Penn State

Digital storybook spreads Penn State message

Penn State’s new digital storybook campaign shares stories of eight extraordiary people and projects at
Penn State’s new digital storybook campaign shares stories of eight extraordiary people and projects at Photo provided

Once upon a time, in a Happy Valley, there was a magical kingdom called Penn State where people learned to do amazing things.

This might be the first page of the digital storybook that the university is inviting people to explore online.

The website,, invites visitors into the Nittany Lion world by sharing eight stories of special people and extraordinary projects.

There is Max Rohn, a veteran who lost a leg while deployed in Iraq and now participates in international competitions like the Invictus Games in London while studying engineering at University Park.

There are Lehigh Valley students traveling to Panama to help endangered sea turtles.

There are the windows at Penn State Hershey Medical Center that are cleaned by Captain America and Superman, the Smeal business students who are managing millions in real-world wealth through the Nittany Lion Fund, the way Penn State research is impacting the study of glaciers and honeybees. And that’s just the start.

“We wanted to continue to go down this road of telling the Penn State story with our branding initiative of the inspired doer, people who do the hard work that needs to be done,” said Clair Poletti, manager of the Penn State Film Office.

The stories are told in words, in pictures and in video, bringing the public into the events as they unfold. You are there as Rohn spins from the leg he was born with to the one he straps on while he hurls his discus. You are there as newly hatched sea turtles crawl toward the water with students looking on like proud parents. You are there as poverty-stricken children in India drink clean, safe water thanks to science and technology.

“The idea is to curate the Penn State story in one place,” Poletti said. “We want to look at it as it evolves, the living, breathing representation of us as Penn Staters.”

The page has been pushed heavily in advertising campaigns in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and other major markets, as well as through Facebook and Google Display. The idea is to contribute to the concept of “brand awareness.” Some of the videos were debuted for trustees at the outreach committee meeting in January.

Poletti said the concept has been very popular with President Eric Barron, who has been very clear about a desire for engaging visual products. In September, he unveiled the new promo of the Penn State spirit, embodied by the Nittany Lion shrine statue, detaching from its base and running free.

“He definitely wants creative and compelling content,” Poletti said.

So far, the response has been good.

“It’s exciting to see. People have really been responding to the compelling visuals,” Poletti said.

But it isn’t just the public that appreciates the production.

These are a joy to work on. It’s exciting to see the range and the breadth. It’s so nice to have an opportunity to share something that lets people have an emotional connection with Penn State,” Poletti said.