Dittoe Public Relations Supports Storytelling, Growth
for Online University WGU Indiana and its Central Region

The Challenge

In 2019, Dittoe Public Relations was hired to manage PR and social media for WGU Indiana, a nonprofit, accredited, online university that serves students from all different backgrounds, particularly those who are not well-served by traditional colleges. After previous engagements that lacked impactful results, the University’s primary goal was to find a long-term agency partner who could tell their story in a meaningful way.

As the first state-endorsed online university in the Hoosier state, WGU Indiana serves more than 5,600 students spanning all 92 counties in the state as well as a network of more than 10,000 alumni. Students are often adult learners with 82% of the student population working full- or part-time while earning their WGU Indiana degree. In addition to providing more than 60-degree programs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year, the University emphasizes four key access points: cost, flexibility, place and time.

Given its audience, education offerings and much more, there is no shortage of storytelling opportunities; however, WGU Indiana needed a reliable agency partner to help tell those stories to their key audiences. The momentum of impactful and consistent media coverage had fallen short, but Dittoe PR there was a significant opportunity to increase WGU Indiana’s level of awareness and status as a leader in higher education.

What’s more, as WGU expanded its reach into the Central Region in 2020, its need for PR support beyond the state of Indiana and into five additional states also grew. Dittoe PR eagerly took on the challenge of telling WGU’s story across the entire region.

Our Solution

Dittoe PR’s approach to a successful partnership included consistent, open communication paired with strategic, results-driven efforts for both PR and social media campaigns.

To ensure success, Dittoe PR took the task of storytelling to heart by developing angles rooted in human interest and trending news. To tell the story of WGU Indiana and its Central Region, Dittoe PR had to first focus on the students and alumni who have experienced the University’s commitment to equitable education access, workforce development and career readiness. Less promotional language and instead more meaningful stories that truly connect with those who consume them.

With social media, Dittoe PR capitalized on storytelling in new ways and paired compelling written content with imagery and videos developed in collaboration with the WGU team. In addition to storytelling, a strategic combination of follower acquisition, two-way engagements with followers and mindful timing and frequency of content sharing helped to create a successful strategic framework for management and growth.

Together, Dittoe PR’s team collaborated across all efforts to create a cohesive, streamlined strategy to support PR and social media goals. For larger campaigns, especially those that had a regional reach, the team crafted individualized strategies to align internally and with WGU Indiana’s team.

Results

Dittoe PR exceeded expectations nearly immediately, building trust and rapport with WGU Indiana’s team through strong client-agency communication and even stronger results. Initial goals were set by WGU Indiana, including quarterly thought leadership and major media placements, monthly SEO-valuable press releases and an annual innovative PR idea.

In the first eight months of the partnership, Dittoe PR secured:

  • 181 media hits.
  • 55 million media impressions.
  • Over $750,000 in advertising value.

In volume alone, results were drastically higher than any PR results secured on behalf of WGU Indiana in years past.

In early 2020, WGU began to regionalize, creating opportunities for Dittoe PR to expand PR initiatives across six states and social media efforts across two states. By July 2020, this expansion came to fruition. Despite the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dittoe PR reported:

  • 312 media hits.
  • 179 million media impressions.
  • $1,712,235 in advertising value across the region.
  • 96 content pieces.

Key coverage drivers included student and alumni stories within hyperlocal markets, large-scale campaigns like Night Shift Nurses each November, and state- and region-wide op-ed campaigns on behalf of Chancellor and Regional Vice President Alison Bell and other university leaders.

Social media efforts for WGU Indiana and WGU Ohio channels resulted in positive increases in followers, engagements and impressions across all active channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Among other significant growth metrics, in 2020, WGU Indiana experienced a:

  • 98% increase in impressions on Facebook.
  • 19% increase in followers on Instagram.

In the five months Dittoe PR managed WGU Ohio’s social media channels, the organization experienced a:

  • 131% increase in impressions on Facebook.
  • 344% increase in engagements on Twitter.
  • 323% increase in impressions.
  • 616% increase in engagements on LinkedIn.
  • 348% increase in impressions.
  • 692% increase in engagements on Instagram.

Quickly and over time, Dittoe PR’s team became a true extension of the WGU team, creating a strong partnership that has the ability to withstand the test of time and obstacles to scale the University’s awareness, enrollment and credibility throughout Indiana and the Central Region.

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