.

Solution

Beloit College called upon Dittoe Public Relations to help plan and execute proactive and reactive media strategies in the event of a crisis.

In one event, a polarizing businessman was set to speak at the college, and controversy erupted as students vocalized their concerns, demanding he be prevented from giving his talk.

Given the magnitude of the situation, Dittoe PR met with Beloit College leaders and the communications team to outline potential scenarios that could develop and how Beloit College should respond. Those situations included the possibility of the speaker’s engagement being canceled, orderly protests by students, disorderly conduct by students and more.

Media responses, holding statements, key messaging and best practices for media interviews were outlined. In addition, Dittoe PR encouraged Beloit College to share a list of ways that students could protest the event that were not disruptive and partnered with local student organizations to plan and promote counter-events that students could attend instead.

At the presentation start time, a group of students caused a stir, eventually leading to the cancellation of the speaker’s presentation to ensure the safety of all attendees. Less than an hour later, the speaker condemned how Beloit College handled the incident in an interview with the local newspaper. The negative story began circulating immediately and quickly gained the public’s attention.

Dittoe PR and Beloit College jumped into action, promptly revising the prepared media statements with updated language. The agency also collaborated with a Beloit College student organization on a statement that denounced the disruptive student tactics. Both statements were sent to news outlets and were included in stories about the incident. In addition, Dittoe PR worked with the president of Beloit College to draft and finalize a letter that was sent out to all students, staff, faculty and alumni.

A week after the incident, Dittoe PR executed a proactive media relations campaign to help minimize search results of the stories that covered the Beloit College canceled event. This involved highlighting student success stories in priority enrollment markets, thought leadership interviews from professors on relevant subject matters, and more.

Beloit College Results

Although the incident garnered over 100 news stories, the majority of them were updated with the statement from Beloit College that criticized the actions of students who did not engage in peaceful protesting. In the months following the incident, Dittoe PR’s proactive media relations campaign led to:

 

  • 99 positive media stories for Beloit College.
  • Over 19 million media impressions.
  • $239,312 in estimated advertising value.

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Dittoe PR Leads Liberal Arts College in Preparing for, Overcoming Crisis Situations

Beloit College called upon Dittoe Public Relations to help plan and execute proactive and reactive media strategies in the event of a crisis.

In one event, a polarizing businessman was set to speak at the college, and controversy erupted as students vocalized their concerns, demanding he be prevented from giving his talk.

KEEP READING

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