The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at http://2011.highedweb.org/presentations/TNT3.mp3
is one in a series of podcasts from the HighEdWeb
Conference in Austin 2011.
Again, if you're tweeting about this session, please use the hashtag #tnt3 in your tweet so that we can all see what people are saying, and hopefully I can go back later and answer any questions that come up in Twitter as well.
This presentation is called "Carrying the Banner", a little bit inspired by "Newsies", one of my favorite guilty pleasures, whoo, yeah, "Newsies", one of my favorite movies, musicals, what not.
The reason I've picked "Newsies" to sort of represent this presentation is because the Newsies were scrappy and determined to change the way that their news system worked, the way that they worked in news, and I feel that if you're here, you're probably that way, too. We're in higher ed. We don't have buckets and buckets of resources to work with, but we are scrappy, determined and resourceful, and when you have those things and that determination and that goal to change the way things are, you can get a lot done.
A little bit about who I am. I work at Tufts University.
I am the Manager of Web Content and Strategy there. I've
been at Tufts since 2004 working on a whole host of
content initiatives from social media, web content,
multimedia. If it's content-related, I probably broke it
at one point.
I am also the cofounder of Meet Content, which...who
knows Meet Content out there? Yeah. Meet Content is a blog
I cofounded with this guy here, Rick Allen. We focus on
how to create and sustain web content in higher ed,
basically how to make it better. We're @meetcontent on
Twitter. Meetcontent.com, check us out. I have some pins
to give away later if you're interested, give it away to
some questioners, really anyone who wants a pin can get
one. So please check us out.
So why am I here?
In February 2011 at Tufts, we launched a website called
Tufts Now. We launched it after more than a year of
planning as an integrated news and events hub for the
This is just a little bit of a look at Tufts Now. You can
also go to now.tufts.edu if you want to check it out on
your laptop, if you have a laptop. You can see some of the
features we have here, stories, "Featured Events", news
clips, "Featured Blog", "Most Popular"
emailed/recommended, big feature story there, and items we
have up in our navigation.
Why exactly did we decide to embark on the Tufts Now
We had a little bit of a problem was that we had a
fractured news presence. We actually had two
independently-managed and operated news sites at the
university that existed in parallel online since the
beginning of the 2000s at the very least.
There's one called E-News which I started working on when
I started at Tufts in '04, and that had started around
1999, 2000, and then the other one, Tufts Journal, had
previously, historically been a print faculty/staff
newspaper that then came online due to budget cuts around
2002, 2003 or so.
They were independently run in parallel for years. We
didn't even start coordinating editorially until 2007. So
before that point, it was very possible that there
could've been a profile on Professor Smith in E-News in
March and the next profile on Professor Smith in the
Journal in April. This is not ideal.
In addition, our public relations office, they weren't
even online until 2008, so that was the third element that
was sitting out there.
Who was the team that comprised the group that tackled
It was a little bit of a challenge, actually. We had, like I said, a print group that had done the Tufts Journal, historically they also produced our alumni magazines, and then my group, which is Web Communications, so we're the web people. So you had that print-web, sometimes, disconnect.
It's a challenge to understand one another. We're coming
from very different contexts, and that can't be
underestimated how much of a challenge that can be to
overcome and how to learn to listen to each other and how
to learn to appreciate what the other side brings to the
And then we also had our PR group, like I said, that was
also an outlier.
So the team that came together was eventually Web
Communications, my group, Publications, Public Relations,
and also our Photography team.
What was our goal for Tufts Now?
Our goal was, mmm, milkshake. The way I look at it is we
were trying to create this delicious blend of content
pulling all of our content together, as well as content
from beyond our groups, and to also have smooth
coordination of all these content efforts as well.
Is this being like an annoying sound? OK. All right.
But really, truly at its essence, what our goal was was
to tell good stories and present and deliver them well.
That should really be the goal of any news or PR presence
that you have on your website for your university. Just
any communications, really. That should be your ultimate
goal: to tell good stories and present and deliver them
When we began the Tufts Now project, we said, 'Well,
let's look out in higher ed and let's see who else is out
there. Who can we learn from? Who's doing good stuff?'
because we've been doing what we had been doing for years
and years and years, so we're starting fresh. What's going
on outside in the world around us?
And what we saw was not really that impressive. We were
not really, honestly we weren't very impressed by what we
were seeing in higher ed news sites at that time. And
these were some of the things that stuck out to us.
Number one, poor design. They just did not look good.
Not dynamic. It was either something that was just text
on a static page or, dynamic in functionality, and also
dynamic in content. Or lack of dynamic in content. It was
just very flat.
An unclear sense of audience. Was this geared towards
internal audiences? External audiences? The media? Alumni?
Prospective students? Who exactly were we trying to talk
It was also stuck in the 20th century. It just had a
distinct lack of modernity. We were starting this project
Fall 2009, early 2010, so here we are, we're well into the
21st century, we're well into understanding the new way
which we're using new media to communicate, and that's not
a lot of what we were seeing in higher ed.
Higher Ed Experts did a survey in December 2010 on the
state of print and electronic publications in higher ed.
The survey found that 94% of survey respondents said that
their institutions were relying more on electronic
publications, but only 38% say their budget for electronic
publications has increased. So we're not really putting
our money where our mouth is.
If it's budget reasons, because we're more sensitive to print
magazines or what not, we are focusing more on web
publications, but for the amount of money that we're
spending on those web publications, we're not increasing
that. So we're putting more burden on the Web without
investing the time and money to make it or the focus that
we're driving to it.
I'm going to maybe name a few names. If your institution
is represented in this room, I apologize, but I wanted to
show a few real-life examples of news pages that I saw in
higher ed that represent these issues that we saw.
If you just look at some of these sites, they're just
uninspirational. Here's a wasted opportunity for a photo
with this 60x60 or 80x80 thumbnail, whatever size that is.
You have this that looks like more a database than a news
and content-rich experience. And then this is just like
the general template for a site with some news thrown in
the center well. Those are representative of what saw when
we looked around.
Here's some looks at mainstream news sites from the '90s.
When you look at these, it doesn't really look too
tremendously different from some of the sites that we just
looked through from higher ed sites from 2010, 2011. That
just shows that a lot of higher ed institutions aren't
thinking about their news experience in a modern context
in terms of what a news experience is.
We've put a lot of attention on our homepages. We tend to
think of those as being the front door, that people are
going to come in and learn about us through the homepage,
so there's a lot of flashy design and widgets that go back
and forth and show off all these photos and what not.
But I think of the concept of the Potemkin village. Like
in World War II, there would be these show villages that
the Nazis or whomever would create and the Red Cross would
come and be like, 'Look, everything's fine. The children
are playing, the fences are painted white. Everything's
great here in this village.' But if you go beyond the
facade, things are not great.
Do we really want our university websites, those
homepages, just to be sort of a show, a facade, a Potemkin
village that when you go deeper and dig into the stories
that are linked there, there's not really a whole lot
going on? It's that unclear sense of audience. It's that
poor design. It's not supporting news as its own type of
content and giving it the attention that it deserves.
So what was our approach ultimately? After taking this
all in and seeing what there was to see, what was the
approach that we used?
We looked outside of higher ed. We looked at mainstream
media to see what these sites had to teach us. These are
actually some of the sites that we drew inspiration from.
And the reason that we did this is because, news is
changing. Just news as a content type. And don't think of
that as New York Times or whatever. We do news, the New
York Times does news. It's a content type. And it's
Media is changing rapidly, and people aren't going to
give us a break because we're in higher ed. These are the
organizations that are setting the standard for what
online news experience is whether we like it or not. So
those are the models and the analogs that we have to use
in establishing our online news experiences.
You may look at these logos and say, 'Well, jeez, they
have millions and millions of dollars. What are we going
to do to match that up?' But if you've paid attention to
the journalism industry recently, you'll see that they
don't really have a lot of money. They are struggling to
get by themselves.
So a lot of the newsrooms that you see and a lot of the
online journalism that you see is done on a shoestring.
There's a lot of great regional journalism, powerful
story-telling using and blending different multimedia and
features such as that to create rich story-telling, that's
done on a shoestring budget, comparable to ones that we
have to work with. Mainstream media are setting the
standard, but it's not an unattainable standard for us.
This is a quote from a blog from Woychick Design, Think +
Do. They focus on non-profit marketing and design. This is
an insight from a post from February 2010 talking about
the same thing, what are readers looking for in an online
news experience. And this is coming from a non-profit
"Readers seek up-to-the-minute information in a
media-rich environment including video, message boards,
and opportunities to connect via social networks. Online
publications must be optimized to help people find you."
Our news is not a self-serving enterprise. We are trying
to connect with people and inform them.
Here's some concepts that I'm going to discuss that we
used in approaching Tufts Now and also just in how I think
that we need to start thinking more about our online news
presences: news discovery, stock and flow, dealing with
organizational woes, and content types.
In 2008, the Associated Press looked around and said, 'We
are out of touch. We need to stop and figure out how we're
going to adjust in this changing time and target the
increasingly important demographic of young adults.' So
they commissioned a report called "A New Model for New
News. Mission for the digital marketplace".
This was the mission statement that emerged from this
report: that the AP's goal was to "Create content that
will satisfy a full range of consumers' news needs and
then build the links that will connect people to the
relevant news they seek."
The first part may seem obvious. "Create content to
satisfy news needs." Get behind that. But the whole other
half of this is "build the links that will connect people
to the relevant news they seek." It's not just enough to
create the content. You have to create the connections to
the content as well.
Don't just make something that's... It's two-fold. Create
something shareable, so it has to have that functionality,
and also make it share-worthy. Make it something that
people want to pass on and are able to pass on. The whole
thrust of this mission is creating content that people are
going to want to share and are able to share.
There's a blogger named Valeria Maltoni. She blogs at
Conversation Agent, and she wrote about this report in
November 2010. In looking at the AP study, she noted that
"People and their social graphs are the last mile."
The concept of the 'last mile' is something like, I first
became acquainted with the context of disaster relief
where if you're trying to get your sources of money to a
region afflicted by an earthquake or something like that,
actually getting it to the person on the ground who needs
it is the hardest part. We can all sit in here and put
money in a hat and have a million dollars, but actually
getting it to the person who needs it is that last mile.
That's the hardest to bridge.
The last mile for us to bridge is actually getting the
content that we create and post to the person who's going
to find it relevant, to the person who's going to find it
informative. And the social graph, and having people
sharing that content, is that last mile, the hardest to
The second concept is the concept of stock and flow,
which is an economics concept. In brief, stock would be,
'I have $50.' Flow would be, it's transaction over time,
'I get $50 an hour.'
A blogger named Robin Sloan called the concept of stock
and flow "the master metaphor for media today." And here's
why: "Flow," Sloan said, "is the feed, posts and tweets,
the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind
people that you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It's
the content you produce that's as interesting in two
months or two years as it is today. It's what's discovered
through search. It's what spreads slowly but surely,
building fans over time."
In thinking about news discovery, we had to think about
that one approach in our content. What is the long-term
value of our content and what is the short-term value of
And I don't want that to be confused with long form or
short form, like a 250-word story versus a 1,000-word
story. It's about value: what's the short-term value,
what's going to be relevant right now that maybe it loses
value over time but right now it's incredibly important,
and what's the type of content that's going to continue to
have value and grow value over time.
So in thinking about and planning our content, we had to
keep that balance and approach in mind.
Organizational woes. I work at the central level. I work
in a central news office. It might be tempting to think
that when you're at the central level, you're the king of
the world. You're at the top. You're not paying attention
to the dean who's knocking at your door saying, 'Do this.
Do that.' You're the master of all you survey.
But that's not really the case. As we all likely know,
being in a central level in a decentralized organization
really doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. What I find to
be in a central level is that you don't really have a lot
of power to do anything. You're up here on your mountain
saying, 'Hey, everything,' and then it's all just down
there and you don't have those direct connections to it.
Or maybe some of you are more lucky than I am and have
those connections built in, but it often takes a lot of
work to develop those relationships, build those
I find that the better approach is to build
relationships, to be the ice breaker. If you're at a
department or school level and you're creating news for
your website or your newsletter, it's going to help you to
have that news elevated at the central level to the people
who are managing university-wide social media or news or
what not. So how do you build those relationships going in
And then from the central level, your content is going to
be as good as the diversity of your institution that it
represents, so it's incumbent upon you to reach out and
find those content distributors to help inform your news
presence. If they're creating great content in the school
of engineering and you're at the central news office
level, find what of that is valuable for your news channel
and elevate it. It helps everyone out. It gives you the
diversity of content and it gives them more visibility for
what they're producing.
And then there's content types. A lot of times, I think that the default that we think of news as is text: a text news story, a text news release. But we had to start thinking about a greater diversity of content types because they're within our reach to create, and they may be more suited for the type of content or the story that we're trying to tell.
What is the place of video and audio and photos in our
news content? Or even things like a live chat? Or even
Instagram? You have an iPhone, you have the Instagram app,
you may think, 'Well, how is that going to function into
our news?' Just look at NPR and Instagram. They've taken
to using Instagram as a channel for communicating news and
doing it through the visual filtered photography.
There's also a great app out there called Storify which
allows you to create and blend different streams of social
media content. A lot of news organizations are using
Storify to tell stories in real time, a lot of it for
breaking news or events.
And then there's user-generated content. What is our
community creating beyond our staff news offices and what
not? Our audiences are telling our stories for us. So what
is out there that we can take advantage of?
The interesting thing about structure of content, it's
one thing to tell a great story, but it's another thing to
enable it to go out onto the Web and be shared and have
the structure that allows it to be found through search.
So think about SEO and tagging and linking and metadata
and all of those things with regard to our news content.
What is the structure of our content such that it supports
our efforts to have content that is shareable and
And then there's making our content social, relevant and
contextual. That's that last mile that Valeria Maltoni was
talking about. How are we enabling out content to be
relevant and contextual such that it resonates with
people, and then we can help bridge that last mile? These
are the questions that we have to start thinking about.
And this is to me the biggest question: what is the press
release in the age of the social Web?
The press release, I feel, is the great crutch of higher
ed news. It's what a lot of our institutions default to as
the unit of news publication on the Web.
If you're not familiar with what that notation is, that '-30-', that's the old school notation for the end of a press release, to let you know that this is 'end of the copy'. But a press release today, does that ever end? Is there an ending to a press release out on the social Web?
I think that we have to think about two things when
thinking about the role of a news release today in our
Number one, what is the relevance of it? Who is the
audience? Who are we trying to communicate this to? Is it
for the media? Is it for our alumni or prospective student
audiences? Thinking about that will guide how we market
it, how we share it, how we write it.
And then there's also thinking about a press release as being an ambassador for our news. When you publish a piece of news content, it's going to go out there and it's going to become sort of our front door. If you structured it right and it's shared out there, it becomes the front door for people to learn about your institution, to learn about your brand. So how does it function as a landing page? Where are people going to go from there?
I really love this quote that I found from this guy, Kyle
Christie, who works in PR at King's College in London. It
really just sums up, I think, the best way to start
thinking about this. "Universities have an opportunity to
leapfrog the mainstream media and explain our research,
teaching and wider constitutions to society and forms
beyond the text-based press release. We have websites and
access to the tools needed to reach the public."
We have the technology. We can do this. We think of,
here's our story and here's our audience, and
traditionally we'd use the media to mediate that story
being connected to our audience. But we can go straight to
our destination. We don't have to go through a mediator
There's a value to going through the press and having our
source amplified, but we don't have to rely on that
conduit as the main way to communicate our stories. We
have the ability to do that. It's just a matter of
realizing and shifting the mindset to understand that we
can just go directly, we can just pass go and collect
Here are some of the solutions that I think can help us
in reinventing our university news presences.
Again, it's looking at mainstream media as an analog.
Another way that I want to urge you to think about this is
to hire journalists. There are a lot of journalists who
are out of work out there, and if you have staff openings
in your news or marketing office, hiring a journalist such
as one who's paid their debts on a beat working in a
newsroom is really, really valuable.
I actually wrote an article, and linked, about this a few
months back and outlined the characteristics of a
journalist can really help do all the stuff that we're
talking about, can help execute these strategies.
I'll cap my caveat is that I'm a former journalist, but
it's from working and I feel like the skills that I
learned in the newsroom served me well coming to work in
higher ed because I knew how to find a story and I had the
determination to tell it. And journalists are very
resourceful. Like I said, we're used to being a little bit
So I would really urge you, if you have any openings in
your marketing and news offices, to look and target people
who have journalism backgrounds, newspaper, etcetera.
That's a valuable skill set for us to consider.
There was a great article in the Atlantic Monthly a few
months back talking about what the New York Public Library
has done in their marketing efforts. They've had a huge
amount of budget woes recently but they found ways, even
within those budgetary constraints, to do things that, as
this article explained, challenge even what the mainstream
media is capable of doing.
There's a bitly link here, I'll be sharing these slides
after as well if you want to give the article a read,
overviewing what the New York Public Library has been
doing, and it's really impressive stuff. Again, they are
working with some severe budgetary constraints but still
doing amazing things.
And then there's thinking about story-telling. There was
a session earlier this morning about story-telling and
social media content and how powerful that is. I really
think that we just have to think of a way to tell better
What does that mean? I think we need to think about the
emotional response that our stories are going to evoke. If
we want our stories to drive people to action, whether
it's to volunteer or donate or enroll, we have to think
about the emotion that those stories are going to evoke,
because actions driven by emotion are extremely powerful.
So when crafting our content, it all ties back to
thinking about content types and what's the best way to
tell the story. It may be a photo essay. It may be a short
video. It may be a thousand-word article. We have to think
about the meaningful way that we're going to share those
stories to get across the emotional reaction that we want
and help drive the action that we want.
Telling better stories and finding ways to encourage
emotional responses that drive desired actions is really a
valuable formula to strive for.
We also take a holistic approach. This isn't just a
domain of writers and editors sitting in a room and
deciding what's best. The team for Tufts Now is comprised
of, we had designers, we had developers, we had web
people, we had writers. It was a blended team, and I think
that that really informed the product that we ended up
Taking a holistic approach and bringing photographers and
developers and designers and writers into the room from
the start, from the ground floor, to say, 'Here's our
problem. How do we get together to solve it?' is critical
because everyone is going to bring their dimension and
their background to the conversation to help inform the
And then that solution that emerges is going to be more
well-rounded and more easy to execute because everyone
has bought into it and everyone had a role in developing
Here is a look at a document shared by Forbes outlining
what their vision of the new newsroom is like. It involves
content contributors, it involves programmers,
evangelists, social networks, tagging an SEO for search
engines, analytics, and how those all feed back together.
We have to start thinking about our editorial teams. It's
not just enough to have a flashy site with cool
functionality and Twitter links and all this fun stuff.
Who's the team behind it and how do they work together?
What are the relationships in the workflows that help
inform what goes up on that fancy site?
How are we planning out content? What are the brand
attributes that we're trying to hit in our content? Do we
have an editorial calendar? How does that work out? How
does that line up with what we promote via social media?
Are we doing information-sharing with our institution so
we have the conduits set up to know, 'Hey, this is what's
going on at these schools and this is what's going on in
these programs, this is what's going on in athletics,' and
it's all feeding up to inform our news process and what's
What's our information-sharing process? What are the
structures that we've set up to have the relationships and
information in place to make our news site succeed?
I think we really have to understand that all of the
people creating news at our university are all on the same
team. Whether we're on central level, school level,
different departments, whatever it is, we're all creating
content that's trying to communicate our institution
stories or some aspect of our institution stories. So the
more that we can realize that and build the structures to
make that more apparent and make that more of a reality is
And we're not competing with one another. We're not
trying to outdo one another or, 'Let me get that story in
my central news channel before the School of Engineering
posts it on their newsletter.' Why would we compete? We
don't have time. We don't have money. It's a waste to try
to scoop one another.
Work with each other. If there's concerns about quality
of content not lining up or something like that, then work
to help develop a shared style guide or shared style for
news stories or get group training so that everyone is
brought up to the same level if you want to improve the
quality of the content from contributors around the
university. Find ways to elevate everybody, because we
don't have the time or the resources to waste to do
I also think it's valuable just to take a fresh approach
in our story-telling and just not tell the same old story
the same old way.
One of my favorite examples of this is something that
Boston University does. They have a feature called "One
Class, One Day" where, we've probably all told some flavor
of the story like, 'Oh, we had this new interesting class.
It's about this. It's taught by so-and-so. The students
had a great time.'
But the way that they tell that story is they look at one
class session, like a 45-minute session, and just explain,
'Here's what happened. Here is the discussion. The
professor said this, a student asked this question. This
is how that class session went.' It creates this immersive
narrative of, 'This is what the class is all about' in the
richest way possible, which is just letting you experience
it through that story.
This is something else cool that BU does. They have a
blog called "Professor Voices" and they call it "a timely
collection of newsworthy commentary and analysis." It's
basically an opportunity to show off faculty expertise,
but it's done in a blog format and it's done to connect
with real-time events.
"Apple after Jobs". They had an expert who commented about what is going to be the fate of Apple after the death of Steve Jobs. They're showing off the faculty expertise but they're doing it in a way that creates content of value for multiple audiences. I'm interested in this just as one who's curious to know about reactions after Steve Jobs' death, but this also helps out the media who may be looking for experts to comment on that for a story.
Measurement is also a huge, huge part of it. Looking at
your web analytics and seeing what's popular, what are
people looking for, what kind of stories are driving the
most traffic or attracting the most attention.
And then there's also social stats, what's getting
shared, what are people talking about out there, how can
we measure that conversation, and using that to then
inform future coverage. So not just saying, 'This is what
happened,' but 'This is what happened and this is how it's
going to inform what we do next,' having that bridge
measured, it could be a great bridge to improving your
content by seeing how is it performing, how are people
reacting to it, and then that will inform what we do next.
And I'll definitely point to Rick over here, he's the expert on figuring out the analytics side of it, but having a strategy in place that lets us measure things and then know the impact of them is critical.
I touched on this a little bit before earlier about the
impact of design.
News is its own content type. It's not the same as our
'majors and minors' page, it's not the same as our 'get to
know our university' page. It's a unique content type that
needs special attention and it needs a design that's
unique to it. We can't just take our standard template and
throw a headline and some body text in there and call it a
news story. It's not going to serve the content
Approaching news content thoughtfully and thinking about
how a news experience is laid out and designed is
There's a good resource called the Society for News
Design that has some cool information. They also have a
good tool kit on their website. There's a lot of free
resources for telling stories visually. It's snd.org, I
believe. I also have the link at the end of my
Giving news content the due design attention it needs to
really help that content come to light and be represented
in the best way is critical.
It's also just for trying something new. Like I said,
news is changing, media is evolving. There are new
channels and tools emerging everyday. How can we use these
to meet our needs? We're not going to learn that unless we
get a little bit innovative and experimental and see how
these tools work.
One example that I want to share with you is a great tool
called Soundslides. Soundslides is basically a free...no,
it's not free. It's cheap; $60, I think. You download it;
it's an app. If you have photography and an audio file,
you can blend the two together to create a rich multimedia
You don't need to have video-editing skills or anything.
It's really easy to use. You can add the photos in, get
the audio file in and create the transitions, add lower
thirds, add credits, add the whole deal. You can even
export it as a movie file and then upload it to your
For 60 bucks, you have this tool that now, with resources
you may already have, if you have a microphone in your
computer and you have photos, you can have someone narrate
a slideshow and create this rich story-telling experience,
for not a lot of money.
There's also, I mentioned earlier, Storify as a cool tool
for content creation. That's free. Like I said, a lot of
news organizations use it as well.
So looking at the new tools that our out there and seeing
how they fit our needs is really important.
Something else that we started doing at Tufts was
live-tweeting events. There's so much that's happening on
campus and there's no possible way that we could cover it
all with writers or even photographers. What we could do
is send students to live-tweet the events on a special
account we set up called TuftsLive on Twitter, and then we
use another tool I'll talk about in a second called
CoveritLive, and sometimes we also use Storify to pull
those tweets together and say, 'We had this event. Here's
the recap,' and we embed that on our events blog.
So you will charge your intern, our interns get $10 an
hour, so for 20 bucks we now have coverage of awesome
events that we may not have found a way to capture
A lot of times, it's only the high-profile events, the
big-name speakers that get attention, but the richness of
our campus experience is often defined by the really
awesome speakers who went to Africa and did amazing
research, and they're talking to 30 people, but it's those
kinds of experiences that also help define our
institution. It's not just the big name-endowed lecturers.
Finding ways to cover all of those corners of the campus
experience on a budget is essential and doable.
Also, finding ways to have interactive content is important. I alluded earlier to a tool called CoveritLive. CoveritLive is a tool that does a couple of things. Again, we use it for TuftsLive to embed tweets. If you have an event that's happening, let's say it was this session, you could have the hashtag and then a certain Twitter account all feed in. You could have that all archived.
You can also use it for live chat. If you have a
professor who has expertise on an issue that's of timely
fashion, you can have that professor do a live chat with
It's a free tool. You just embed it on your website and
manage it via a web consul. So for no cost, you've created
an opportunity for interactive experience that will help
your audience get really valuable information.
I also want to talk about having a real-time mindset.
This is a book by a guy named David Meerman Scott called
"Real-Time Marketing and PR" and his whole thing is about
real-time is a valuable mindset. It's not just about
tweeting, it's about what you're tweeting and how it's
The whole idea of relevance, I think, nowadays, often hinges on real-time communications. That's what relevance is. What matters now. What matters to me right now. Right now for all of us, HighEdWeb is really important. In three weeks, it will be less important, but right now it's real-time for us, so we want to see content around that.
Also, if we're pitching stories, the media work in
real-time. That example of Steve Jobs' death, that's
real-time marketing. We're pushing information out there
that's relevant to that topic. Today, nowadays, it's been
a couple of weeks since Steve Jobs died; that has less
impact. It's less relevant because it's not as real-time.
Having a mindset that's us as being aware of what's
happening now, what's immediately relevant, is really
This is an example from Cornell of a video that was
created just a couple of hours after the earthquake that
we had in August. It was a professor of Geology talking
about what happened and why does an earthquake take place.
I thought this was really great that you capitalize on
that opportunity to have this expert come and give
And that's really the value that we can provide in real-time. When there's an event that's happening, we have knowledge all around us, so if we capitalize on real-time information to add our knowledge as context to help explain what happened, we have value.
'This earthquake happened. Why did this happen? This
doesn't happen in the east coast. What's going on? Here's
someone to help explain. Here's someone to help us make
sense of it.' And that matters in the now. That was like,
that whole afternoon it's all anyone was talking about.
Two days later, not so much conversation, less value to
something like this.
We had two alums who were in a hiphop group called
Timeflies and they had their latest EP go up in the Top 10
on iTunes. They were only in the Top 10 for that day.
Through monitoring social media and what not, we were able
to grab some screenshots of the iTunes ranking and what
not and put it up on our blog and be, 'Hey, these alums
are in the Top 10 on iTunes right below Lady Gaga. This is
Again, it would have less impact the week later, less
impact two days later, but we were able to get it up there
while it was immediately relevant. 'This is just released,
just at the Top 10. This just happened.'
Thinking about social media, also has two-fold purposes.
One is for monitoring. By monitoring what's happening at
social media, I've gotten so many story ideas. From seeing
what people are tweeting about and what's going on, I've
learned about alums that do cool things I never knew
about, just by monitoring blog posts or YouTube tagged
with our university's name to see what comes up in the
It's amazing what you can uncover just by listening. Mike
Petroff was talking about that a little earlier in his
session, the power of listening. Listening is going to
give you so much content ideas you won't know what to do
The other component of social media, when you think about
it, is distribution. We need to match up our editorial
calendar with our social media distribution, figure out
what stories are we promoting through which channels. Some
content makes more sense to share via Twitter than
Facebook; how do we figure that out? How are we lining up
what we're producing as news with how we distribute it on
I talked about this a little bit earlier, too, is news as
landing pages. Once people land on our news content or our
press release, where do they go from there? Where do we
want them to go? How are we shaping that page and how are
we laying it out and what are we driving people towards
from that point?
We can't just create the content, stick it in the well,
and call it a day. It's the first step of what could be a
great journey. So where are we leading people? Where do we
want them to go?
There's also the idea that our news is not an island.
When we create a news story, it shouldn't just be its own
little thing apart from anything else. I like to think of
it more as an archipelago. We have all these different
channels: social media, website, digital signage,
newsletter, etcetera; they should all be aligned. The
content should ideally come from one source and then
inform and feed out everything else.
I'm also a big, big fan of making friends with your
developers, as I've said a little bit before. Working with
developers from the beginning is going to give you a
richer product that's going to line up better with what
your vision is because they helped develop and execute it.
Also think about news as a product. It's not just about
content that gets written. It's about what we create and
put out there.
This is a cool thing that Harvard did where they created
a news widget from their Harvard Gazette that anyone could
go and embed on their website. If you're a school or a
department at Harvard, or if you're the alumni website, or
maybe you're just an alum who loves Harvard so much you
want to have their news on your website, they created a
product from their news where, really quick, just add some
code, and suddenly you have all the latest Harvard news.
And they make this available.
So the developers being involved helped create this
product that then shares the story even further.
I talked about structured content a little bit earlier.
There's a really great resource that a company named
Razorfish created, this eBook called "Nimble". If you go
to nimble.razorfish.com, they're going to send that link
to your developer who's now your new best friend. It can
help you start thinking about structuring content such
that it gets the traction on the Web to be shared and be
Also think about the CMS is really important. Again, news
is a unique content type. We use Drupal for Tufts Now. We
use an instance of Drupal called OpenPublish, which is
geared towards media publications.
There's a great session, I wasn't there, but I heard
amazing things about it that Lacy Tite from Vanderbilt
gave about WordPress for your news site. That's also a
really great tool because it's geared around publications.
If you're using some other CMS, does that CMS have a
module or a customization that supports news as its own
content type? If you're talking to the venders downstairs,
it's worth asking that question. How do you support news?
How do you treat it uniquely? How do you address its
unique needs as, again, our ambassadors who are going out
on the Web to tell our story?
This is another cool article, again, the link will be in
the slides, talking about CMS from a journalism
perspective. Again, for us as web marketers, it's valuable
to how we think about news CMSs supporting our work.
This is another article that again talked about how a
regional paper created a news site using WordPress and
Google Docs. Again, budgetary constraints, but amazing
things can be done.
We also need to look at our approach from 'Web first'
versus 'print first'. I feel some of us are trying to
adapt print publications for the Web and vice-versa, but
this is a great quote from a guy named Max Butler who
said, "Why are we letting the delivery platform hold our
content hostage? News organizations should instead be
'content-first' and use tools that promote content above
So we're working with print publications, web publications, and having these different tracks or figuring out what informs what; let the content drive the process, not the channel. We're trying to pull in content from a print magazine and wedge it into the Web? It will take a step back. We have this content, it then gets on the print magazine, it then goes on the Web, it then goes here. Let the content drive what makes sense versus a process that's tied to a channel.
The other thing we need to consider is that there's more
news the Web to worry about. "These are weird times for
publishing," said Erin Kissane at the Confab Content
Strategy Conference in May. Look at all we have to worry
about now: Instapaper, iPad, Kindle Fire, Google TV. These
are all emerging channels for how we consume news content.
Again, we have to think that our content is going to have a home, or maybe needs to have a home, beyond just the website. It's not just thinking about, well, the Web, and then also mobile, it's also these other ways that people are consuming content, saving it to read later, etcetera. Is our content able to do that? Could it be adapted for these ways that people are now consuming content? We have to start figuring out the answers to those questions.
It may seem like a lot. We're a one-man band. I've given
this presentation a couple of times before and some of the
people I've gotten has said, 'It's so much. How are we
supposed to do all of this?' Just do one thing. It's about
value, not volume. If you're able to go and implement it
all, wonderful, but I sincerely doubt any of us are able
to do that. I'm not able to do that. But if we find one
way just to tell one story better, then everyone's going
to be better off.
Some great examples. UT-Austin right down the street.
Denison University. BU Today from Boston University. And
of course Vanderbilt, who presented earlier. There's also
some really cool resources that are available as well.
Again, these links will be in my slides.
The one I want to highlight is News University,
newsu.org. They give really, really affordable webinars
and sessions for learning about how to write web stories
better and multimedia story-telling and things like that,
again, geared towards journalists who have no money.
Really great books as well. Again, David Meerman Scott,
both of his books, "New Rules of Marketing and PR" and
"Real-Time Marketing and PR" are going to have some great
information for how to do this.
I apologize if I'm a little bit late, but thank you very