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Tori Klassen, BCcampus' director of communications; at the 4th Annual Social Media Camp; Victoria BC May 7, 2013.
At the beginning of 2012, as Acting Director, with the help of my newly-hired web designer and other colleagues, I cleaned up the corporate web site. There were no fewer than TWELVE content areas on the front page that needed fresh content in order not to look outdated. It was unwieldy.
In its new iteration, we simplified. We made the blog the focus of fresh content for the corporate site and moved it up "above the fold."
But I wasn't done yet.
I looked at web sites similar to ours. I read Christina Halvorsen's book. I went to a couple of workshops on content management.
I looked at the results of our past stakeholder surveys and read what our target audience was saying.
I also realized talking about yourself all the time just doesn't cut it anymore.
What BCcampus does for the post-secondary system is in the background. We're the plumbing, our stakeholders (25 public institutions in BC) are the shiny fixtures. They're what everyone sees and uses, we just provide support to make it all work better.
Writers: I realized I did have a budget for some writing services and I knew there were a lot of independent pros who know what they're doing around blog and web copy.
I have also hired bWest Interactive to help with strategy. They had been doing our newsletter for a year or so - but I wanted to deply those resources to better pick apart Chris's brain. I brought the newsletter distribution in-house (co-op student) and Chris is now helping with social media and SEO strategies to take full advantage of our communications planning.
The Letting Go
I was afraid that someone from "outside" post-secondary education wouldn't know the issues enough to write intelligently about them. I was wrong.
Here is the first thing we found: no OER.
BCcampus is seen as a world innovator in the promotion and creation of OER. So, we included a task on our user testing to look for information on OER. Our testers couldn't find it! It seems obvious now; we fixed that issue right away.
1. Write the way we speak, translate academic terms into plain language: a style guide posted online for all writers.
2. Each blog post between 300 – 800 words max.
3. Each blog post submitted with a Creative Commons image, suggested Tweet and Facebook post.
4. Each post submitted two days before ‘go live’ date.
5. Use lots of subheads, bullet points, hyperlinks.
6. We understand people are in a hurry and strive to delight, entertain and inform.
7. Publish twice a week (need to be flexible)
8. Newsletter published 2x/month
9. Writers need to do their research and narrow down a broad topic. Subject matter experts available within BCcampus as a resource, often involved in earlier drafts for accuracy.
10. Allocate about 4 hours to research, write, edit, submit a post.
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.