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Build a Controlled Vocabulary to Bust Organizational Silos


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Co-presenters: Courtney Reyers and Dina Lewis, CAE Associations create categories and buckets for most everything they do—from membership levels to conference tracks and more. Add in branded products, acronyms, and multiple departments, and the challenge of marketing to members and digital content consumers gets tougher. This interactive session examines how a scientific society used a collaborative approach to break through traditional silos and obtain buy-in from staff, subject matter experts, and members to create a controlled vocabulary that is the keystone for its digital content strategy.

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Build a Controlled Vocabulary to Bust Organizational Silos

  1. 1. Build a Controlled Vocabulary to Bust Organizational Silos Courtney Reyers, American Society for Microbiology Dina Lewis, CAE, Distilled Logic
  2. 2. Who We Are Let Me Guide U 2 the Purple Rain: Web Redesign = Change Management
  3. 3. Who We Are Courtney Dina • In-house content strategy, UX and user advocate • Music journalist→ print content manager→ web blower-upper • International house DJ for 10 years, rode 100 miles on a bike, just got engaged :D • UX and content strategy consultant • Journalism major→ association jack- of-all-trades→ entrepreneur • Played at Little League World Series Stadium, attended four World Cups/ Euro Cups, harvest my own veggies
  4. 4. Why We’re Here
  5. 5. What We’re Going to Do Deep Dive Workshop Agenda • Intros and overview of session 5 minutes • Case Study: Overview 10 minutes • Exercise: Debate controlled vocab & build a pitch 45 minutes • Case Study: Clincher or How ASM did it 10 minutes • Q & A: Pick our brains 20 minutes
  6. 6. ASM Case Study
  7. 7. ASM Case Study
  8. 8. ASM Case Study
  9. 9. Case Study Research • Stakeholder Interviews • Member and Staff Surveys Content Strategy • Statement • Philosophy/Culture Change Content Strategy • Personas • Content Audit • Taxonomy Review
  10. 10. ASM Case Study
  11. 11. ASM Case Study • Marketing Codes • Scientific Taxonomy • Tracks • Journals • Press • Divisions • Scientific Interest Areas
  12. 12. ASM Case Study: Vocabularies
  13. 13. Value of a Controlled Vocabulary
  14. 14. Workshop: Debate controlled vocabulary and create pitch
  15. 15. Workshop Instructions
  16. 16. Workshop Results: Share Group Feedback • What frameworks did you come up with? • What were some of the considerations (similarities, differences, cross-departmental mapping) that you discussed? • Describe the key messages or themes in your pitch. • What challenges do you see to adopting a controlled vocabulary: • What benefits?
  17. 17. This is Miguel Robe. He is searching for a microbiology meeting near him. He types “microbiology meeting” into Google. Miguel lands at He sees he can make the date and city and registers. When he registers, we ask him what some of his interests are, he checks off “Virology” and “Zika” and elects to receive content from us on these topics His interests correlate with content on the website, as well as interest fields in the AMS. We plan a Zika conference in 2018, which Miguel finds out about in a content email from ASM, which contains an ad based on his interest areas. ! How interesting...
  18. 18. Case Study: How ASM Did It • We had 2 years of user research and testing under our belts in terms of how people find content on our website • We had 5 keyword workshops in house, including scientific input from our SMEs/science Ph.D.s • The finalized streamlined “vocabulary” was validated with a card sort of ASM members • This vocabulary will be used on the new website and in the AMS
  19. 19. Streamlined Vocabulary • Current Terms are Too Broad and Redundant Example: “General Microbiology” was used as a Marketing Code and a Division • Terms Could be Streamlined in Some Areas Example: “Microbial Pathogenesis” in Divisions and “Pathogenesis” in Scientific Areas mean the same thing • Terms Can be Mapped Across Systems Example: Books, journals and education can be mapped to new controlled vocabulary categories.
  20. 20. Questions? Dina Lewis, CAE Courtney Reyers @courtneyreyers Complete ASAE Foundation content strategy survey: