UW ExPH Strategy


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UW ExPH Strategy

  1. 1. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) Final Strategy Proposal Description: The Extended Master in Public Health Degree Program (EXDP) is a graduate program within the University of Washington’s School of Public Health. EXDP is designed for mid-career public and community health professionals. It offers a combination of distance learning and onsite courses. Students are onsite at UW for three intensive summer sessions and four weekend seminars. The UW is one of the nation’s top schools for public health (ranking fourth overall and second among publicly funded schools). Client Contacts: Cindy Watts, Ph.D., professor, watts@u.washington.edu Gail Greenwood, associate director, gail1@u.washington.edu Current client URL: http://depts.washington.edu/hsedp Current Communication Methods: Dr. Watts says the school is socially progressive but technologically limited. The profession of public health, by nature, doesn’t embrace new technologies, primarily due to limited resources. Currently, communication methods within the program are:  An email listserve is used to send out announcements regarding jobs, training opportunities, seminars, and a “social justice/inequality digest” to students and alumni.  The department uses snail mail to send extensive quarterly print newsletters to students and alumni. EXDP also sends fliers and brochures, encouraging alumni to share and post the information at their job sites. The department includes in the mailing a cohort-specific news page for a personalized approach.  The EXDP website is static. The only frequently updated content is the news section. The ‘Alumni Profile’ section contains very lengthy essays. A simultaneous redesign has been started on the site that is not a reflection of this proposal.  The program has set up a blog, Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. However, none of these platforms is being actively utilized. The content on the Facebook page and the blog continues to broadcast a “one-to-many” attitude and is not engaging enough to draw comments or start conversations. Main Goals for Social Media Strategy: EXDP administrators are keen on increasing interactions among the school, current students and alumni. Using social media, they want to:  Engage with current students by providing them with orientation info regarding the program and the process of registering for a thesis; by enabling networking among students; and by providing opportunities to network with alumni. Currently, faculty-student interaction regarding specific courses is handled through Moodle, which they wish to 1 of 6
  2. 2. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) keep as is.  Engage with alumni by serving as a useful resource and sending announcements regarding current research projects and new developments in the program. Dr. Watts said, “We want [alumni] to think about us when they want to hire someone, when they are looking for some project to be done.”  Connect students directly with alumni for mentorship, job opportunities, best practices, etc. They want alumni to be aware of student achievements.  Raise awareness about EXDP within the broader public health community. Challenges: As Dr. Watts explained, the field is under-funded, and public health officials are used to working with limited resources. Many are not savvy about social media – or technology in general. The main challenges we face in this project include:  A social media strategy must essentially build an active community from scratch. The first challenge is to get EXDP faculty, students and alumni onto social media spaces and get them aware of one another there. From there, Dr. Watts describes public health practitioners as having a bit of an inferiority complex, so the next challenge is to build an esprit de corps and a motivation to share their stories.  A social media strategy requires creating new habits. Students and alumni are used to getting lengthy newsletters, announcements, fliers and brochures. It would not be surprising if much of this communication gets lost in a “read-it-later” pile. We need to make the barrier to entry as low as possible and show them how these tools can provide interactive communication that has immediacy and value in their daily lives (http://mashable.com/2009/07/23/alumni-social-media).  We need to show them how to tell their stories. We’ll coach EXDP administrators and faculty to make their content more engaging. In today’s culture, there is little time to read wordy newsletters or long cut-and-paste articles. They need to learn to create engaging, relevant, medium-appropriate content.  Our greatest challenge, or benefit, comes from the level of technology experience of EXDP community members. We created a short Web-based survey (available here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FQ8BPV5) to determine how many members have used social media platforms previously and for what purposes. We found that the highest percentage of respondents are not actively engaged with or aware of social media. Identification of “Lead Users”: While the results of the survey were generally not in our favor, it did help us identify some important, potential “lead users.” These are individuals in the program who are familiar with social media tools and willing to start and continue online conversation. Their participation could encourage others, who would normally be less inclined, to join in the online activities. 2 of 6
  3. 3. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) TOOLS AND STRATEGY Based on survey results and client discovery, we have created a preliminary list of social media tools for EXDP. We believe EXDP should start gradually, placing a premium on tools that enable students and alumni to submit content and engage in online conversations easily. First step: Unify  Improved URL: We recommend EXDP adopt exdp.washington.edu as their new home. Their current URL is too long, difficult to remember, and lacks consistency throughout the site. Some content is shared among varieties of sites (some links direct you to the Department of Health Services, some to the School of Public Health); everything should be accessible from one site.  Brand definition: EXDP could benefit from a stronger brand. This may require modifying the program acronyms and logo, which currently do not specifically refer to Public Health. This will require further conversation about brand values and definition. How does EXDP want to be seen?  Preliminary List of Social Media Tools: Tool Purpose UW EXDP Website Central hub of all communication; main entry point, with links to other methods of communication for EXDP, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter feed/page and program hashtag. The landing page is intended to convert interest into action. Here’s a good example of what we’re going for: http://poweredbyorange.com. LinkedIn (setup but Professional referrals and awareness outreach to others in the not being used) profession, Alumni connections. Facebook (set up Program marketing, awareness and viral engagement. Invite the entire but not being used) EXDP community to join the page. Post short announcements, events, open-ended questions, and requests for suggestions. Twitter Encouraged from the start as a classroom back channel and for further listening and announcing outside of class. Blog (setup but not Post short first-person essays and article links. Encourage posts and being used properly) comments (some professors could require students to comment for participation). Create helpful hints for posting. YouTube Advice on job search to students, showcase industry best practices, alumni profiles, incoming student info. Allows for editing and associated forums for FAQs and ongoing Q&A provided by all members of the community. This may be limited by their ability to garner recording and editing software and labor. This may be a next-phase project. Widgets Pulls relevant content from the Website into other social media communications, to integrate our messages. 3 of 6
  4. 4. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) A new approach to content production: “Publication is not an end but a beginning - an invitation to respond.” Paul Gillin believes the biggest benefit to publishing content online is the elimination of time-sensitivity and relevance. The information in a paper newsletter reaches the end of its life cycle once it gets to your door; hopefully it is read, but likely it is discarded and the ability for the content spread dies. When information is published online, it remains available permanently and it becomes available to those other than your subscribers. We recommend EXDP: • Announce information as it happens as opposed to in a once a quarter newsletter. • Publish shorter content, on multiple channels to reach wider audiences. Website design: This is just an example of what we would like to see the EXDP website look like. Social media tools are placed prominently on front, allowing users to connect to EXDP easily. The tone of the page is welcoming and friendly even in a place of academia. We want to do more than provide information – we want to build and harvest a community. 4 of 6
  5. 5. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) How to get EXDP into the social media community: • Like every good marketing strategy, everything springs from your brand. As you embark on a social media strategy, make sure your messages, tone and personality reflect your brand. • Primary focus should be on website and making it “social media ready” – search engine optimization will help make the website easier to find and show up higher in the search engine listings. Currently, the EXDP site cannot be found in Google search for “public health school” or “uw public health” or “master in public health.” We also recommend you place a link to your site on the UW School of Public Health home page and possibly the King County Public Health website. • For many EXDP staff, students and alumni, social media is still brand new. Start experimenting with the tools now, so you will be an informative resource for other students and faculty who struggle with the tools. • Faculty and staff should take lead in posting and commenting on the blog and other platforms – then offer incentives for similar engagement to students: “users innovate when they have incentives to do so.” (Von Hippel 2005) Make these tools part of your curriculum and offer incentive and recognition for those who go above and beyond. • Begin building a social media content calendar and include engaging content from staff, alumni students and public health experts. • Join a bookmarking site, like delicious, and begin bookmarking items of interest that you’d like to share with your “community.” You can repost these to Facebook and Twitter. • Re-name the EXDP Facebook page so it is easy to find and recognize. • Discuss blog, Facebook, Twitter content in class. It is a great way to pull real-life, current issues into the classroom. Measuring success: According to Gillin, it can take up to 2 years before for a social media strategy to take off. Patience and continued effort (although sometimes daunting) will produce a successful campaign. Success indicators: • Continuous activity: there will be lulls and off-times (think finals week, summer vacation, and in between big news events) but successful campaigns consistently have new content being published and contributed. • 80% of the content is created by users: as the community develops and becomes more involved, they will produce the majority of the content. • Outsiders linking to EXDP sites: if others are linking to EXDP sites that means they find the content valuable, which raises profile creditability. • New partnerships: social media has the potential to create powerful new symbiotic relationships. • Increased program awareness/enrollment. At this point, a successful campaign may take on a viral nature. You are encouraged to continue 5 of 6
  6. 6. Jen Huss COM 581 – Winter 2010 UW School of Public Health - Extended MPH Degree Program (EXDP) participating in the community, but its existence no longer relies on your support. Congratulations! 6 of 6