Avoiding a Communications Crunch

COVID-19 Communication Response


The yearlong COVID crisis presented an opportunity to develop communication strategies that transitioned an emergency response into a long-haul approach. Westminster created flexible and sustained communication strategies that allowed the university to pivot easily during additional emergencies in 2020 on top of COVID.

Just as Westminster was coming to grips with the realities and anxieties of a global pandemic, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Salt Lake City on the morning of March 18. Residential students, shaken awake, evacuated their halls. Campus facility crews rushed to check utility lines and building damage. No one was hurt, but we were all rattled. In September of 2020, Westminster pivoted again when hurricane force winds toppled trees and knocked out power across campus and the city—leaving many students and employees without power for up to a week. Westminster maintained consistent COVID communications while also addressing these emergencies. 

Westminster’s Office of Marketing and Communication (Marcomm) led COVID communications with university leadership and a COVID working group. Our goal was to provide timely, clear information to keep our community safe and instill confidence in the institution. Westminster’s COVID communications began in January 2020–letting our audiences know early on the university was preparing. Our COVID communications continued regularly through December 2020. Early and frequent communications were key to our nimble and sustained approach. 



  • Visual Identity System
  • COVID Communication Template
  • Expanded Website Presence
  • Photography
  • Preparing for Fall Semester Campaign
  • Weekly COVID Updates


Westminster’s goal was to provide timely, clear information to keep people safe and instill confidence in the university through frequent and customized communications. Email open rates and other communication metrics show we were successful in reaching our audiences. Westminster is a small liberal arts university with approximately 2,800 people in our student, staff, and faculty population.

Fall Email Campaign Results 

The Preparing for Fall Semester Campaign had excellent open rates. Incoming students had the highest cumulative open rate for the email series (55%), followed by returning students (54%). Parents of incoming students had the highest cumulative click-to-open rate (26%). See full Preparing for Fall Semester Campaign results and robust email content in the attachment.

Social Media Results

The “Hi from Home” series had 1,156 actions/engagements and 89,555 Instagram Story views. The faculty spotlight series had 538 actions/engagements and 36,238 Instagram Story views. COVID updates had 104,055 Instagram Story views.

Website Results

Since Jan. 1. 2020, Westminster’s COVID page had 4,161 pageviews and 1,799 unique page views.

Emergency Notification Results

Westminster’s Emergency Notification System (ENS) is the university’s most effective communication tool for urgent needs. The ENS sends every campus community member an alert via text, email, and phone call. 

Multimedia Campaign