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“If they would just listen to us...”: Turning Internal Client Relationships into Collaborations

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You’re smart. (You do work in higher ed, after all.) You know your stuff. You have ideas. New ideas. Good ideas. And yet—your clients (internal or external) don’t want your ideas. Or your style guide. They know what they want: the same thing they’ve been doing for the last ten years. Why won’t they just listen to you?

The answer is finding ways to turn to client relationships into real collaborations. When we move from a conformance mindset to a collaboration mindset, we can find ourselves in the position to do our best work—work our clients will love.

What you’ll learn:

• How to move from a conformance to a collaboration mindset.
• Using workshop techniques (like job stories, pair writing, mad libs, and more) in meeting settings.
• How to uncover the real problems your clients are facing, and solve them—together.

Published in: Marketing
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“If they would just listen to us...”: Turning Internal Client Relationships into Collaborations

  1. 1. “If they would just listen to us...” Turning Internal Client Relationships into Collaborations Mike Powers • #heweb18 • #mpd8
  2. 2. Mike Powers
 Executive Director of Marketing and Communications
 Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  3. 3. Indiana, where?!
  4. 4. You are here I live here
  5. 5. Here Not here
  6. 6. Thanks, Stephen App!
  7. 7. Clients?
  8. 8. THE PHONE CALL 
 A Play in One Act HIGH ED WEB
  9. 9. 8:30 a.m. A busy university communications office. A Web Person wearing headphones works at a computer. The phone rings. Web Person finds the phone under a pile of papers and answers it.
  10. 10. I have sent you a picture of two of my favorite students under a tree. Please place this image on my department’s home page forthwith.
  11. 11. Actually, we’ve designed that page to show off your great placement rate. That’s why we’ve got a recent alumna working at a Fortune 500 company in the hero image.
  12. 12. This new image is pretty generic, though. It doesn’t show off what’s special about your department. But she was a terrible student! These are good students. Put them on the home page please. These are NOT generic students! One of them won a Fulbright!
  13. 13. I didn’t say the students were generic, it’s just that your messag— I ASKED YOU TO PUT IT ON THE HOME PAGE. I ALREADY TOLD THEM THEY’D BE ON THE HOME PAGE. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST HANDLE A SIMPLE REQUEST?
  14. 14. What just happened?
  15. 15. Just who do we think we are, anyway?
  16. 16. Who the faculty think we are Who we think we are Who the staff think we are Who we really are
  17. 17. Who should we be?
  18. 18. Counselors?
  19. 19. Coaches?
  20. 20. Partners?
  21. 21. Collaborators
  22. 22. Collaboration before conformance
  23. 23. Collaboration does not mean “no conflict”
  24. 24. Why we fight Pressure on us • Show results • Manage 1,000s of pages • SEO, accessibility, content, etc. • Help find students, donations, etc. Pressure on them • Teach • Research • Get tenure • Attract students to program
  25. 25. Your role: provide the structure to make conflict productive
  26. 26. Guidelines for collaboration 1. Know who the final decision maker is 2. Find the real problem 3. Manage conflict 4. Be authentic 5. Embrace the theater
  27. 27. Know who the final decision maker is Guideline 1 (then get them to a meeting)
  28. 28. “Don’t call it a meeting. Sometimes, a word like workshop does the job, but it is overused and can mean different things to different people… you call it a decision-making session.”
  29. 29. TECHNIQUE Set project goals (together)
  30. 30. Setting project goals together 1. Based on what you know, try writing down what you think their goals are 2. Print out copies with a big DRAFT watermark on them 3. At the meeting: present your draft goals, then listen and revise 4. Follow up with the now FINAL goals
  31. 31. Possible outcomes You got the goals exactly right You were partially correct Abject failure to predict client’s goals Yay, you! (But this never happens. Are you sure you got them right?) Cool. You’ve learned something and the client learned something. Rough. But it’s better to know this now rather than later.
  32. 32. Find the real problem Guideline 2
  33. 33. Department of Various Things
  34. 34. i
  35. 35. Depar tment of Various Things
  36. 36. Gill Sans Ultra Bold Gill Sans Light
  37. 37. Translating asks What they say What’s behind it “It needs to work for Gen Z” Maybe my users aren’t just like me. “It needs to be a video. Kids don’t read.” Let’s choose formats based on user preferences and needs. “I just got a big grant and I need a website.” I’d like to help promote the university’s research mision.
  38. 38. Nobody wants a website
  39. 39. TECHNIQUE Co-design a top-task survey
  40. 40. What’s a top-task survey? • Create a list of 40–50 tasks that users might do on your site • Intercept users to your site • Have them pick their top three tasks from the list • Make sure your site design optimizes for those tasks
  41. 41. Co-designing a top task survey • Brainstorm tasks with client. • Run the survey • Reconvene to share results
  42. 42. Top Tasks: A How-to Guide Gerry McGovern
  43. 43. Manage conflict Guideline 3
  44. 44. TECHNIQUE User stories and job stories
  45. 45. User Story • As a [person in a particular role] • I want to [perform an action or find something out] • So that [I can achieve my goal of …] • Acceptance criterion: [when work on this user story is done.] • When [there’s a particular situation] • I want to [perform an action or find something out] • So that [I can achieve my goal of …] • Acceptance criterion: [when work on this job story is done.] Job Story
  46. 46. Sample Job Story • When I’m researching MBA programs • I want to know how it will impact my life—location, commute time, class formats— • So that I can know if I can do this program successfully. • Acceptance Criterion: This story is done when I know what the schedule is, where I’ll take classes, and how much out-of-class work I’ll need to do.
  47. 47. Co-authoring user or job stories • Research your users • Use a meeting room with a screen. Project a Word doc with the “As a,” “I want to,” “So that” prompts. • Work through tasks together. • Bring in your research as needed to make sure stories are grounded in reality
  48. 48. Content Design Sarah Richards
  49. 49. TECHNIQUE Content strategy mad libs
  50. 50. Thing we’re going to make helps organization accomplish business goal and business goal by providing descriptive word or phrase and descriptive word or phrase content that makes audience feel emotion or adjective or emotion or adjective so that they can user task or user task.
  51. 51. Our website helps the Department of Miscellanea accomplish the recruitment of high-achieving and out-of-state students by providing descriptive word or phrase and descriptive word or phrase content that makes out-of-state students feel confident or inspired so that they can choose a college that meets their needs or budget.
  52. 52. Content strategy mad libs • Reproduce a mad libs handout • Each person in the meeting fills out on their own • Discuss • Get to a final version
  53. 53. Content strategy mad libs • Reproduce a mad libs handout • Each person in the meeting fills out on their own • Discuss • Get to a final version
  54. 54. “Content Mad Libs” Sara Wachter-Boettcher http://www.content-workshops.com/toolbox/ 2015/3/content-mad-libs
  55. 55. The Content Strategy Toolkit Meghan Casey
  56. 56. Be authentic Guideline 4
  57. 57. Take what your collaborators say seriously
  58. 58. TECHNIQUE Pair writing
  59. 59. What’s pair writing? • Choose a small piece of content to work on • Set a time limit (one hour) • One person types, the other asks questions • Then switch roles frequently so you each write about half of the time • When time’s up, set a next step
  60. 60. Pair writing can save time
  61. 61. Pair writing helps with ownership issues
  62. 62. “Use pair writing to collaborate with subject matter experts” Jonathan Kahn gathercontent.com/blog/use-pair-writing-to- collaborate-with-subject-matter-experts
  63. 63. Embrace the theater Guideline 5
  64. 64. TECHNIQUE BrandSort
  65. 65. How it works • Participants sort adjectives into 1. Who we are 2. Who we aren’t 3. Who we’d like to be • Then group terms from the first two groups to come up with key brand terms
  66. 66. BrandSort Margot Bloomstein cards.appropriateinc.com
  67. 67. Content Strategy at Work Margot Bloomstein
  68. 68. TECHNIQUE Co-operative competitive analysis
  69. 69. —Your Dean “I was looking at the site for University of Upper Miscellanea. I like their site better than ours. Make our site just like theirs.”
  70. 70. Make your competitive analysis cooperative Job story 1 Job story 2 Brand attribute 1 School 1 School 2 School 3
  71. 71. How to do it • Do this as a mini-workshop with your internal clients • Invite them to bring 2 or 3 sites they like • Have the client demonstrate the site on the screen • Work together to fill in the matrix
  72. 72. THE PHONE CALL 
 A Play in One Act HIGH ED WEB Conclusion: Rewriting the script
  73. 73. Start now
  74. 74. Think of 3 people on your campus who might make that phone call
  75. 75. Make a call, send an email, have lunch
  76. 76. Questions? Turning Internal Client Relationships into Collaborations Mike Powers • @mjpowers • #heweb18 • #mpd8
  77. 77. Photo credits Slide 1 & 81: Toms Baugis, 
 https://flic.kr/p/9DPH1i Slide 8: Matt Reinbold, 
 https://flic.kr/p/2zs5Ji Slide 9: Image Library, 
 https://flic.kr/p/A8VXZY Slide 16: http://bit.ly/2OccwcZ; 
 http://bit.ly/2SswaVn; Shutterstock Slide 24: bark, https://flic.kr/p/8UuR2R Slide 27: Fried & Hansson, Rework, “Meetings Are Toxic” Slide 58: Alan Cleaver, 
 https://flic.kr/p/a2niNr Slide 61: isolationism, 
 https://flic.kr/p/7DMb4J

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