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Know thyself: Your school's message-driven content strategy

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Before you can determine content types and prioritize channels, consider the roots of communication--and education. Start at home. Start in Delphi, in ancient Greece. You'll find instructions key to learning, communication, and brand-driven content strategy: know thyself. What does that mean in higher ed? Consider your communication goals and hierarchy of brand attributes. We'll discuss how they drive style and tone, content types, and the look and feel of your content—and how a message architecture helps ensure your audit is more meaningful and content is more consistent.

Presented at Confab Higher Ed, #ConfabEDU, November 12, 2013, in Atlanta.

Published in: Technology, News & Politics

Know thyself: Your school's message-driven content strategy

  1. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 1 © 2013© 2013 Margot Bloomstein Confab EDU November 12, 2013 @mbloomstein #ConfabEDU KNOW THYSELF: YOUR SCHOOL’S MESSAGE-DRIVEN CONTENT STRATEGY
  2. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 2 © 2013 COMMUNICATION 101
  3. Democratized communication is an opportunity. But tools merely empower a message.
  4. Sorry, Marshall McLuhan. Medium transmits message—but demands it, too.
  5. Our brand is a promise. How can we ensure our news lives up to it? Georgy Cohen (@radiofreegeorgy)
  6. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 6 © 2013 CC Sam Korn, via Wikipedia Gnothi sauton
  7. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 7 © 2013 Know thyself. We invest in knowing our users, but how well do we know our own brands?
  8. If you don’t know what you need to communicate, how will you know if you succeed? How do you know where to put resources, time, and talent?
  9. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 9 © 2013 First things first. blog, audit the content, consolidate site architecture, add video testimonials, add student reviews, develop new brand guidelines, switch to a new CMS, or go “mobile first”…
  10. Tools enable how we conceive ideas, perceive our world, and see ourselves
  11. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 11 © 2013
  12. You cannot not communicate. Paul Watzlawick
  13. OH SNAP!
  14. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 14 © 2013 What is content strategy? Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, and appropriate content in an experience.
  15. Why content strategy?
  16. Why content strategy? Because we all want the same things, but content keeps getting in the way.
  17. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 17 © 2013 Content demands attention
  18. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 18 © 2013 Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way. (CC) http://www.flickr.com/photos/slworking Content requires time
  19. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 19 © 2013 Content dredges up politics
  20. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 20 © 2013
  21. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 21 © 2013
  22. This is your job now.
  23. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 23 © 2013 ©Skillset.org
  24. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 24 © 2013 Titles < Roles < Skills
  25. © The Creative Group
  26. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 27 © 2013 Steps along the way… Message architecture Content audit/inventory Prescriptive content matrix Content model Editorial style guidelines Metadata guidelines Governance guidelines
  27. Deliverables are merely punctuation in the conversation. Don’t let them replace the conversation.
  28. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 29 © 2013 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary. Concrete, shared terminology, not abstract concepts.
  29. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 30 © 2013
  30. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 31 © 2013 Elevating the distinct and whole person • Appreciative of the journey, supportive Rigorous, passionate, intense • Practical; research & problem-solving Welcoming • Approachable, accessible; inclusive, not entitled • Fair and egalitarian Engaged • Progressive • Community-minded
  31. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 32 © 2013
  32. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 33 © 2013 Message architecture Relevant insider • Smart stuff you’d never hear otherwise • Specific details—not just general history Accurate yet accessible • Informal, casual voice • Credible facts Unexpectedly fun • Offbeat and quirky takes on history
  33. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 34 © 2013 A little thing with big impact.
  34. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 35 © 2013
  35. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 36 © 2013 Message architecture drives platform selection, tone, and content types
  36. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 37 © 2013 • Quick tips • Local/location-based • Checkins • Themed • Deals and badges • Robust user community • Quick tips • Local/location-based • Checkins • Themed • Deals and badges • Robust user community
  37. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 38 © 2013 Explore the world around you and learn interesting things. Find great local businesses with the help of real people.
  38. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 39 © 2013 Message architecture drives editorial content choices too: • Style • Tone • Diction • Sentence structure • Calls to action
  39. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 40 © 2013
  40. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 41 © 2013
  41. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 42 © 2013 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
  42. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 43 © 2013 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
  43. Welcoming, but elite. Selective?
  44. Accessible, open, and premiere.
  45. Traditional, but with an edge.
  46. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 47 © 2013
  47. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 48 © 2013 Words are valuable, but meaningless without context and priority.
  48. Do I contradict myself? Very well. Then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
  49. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 50 © 2013
  50. Words are cheaper than comps.
  51. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 52 © 2013 “Is this what you meant?” vs. “Is this what we need to communicate?”
  52. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 53 © 2013 Why do this? Let creative colleagues refine the concept, rather than confirm the purpose.
  53. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 54 © 2013 How? • Engage in a tangible, hands-on way • Encourage debate and conversation • Identify points of disagreement • Prevent seagulling • Force prioritization • Encourage ownership & investment
  54. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 55 © 2013
  55. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 56 © 2013 Why do this? Promote new content types to manifest the message architecture—not just because they’re trendy or feasible.
  56. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 57 © 2013 Why do this? Gain standards by which to conduct a qualitative audit. (What is “good” anyway?)
  57. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 58 © 2013© Lucas Films
  58. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 59 © 2013© New Line Cinema
  59. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 60 © 2013http://nataliaantonova.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/yellow-brick-road-into-mordor.jpg
  60. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 61 © 2013 The organization Established and premiere • Founded in 1896 • International reputation for depth in several areas • Not really a “destination” for tourists—but definitely for academics and researchers Trusted • Known for research among competitors, but not local audience • Target audience is loyal, but places greater appreciation in its tradition and history than modern updates Kid-friendly • Seen as ideal for family visits, school field trips, but relatively unknown for adult applicability within the local target audience
  61. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 62 © 2013 Message architecture Engaged and curious • Creating knowledge by supporting rigorous scientific research and disseminating information • Driving the public discussion to promote stewardship • Comprehensive in questions, open-minded in answers Welcoming • Accessible “for ages 5 – 95” • Relevant, tailored Applicable and relevant • Practical; engaged & empathizing with the community • Immediate, cutting-edge, and “in touch” Innovative • Ends > means in research, development, and engagement
  62. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 63 © 2013
  63. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 64 © 2013Engaged & curious? Welcoming? Applicable & relevant? Innovative?
  64. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 65 © 2013Engaged & curious? Welcoming? Applicable & relevant? Innovative?
  65. Audit to understand what you have and what you need. Before you can start, know why. What are you trying to learn about your content—and your school?
  66. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 67 © 2013
  67. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 68 © 2013
  68. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 69 © 2013
  69. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 70 © 2013 Auditing within constraints • Choose strategic samples • Variety of content types or elements • Representative of the rest of the site • Core sample a section or subsection (e.g., an upcoming event series or permanent exhibit) • Limit depth (e.g., just the top four levels)
  70. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 71 © 2013 What will you learn? • What do we have? • What are the patterns, elements, & types? • Is it any good? • What do we need to update? • What do we need to “translate” for tone or audience? • Where do we need more?
  71. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 72 © 2013 Where can you go? • Apply a rubric to existing content, separate from politics and history • Prescribe new content—and reallocate budget and resources—to address specific communication goals • Promote a new editorial calendar • Consider CMS modifications to support new content types
  72. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 73 © 2013 Steps along the way… Message architecture Content audit/inventory Prescriptive content matrix Content model Editorial style guidelines Metadata guidelines Governance guidelines
  73. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 74 © 2013 But first things first: Know thyself. What are you trying to communicate?
  74. @mbloomstein | #ConfabEDU 75 © 2013 Thank you! Margot Bloomstein @mbloomstein margot@appropriateinc.com slideshare.net/mbloomstein amzn.to/CSatWork All photography © Margot Bloomstein unless otherwise noted. Screen grabs property of their respective owners at time of capture.

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