Visuals For BYUI Admissions – Josh Hadden

Strategic Organizational Communication

Every year, the BYU-Idaho admissions office connects with students and tries to help them understand the legacy of BYU-Idaho. The university is always seeking to increase enrollment and the Admissions office works hard to show people the great success they can find here at BYU-Idaho.

As part of these ongoing efforts to get people to come and see BYU-Idaho, the University offers campus tours and recently built the new Welcome Center located in the MC. The Welcome Center is where all tours start and is the area where we host the guests of BYU-Idaho. As people often travel far to see the campus, they may arrive earlier than their scheduled tour or need to wait some time before the next tour begins. For this reason, the Welcome Center has comfortable waiting rooms, equipped with large screens so that people can have something enjoyable to see while they wait. When the Welcome Center was finished, someone just threw together a little slideshow of old campus photos that looped through on the screens. In time, the Admissions office came to realize that new screen media would be needed.

The new Welcome Center in the Manwaring Center.

It was about this time that I approached one of my supervisors in the office and asked if there were any communications based projects that the office needed done, as I was seeking to complete a Senior Project. My supervisor let me know that they needed updated screen media for the Welcome Center. She also gave me the initiative to start working on an updated viewbook that’s given to thousands of prospective BYUI students each year.

As a communications enthusiast, I was eager to start on these projects. My emphasis in school has been in Strategic Organization with a module in Public Relations, and I could see clearly how these 2 projects fit the bill. Though they were heavier on the visual side, I know that good visuals are key to good organizational communications and telling your story to the public. I understand just as well as anyone that perception is reality and that if we want people to love BYU-Idaho, we have to show them what BYU-Idaho has to offer. These 2 communications projects have been a great way to highlight the school and to showcase my abilities as a communicator.

I dove into the projects right away. In my previous semester, I had completed a practicum project in the office by designing 10 BYUI Admissions postcards to be sent our to prospective students. Through that process, I had selected just a handful of images from the BYUI photo library, but for this project, I would need much more. My initiative with the screen media was to bring life, excitement, action, and color to the screens in telling people the story of BYU-Idaho. I realized that the screen media we displayed could help visitors see a wider range of BYU-Idaho than what we could offer on just our hour long campus tours. The screen media is an opportunity to help people see the seasons, activities, opportunities, and triumphs of BYU-Idaho. I started compiling a collection of beautiful campus shots, campus activities photos, and even campus videos.

BYUI Visual Arts Studio

I had no idea when I started, but I quickly realized just how vast the BYUI photo library is. From every semester, there are thousands of photos. Overall, just searching through the photos library consumed 12 hours of my time while working on this project.

As I compiled photos, I regularly edited them, resized them, and uploaded them into the Reach system that BYUI uses to broadcast screen media on campus. We realized that a flaw of many of the current photos being used was that they were incorrectly sized and looked tacky. It was important that every photo we used was fit perfectly to the screen in a 16:9 ratio. Then, the images were ready to be uploaded into Reach. Reach was a new system for me so in the beginning it took some figuring out on my part, but now I can confidently manage screen media through their interface. The system is a little slow too, so it took a significant portion of my time to get all of the media uploaded and then sorted correctly into the different playlists that correlate with each screen in the Welcome Center. I also had to spend a considerable amount of time deleting old media from the playlists and watching the screens in the Welcome Center to make sure each image displayed just right. Overall I spent 4 hours editing photos, and then 11 hours working within Reach to correctly upload, select, and establish sequence for the screen media.

BYUI students and Rexburg community members participate in the color fun run during the fall 2021 seemster.

In addition the the 61 photos I used in the final draft of screen media, I incorporated 4 (already existing) campus videos and 12 animated text graphics that I created. Adding the videos and graphics really helped to break up the monotony of the still photos and bring life to the screens. Overall, I spent 5 hours previewing and uploading video for the screens and then 8 hours designing and uploading my text graphics for the screen media. Adding in some time for meetings with my mentos and supervisor for this project, I spent about 39 hours total working on the screen media for this project.

Animated Text Graphic

At the same time that I was developing screen media for the Welcome Center, I was also working to update the Admissions office viewbook that goes out to prospective students. The viewbook is 30 pages full of images, information, and student highlights all aimed at helping people understand what BYU-Idaho is and how to apply. It contains data, visuals and connections to resources graphics to help students understand tuition, our 3 track system, degrees offered here, and more.

Ultimately, the viewbook gets created by University relations, but I compiled a lot of the information and updates we wanted to make. The biggest part of this job for me was contacting students for student highlight pages. We wanted to be very intentional with the students we selected. There are 5 student highlight pages in total, so I set out to collect the data we needed to make our selection.

I started in the Advising Center where I asked some employees which of the majors or degrees should be highlighted, whether it was because they were so popular, so unique, or so overlooked. Together we created a list of 10 potential majors to highlight and then I set out to contact all 10 of their departments and ask for their “poster children” who might photograph well and be a good representative of the school. This part of the process took longer than expected as far as meeting with professors and working through difficult schedules to get suggestions for students. I tried my best to collect 2-3 names from each department just in case some students declined or were unavailable.

Once I had compiled student recommendations from each department, I had to spend some time looking up each student in the school database and compiling their contact information and I-numbers. Once that list was complete, we had to get each name approved through the honor office. Then, I began contacting the students. At first, I sent an email to preface what we were asking for, and then I followed up with a phone call and a text message. After a bit of chasing down, I eventually got 10 yeses from students and we chose a final 5 to photograph for the book. That’s the phase we are currently in with University Relations, as we are waiting for them to begin scheduling shoots for the students. With all of the time I spent meeting with different departments, compiling lists, suggesting book edits, and contacting students it came to be about 13 hours. It was surprising to me how much of my time got eaten up on this aspect of the project just in chasing down people and following up to get the recommendations and approvals that I needed, but I’m excited to continue working on this project and working towards the final deliverable we should have completed in July. It’s a bit discouraging to not have a deliverable ready to show for this project right now, but I will continue to work on it and come July, it’ll be a great portfolio piece as well as a great resource for the Admissions office and prospective students.

Though the prospective student viewbook is not yet deliverable, you can see my full compilation of screen media by following this link.

Overall, I am so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had grow and develop here at BYU-Idaho. This senior Project was a challenging but rewarding way for me to put my skills to work and accomplish something. I am grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend bettering myself and for the opportunities that have been afforded to me. If you’d like to connect with me further, you can find me on LinkedIn or see my website.