Grinnell College’s publications office was in the midst of a major transition this past summer. The timing was challenging: one of their largest print publications, the annual Honor Roll of Giving, needed to stay on track for a fall mailing. In order to meet that deadline, the school needed someone who could manage a major portion of the project, deliver great writing about its generous alumni, and meet a tight deadline.
When Grinnell asked if I could take on the project, I immediately connected with other experienced higher education writers, researchers, and transcriptionists to help out. We laid out a detailed and ambitious plan that covered every piece of the project, with a color-coded spreadsheet that we updated daily.
Over the course of less than six weeks, we coordinated and conducted dozens of phone interviews. We collected high-resolution photos and transcribed many hours of recorded interviews — hundreds of pages.
Every Monday, we compiled and sent a high-level executive summary for Grinnell’s staff to reassure them that everything was on track, and to make sure we made any necessary course corrections earlier, rather than later. And together, the team wrote, edited, and fact-checked 36 distinct stories about giving at Grinnell, each with nuance and thoughtfulness.
Because the interviews were often with high-end donors, we also vetted every single story with the sources for their approval. And they were thrilled: a sampling of source comments included “Perfect!” “Terrific,” and “Don’t change a word.”
Thanks to the disciplined work from everyone on the team, the completed and vetted stories, complete with photos, headlines, pull quotes, and contact information, were submitted before the client’s deadline, and the Honor Roll arrived in alumni mailboxes in November.