Website Audit Checklist

It’s been a few years since we launched Hope’s new website, and some of the corners are starting to collect dust. It’s time to freshen things up a bit! So, we’re asking every department, office and program at Hope to take a close look at their websites and make sure everything is shipshape.

We’ve put together a Web Content Audit Checklist (PDF) to guide you in examining and assessing your current web content. Please take a look at the document and plan to set aside some time this semester to review your website.

Without getting too terribly formal about it, here are three different approaches you can take:

1. I can do it!

You’ve got the checklist, and you’ve got the OU Campus know-how. Off you go! Let us know if you have any questions along the way. Otherwise, just tell us when you’re done, and we’ll scratch your website off our list.

2. I need a little help.

You’re ready to get started, but there are a few things on the list that you know you’ll need help with. Perfect! Get a hold of Josh Bishop ( or x7066) and let him know how he can help. He can answer your questions via email, or chat on the phone or set up a meeting. In the meantime, feel free to get started with the rest of it on your own.

3. I don’t know where to start.

That’s okay! Just let Josh know, and he’ll add you to our list of sites to audit on our own. We’ll run through the checklist for you, recommend some changes, and reach out to you if we have any questions.

Here’s that link to the Web Content Audit Checklist one more time.

As always, if you need any help with this project, don’t hesitate to let Josh know! He’ll be on hand to help with whatever you need.

Day of Giving Social Media Checklist

Six Weeks Out

  1. Do a quick checkup on your department’s social media accounts. Are they up to date? When is the last time you shared information? Are you following the Hope brand guidelines? Now is a good time to update your profiles to be ready for Day of Giving.
  2. Look for people you should be following on social media such as distinguished alumni, other Hope departments and offices, faculty and staff, etc. 
  3. Will you want to include videos in your outreach this year? What about making a Thank You video? Consider recording a video (using a smartphone) of your faculty and staff asking alumni and friends to give, or reach out to Elizabeth Council if you have another idea. Examples: and

One Month Out

  1. Select who will manage your department/organization’s social media on Day of Giving. 
  2. Identify key influencers within your department who are already active on social media. Ask them to play an active role on social media that day. Example:
  3. Begin promoting early by sharing the college’s “Save the Date” message

Week Before

  1. Make sure you have access to all the materials available for Day of Giving. PAM will provide sample photographs, graphics, social media updates, etc. Be sure your materials are readily available on Day of Giving. Example:
  2. Familiarize yourself with the Giving dashboard – so that you understand how the giving process works.
  3. If you still have not made your video(s), now’s the time. Recording on your smartphone is a great option.

Day Before

  1. Begin sharing information about Day of Giving such as the goal and a link to the giving page. You can use graphics provided in the resources folder or share the college’s tweets and posts.
  2. Send a reminder to faculty and staff who will be helping to promote social media. Remind them of the official hashtag: #give2hope and website

Day Of

  1. Begin early by sharing the college’s kick-off message and video.
  2. Check in the resources folder for any last-minute updates to content/photos.
  3. Continue encouraging others to give throughout the day by sharing photos, videos or graphics about and in support of your department. These can be prepared in advance or taken on the day of. 
  4. Retweet/share your faculty and alumni’s posts and tweets. Example:
  5. Watch for competitive “challenges” such as matching funds and giveaways. Share these on social media and encourage others to get in on the fun. 
  6. The last few hours of the event will be exciting. Be sure to share updates and the final numbers when they are in! 
  7. Don’t forget to share a big THANK YOU message to your donors!

General Tips and Reminders for Marketing Day of Giving

New Hope Athletics Magazine Debuts

Teamwork makes the dream work!

How I love that cliché! (And I’m sure you are well aware that we sportswriters adore a good hackneyed phrase whenever possible. We like to go the extra mile, put the ball in play, and knock it out of the park!)

But this one cliché is different. I love it because it captures the true, full essence of sport, or any concerted endeavor really — because no person is an island (another cliché I admit, but this time not a sporty one) and we need talented, committed and forward-thinking people around us to achieve goals and make dreams come true.

Orange and Blue Illustrated, the new Hope College Athletics magazine, is that dream come true.

Rolled off the presses this week, and to be published twice a year, the first issue of Orange and Blue Illustrated is the culmination of months’ worth of brainstorming, proposal-making, photographing, interviewing, writing, designing, editing and proof-reading. Its goal is simply this:

To show and tell the many inspiring stories of how Hope student-athletes, coaches and staff live out their mission every day to compete with excellence, learn with diligence and lead lives of leadership and service. Their transformational experiences in competition, in the classroom, in service opportunities, internships and laboratories are Hope mainstays. The people you see in uniform competing, striving, winning and losing, are also the same people who spend hours upon hours in plain clothes becoming and being their best selves. Frankly, we are proud of these student-athletes and coaches who really do work hard, very hard, to make a difference in arenas of play but especially outside of them.

While I have the privilege of serving as the managing editor of Orange and Blue Illustrated, I am surrounded by extremely talented people on the OBI team — Sports information director Alan Babbitt, whose original idea to create a Hope sports magazine got this ball rolling (if you are counting, that’s my fifth sports cliché!); graphic designer Kate Folkert ’99 (and no, we are not related); photographers James Ellis, Steven Herppich, Jon Lundstrom, Lynne Powe ’86 and Tom Renner ’67; writers Josh Bishop, Odille Parker ’14, James Rogers ’14 and Kenedy Schoonveld ’21; and all of my Public Affairs and Marketing colleagues who advised and cheered this process on toward the finish line. Thank you all very much!

And my many thanks also go to the Hope student-athletes and coaches who agreed to be featured in this very first issue. They truly had no idea what they were getting themselves into, but they said “yes” anyway and I’m so glad they did. When you open Orange and Blue Illustrated, I think you’ll find — no, I know you’ll find — stories about those at Hope who play and compete, learn and live with a greater purpose just as God intended.

Enjoy the ride! Er, I mean, the read.

Orange and Blue Illustrated in its entirety

Orange and Blue Illustrated story by story

Where to find weather-related announcements

The first week of spring-semester classes is almost behind us! I wish I could say the same about winter weather, but alas, the snow, wind and cold temperatures will be with us for a while yet. So, here is some information that you may wish to keep handy until the tulips start blooming: 

A decision to close campus offices and cancel classes is typically announced prior to 6:30 a.m. In the rare — and friends, it *IS* rare! — event that offices are closed and classes are cancelled, you can find the announcement in the following places:

  • Hope website: The announcement will be posted on and InHope.
  • Media: The announcement will be shared with local media, including WTHS radio and WOOD, WZZM and WWMT television stations.
  • Text alert: The announcement will be issued via the HOPE ALERT emergency text messaging system. Please take a few minutes to verify that your emergency contact information is current by doing the following:
    • Go to
    • Select “Personal Information.”
    • Select “Update Emergency Contacts.” Your name (Relationship: Self) and cell phone number entered as an Emergency Contact will register you to receive HOPE ALERT messages.

Remember, our proximity to Lake Michigan affects our temperatures and precipitation. This means that conditions on Hope’s campus may be very different from conditions on other college campuses across the state, even those nearby. If you see that a college in West Michigan is cancelling classes, please do not take it as an indication that Hope will, or should, cancel classes.

Bundle up, stay warm and enjoy the rest of the Michigan winter!

A Decade of Hope — 2010-2019

If you stand in the middle of the Pine Grove today, you’ll notice campus looks different than it did in 2010. It may feel a little different, too. As the landscape has changed with new facilities and improved amenities for students, so too has our ability to provide top-tier academic programs and life-changing faith formation experiences. 

New classes. New grants. New programs. New buildings … the list of ways we are innovating the student experience at Hope has us looking back at some of the most notable moments for the College over the past decade. 

Click the arrows in the presentation to navigate through some of the biggest moments at Hope over the past decade or click on a title block to read more. 

How to influence with LinkedIn

I recently attended the Detroit Digital Summit, an annual two-day event where digital marketers from industries across Michigan, Canada and beyond gather to share their best ideas and practices for working in the digital space. It’s one of my favorite conferences because it provides an opportunity to hear from marketing experts across all industries, and to learn how larger and smaller teams are tackling the same challenges we are. This year I took about 10 pages of notes. I was inspired.

One of the sessions I attended was focused on leveraging LinkedIn for thought leadership. Here’s a recap of my notes from that session.

linkedin app

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership should be connected to your organization’s vision. Sounds simple, right? So how do you know if your content aligns with your organization or professional goals. Ask yourself this: “Is what I’m sharing on LinkedIn truly what I want to be known for? Will it benefit my organization and my professional ambitions?”

Let’s also consider why people use LinkedIn. People go to LinkedIn to read about:

  • Industry trends
  • Tips/best practices
  • Jobs/skills
  • Leadership
  • Industry events

But that doesn’t mean LinkedIn is only for people in leadership positions or job seekers. LinkedIn is a social media channel for professional learning and development, sharing what you’ve learned, and connecting with people who can help you get a leg up, whatever your line of work is.

This means your LinkedIn content should be:

  • Educational
  • Relevant
  • Up on the latest trends
  • Inspirational, or
  • Focused on skill development. 

So your content meets these requirements but you’re still not sure that it’s working in your favor. Try using SCOR as your guide:

  • S – Structure gives it simplicity. Your followers expect a format/structure. This includes how often and when you publish on LinkedIn. Be consistent with what and when you share information.
  • C – Sometimes being a contrarian can make you interesting. Do/say what no one else is, but be “right” about it, i.e. educated on the topic. This can include perspectives on unanswered questions or respectfully sharing beliefs that are against the grain — and subsequently being prepared to continue a respectful conversation.
  • O – Ownable makes it distinctive. Be distinctive with your brand assets (font, shapes, colors, etc). Use colors or fonts that are not related to your competitors. Own your “look” and “voice” so that your connections automatically distinguish your content from everyone else.
  • R – Replication makes it valuable. Don’t share just once and be done. Have something really good to share? Share it again in a few weeks or months.

More Best Practices and Tips

  • Add your voice to content you’re already producing. Share/comment on others’ blog posts, news stories, media, etc.
  • Try video. Share short candid videos of yourself talking about a topic you’re passionate about. Aim for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
  • Tag other people in your posts.
  • Mega-batch your content, i.e. front load the work. Shoot 5 videos in one day to be distributed over time. Write 5 short posts in one sitting then periodically share each one.
  • 800-2000 words in an article gets the most engagement. 
  • Share content in at least 1 or 2 LinkedIn Groups. 
  • Reposition and repurpose your content – write about the same topic or idea from a different angle and share on other social media networks.
  • Look at analytics on your posts. Is this the data you expected? Analyze and adjust.

To talk more about best practices for social media engagement, contact Elizabeth Council, digital strategist at Hope College.

Upping our Instagram Game

One of the most common questions I hear from our social media managers across campus is, “Should our department have an Instagram account?” My usual response is that it depends on how much time you have to devote to Instagram, and how much visual content you have to share. In other words, you will need a lot of time and effort. Simply having an account and casually sharing your favorite photos is not enough these days. You have to be active, intentional and innovative to catch the attention of today and tomorrow’s students. 

In Public Affairs and Marketing, we’ve spent the past year focused on improving the Hope College Instagram account with more Stories, more and better multimedia content, and enhancing awareness for Hope’s academic excellence and vibrant campus life. Over the 12 months, with roughly the same number of posts, our effort has translated to more than 2,000 new followers and 22,000 more likes and comments than in the previous year.

A recent national survey of high school students reports as many as 85% of high school juniors use Instagram daily.

Here’s what we’ve been doing to make our Instagram account more Admissions-focused, while not forgetting the on-campus community that brings our Instagram to life:

More story-telling for prospective students

Profile page of Instagram Stories

A recent national survey of high school students reports as many as 85% of high school juniors use Instagram daily. These students are in the thick of their college search process, which means Instagram can be a powerful tool to reach and attract prospective students to Hope.

It’s no secret Instagram is great for sharing campus photography and video, but sometimes one or even ten photos can’t convey the mood or an idea the way a story can. Our social team began using Instagram Stories back in 2018 to showcase some of our most requested information such as “What’s involved in a campus tour?” and “What do the res halls look like?” Stories allow us to piece together photos and videos into a sequence that tells a larger story. And, we’re involving our current students in the process. They’ve taken our followers on virtual campus tours, shared what their rooms look like, what their clubs are up to, and more! We even save the best Stories as videos and post them to the Hope College YouTube account so they can be shared again.

Student takeovers

Social media takeovers have been a thing at Hope since 2016 when we launched our Snapchat account, but we’re doing this more frequently and strategically in 2019 by engaging with students to serve as ambassadors. These ambassadors, who represent departments, clubs and groups across campus, take over our Instagram for a day to highlight a special event, activity or theme. That’s right — we give students full access the college’s Story for up to 24 hours. But that’s so risky allowing students to have access to the college’s Instagram… you say. Yes, it is risky. But there’s also great reward in having authentic content for students, by students. According to the 2019 E-expectations Trend Report, 45% of high school students find student social media takeovers the most interesting content we can deliver.

10,000+ followers!

In August, we finally reached 10,000 followers on Instagram. This was a big deal for us because this magic number unlocked the “swipe up” feature in our account. This means we can now embed a website link within our story to share additional information about Hope such as a link to the Common Application, details about Hope’s residential and student life, our faith community, financial aid information, and more! 

Custom landing page 

One of the appeals of Instagram is that it has maintained a mostly visual focus without the information clutter of other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. But sometimes, the very thing that keeps Instagram clutter-free — the lack of external information —  limits our ability to share important details with our followers and people who are just learning about Hope.

For example, when we post a photo from one of our Anchor Days, wouldn’t it be great to also share a link to sign up for our next one? That’s where our landing page comes in! We’re using the URL in our profile to send users to a landing page that offers only links to some of our most-requested Admissions information such as how to apply, how to request more information and visit campus.


Instagram highlights

Instagram highlights are curated groupings of content from our Stories that our users can check out anytime, unlike Stories which are only available for 24 hours. And, because of their prime location right under our bio and above our photos, it’s an easy place to direct prospective students and parents to groupings of some of our most requested information.

New bling for stories

H gif

Another exciting advancement for the Hope Instagram account is the addition of Hope-branded Giphy stickers for Stories. These fun animated graphics are publicly searchable on Instagram, so anyone can use them to show their support and pride for Hope College. Speaking of Giphy, we also now have a Hope College brand channel that we’ll be adding fun Hope College GIFs to this year. 

Looking forward

As we kick off another academic year at Hope, I’m excited to watch our Instagram account serve as a highlight reel for our amazing campus community, and I can’t wait to see how this will translate into increased interest for Hope from prospective students and families.

To learn more about Hope’s social media strategy or how to use social media to increase awareness for your department, contact Elizabeth Council.

Web Accessibility Resources and Reminders

As we prepare for a new academic year, it’s a good time to take a moment and brush up on best practices for web accessibility.

Last year, we held an extensive web accessibility training session. Here are links to the video and materials from that session:

If you’d like a little refresher, here are some helpful tips!

  • Insert Edit Image dialog box showing where to enter alt text in OU CampusDo your images have high-quality alt-text?
    • Alt-text provides context to images. To insert alt-text on an image in OU Campus, enter content in the “Description” field
    • Good alt-text:
      • is concise and descriptive
      • conveys the meaning of the image
      • describes the subject of the image
      • describes action and/or emotion of the image
      • doesn’t start with “Image of…”
  • Is your content clear, concise, and well-structured?
    • Create structure with headings, lists, text, and media
    • Avoid able-assumptive language like describing something by the way that it looks (“the green button”) or verbs that assume ability (“click the button”).
  • Do you have high-quality link text?
    • Make the destination/action clear on links, don’t use “read more” or “click here”
  • Did you use the built-in tools to format your content?
    • Choose which list type (numbered or bulleted) to use based on the need, not the visuals (bulleted when order is not essential, numbered when the list has a sequence).
    • Nest headings by their rank (or level). The most important heading has the rank 1 (<h1>), the least important heading rank 6 (<h6>). Headings with an equal or higher rank start a new section, headings with a lower rank start new subsections that are part of the higher ranked section. Skipping heading ranks can be confusing and should be avoided: Make sure that a <h2> is not followed directly by an <h4>, for example.
  • Do videos have captions?
    • All videos that go on the Hope YouTube channel and/or are embedded on are required to be captioned. Contact us with questions.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at with any questions you have about website accessibility!

New WordPress Blog Theme Coming Soon

This summer we’ve been working on preparing the Hope Blog Network for a brand new WordPress Theme (Twenty Nineteen). The new theme which will also feature Hope branding will go live soon. We think you’ll love the simplicity, ample white space and overall modern look.

At the same time, we’ll be upgrading all Hope blogs to the new WordPress editor (called Gutenberg). The new editor features a simplified and improved editing experience and uses “blocks” to insert, rearrange and style content on your blog  — without technical knowledge. Here are instructions for blog admins.

Let us know what you think of the new Blog Theme!

Happy blogging!

National Victory! The 200th Rivalry Program Earns Top CoSIDA Award

It may not be college basketball season, but here in the Division of Public Affairs and Marketing, we are celebrating a special kind of hoops-related victory. 

“The Rivalry” — the highly anticipated showdown on the court between Hope College and Calvin College (now Calvin University) — has been called one of the best in the country by ESPN. And last month, a special game-day program for the 200th Rivalry earned an especially fitting honor: Best in the Nation

In June, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) awarded Hope College first place for “Special Event Program – College Division” as part of its 2018-19 Publications & Design Contests. CoSIDA’s “College Division” includes all non-NCAA Division I schools, including NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association.

It all started last year, when members of the Public Affairs and Marketing team pitched an idea: to create a unique piece commemorating the milestone match-up between the Hope and Calvin men’s basketball teams, taking place Feb. 2, 2019 at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse. The idea turned into a reality, resulting in a sharp 24-page piece that perfectly captured the high caliber of the competition. 

Kudos to the following members of the Hope College Public Affairs and Marketing team, whose collaboration yielded the award-winning program:

  • Eva Dean Folkert, director of communication services, served as the managing editor and writer. 
  • Alan Babbitt, sports information director, was a contributing writer and photographer.
  • Paul Willard, graphic designer, designed the program layout and provided illustrations.

Other contributors to the program were: Rebecca Robrahn, director of creative services, who oversaw the design process to completion; writer and photographer Tom Renner, retired associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope College; writer Jeff Febus, Calvin’s sports information coordinator; writers Dr. Chad Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology at Hope, and Dr. Brian Bolt, professor of kinesiology at Calvin; and freelance photographers Steven Herppich, Jon Lundstrom, Rob Kurtycz and Dan Vos.

I am so proud to work with such a creative, talented colleagues. Congratulations to everyone who helped earn this well-deserved victory!   Hope and Calvin have been playing each other in men’s basketball since 1920. After 201 games, the two teams are separated by just five wins and 98 points. Check out the 2019-20 Rivalry schedule!