Project Description

About Beloit College

Beloit College is a private liberal arts college in Beloit, Wisconsin. Founded in 1846, while Wisconsin was still a territory, it is the oldest continuously operated college in the state. It is recognized for its longstanding commitment to curricular innovation, as well as its first-year initiatives and international education programs.

The Beloit College community is diverse and recognized for its passionate engagement with ideas and the world as its 1,300 students are from nearly every state as well as 44 nations. Beloit College offers more than 50 majors, 30 minors, more than 30 international programs, a number of dual-degree and pre-professional programs, and dozens of domestic study programs.

The Higher Education Crisis Amid COVID-19  

In March 2020, Beloit College, like thousands of other universities across the country, was forced to shut down its campus due to stay-at-home orders and make immediate pivots to online learning. The negative impact on learning and the economy due to COVID-19 caused widespread distress across the entire higher education sector.

Millions of college students struggled with the move to distant learning, with 81% of them feeling they couldn’t perform academically at the level they normally would on-campus. Instructors also were overwhelmed with teaching numerous courses online and finding ways to connect with students virtually. And due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, nearly 70% of parents became worried about paying for college.

Realizing that these challenges brought on by the pandemic would continue into the fall semester and beyond, Beloit College took immediate action and became the first institution nationwide to launch a groundbreaking plan to address the radical changes caused by COVID-19. The plan, called the Beloit Action Plan, included the following initiatives:

  • Mods: A modular course structure that eliminates the pressure of managing four courses at a time by splitting up the semester into two Mods. Mods are designed to minimize disruption should a change between in-person and remote learning occur mid-semester.
  • Midwest Flagship Match: Allows new students from six Midwestern states to enroll at Beloit without paying more than it would cost to attend their flagship state school. The states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
  • Advanced Mentoring Program. Provides a faculty advisor to students within 72 hours of the time they deposit and offers cohort-based mentoring that continues through the first two years.
  • Career Channels: Helps students imagine what they are looking for in their careers at the same time they’re taking classes.
  • Offering ninth and tenth semesters freeto students who enroll full-time during the 2020-21 school year.

Spreading the Word on Beloit Action Plan

As Beloit College’s strategic PR partner, Dittoe Public Relations was tasked with generating positive media coverage for the Beloit Action Plan. To accomplish this, the agency launched a media relations campaign to position the plan as a smart and pragmatic approach to delivering a vibrant college experience in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Dittoe PR engaged in personalized pitching efforts with key reporters across numerous verticals, including national, regional, and trade. Our efforts focused on pitching key aspects of the plan that we believed would be of greatest interest to each reporter based on their specific coverage beat.

National higher education reporters, for instance, were more interested in Mods, the new course structure designed to respond to evolving social and environmental factors caused by the pandemic. With personal finance and money reporters, Dittoe PR touted the Midwest Flagship Match program and tuition-free semesters initiative as efforts to make attending college more affordable.

Dittoe PR also connected with reporters at newspapers and TV stations across the state of Wisconsin, as well as higher education publications, to generate further awareness.

Results

Shortly after landing top stories with The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, ABC News, and FOX Business, Dittoe PR earned additional media hits with The Washington Post, Cheddar, CNBC, and Yahoo Finance. Dittoe PR also secured an interview with Marketplace Morning Report, a nationally-syndicated morning show with NPR that drove numerus media mentions with local radio stations.

Outside of securing top media coverage with almost every top national media outlet in the country, Dittoe PR also secured standalone stories within higher education publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Business, Education Dive, and Inside Higher Education.

Creating buzz regionally was also very important to Beloit College. Through personalized pitching efforts with key contacts, Dittoe PR secured opportunities with Wisconsin State Journal, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Post Crescent, Wisconsin Public Radio, and more.

In the first 30 days following the plan’s launch in April, Dittoe PR secured 147 media hits. To date, Dittoe PR has secured 402 media stories, 2.8 billion media impressions and $22 million in advertising equivalency for Beloit College.

Dittoe PR garnering national attention for the Beloit Action Plan helped the College earn a No. 5 ranking on US News & World’s Report list of the Most Innovative Liberal Arts Schools in America. It was the first time Beloit College ever received the distinction, which is based strictly on peer review and nomination of the country’s top college officials.