- Remember we’re all connected. Here’s what Brene Brown says about empathy.
- Check out Trello for staying organized (and read their tips below on staving off frazzled feelings.)
- Note-taking apps are awesome; Evernote, recommended by Jeff Lewin (bio sci), has some good pdf capture and OCR features
- Write better and sound smart with Grammarly, a more-than-spellcheck chrome plug-in
- WOOP: 4 simple steps to make stuff actually happen using mental contrasting (stands for wish-outcome-obstacle-plan)
- Some podcasts to up your game: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Hidden Brain (including this one on WOOP), Note to Self (check out their Infomagical boot camp)
June’s Campus Communicators meeting focused on the new website design, brand updates, and the upcoming alumni reunion.
Joel Vertin ran us through some of the strategies behind the new (and beautiful!) mtu.edu. The new site uses the new brand look, is responsive, and has some awesome coding on the back end, such as:
- ARIA tagging for screen readers
- Schema tagging to make our content more informative to search engines
- Enhanced social media tagging, so linked photos and text look great on all major platforms.
The new template went live on mtu.edu in early June, and will be rolled out to individual sites over the summer. If you’re interested in getting on the list for a refresh, please contact your web liaison or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips to help you prepare are also included in Joel’s presentation.
New Brand—The Look
Ian Repp discussed the transition process for the new brand identity. We saw samples of business cards, letterhead, and name tags. These will be rolled out in late July and early August. Everyone will be eligible for a starter set of a name tag, business cards, and letterhead. Keep an eye on Tech Today for more information.
New Brand—The Language
Real. Short. To the point. Shannon Rinkinen presented some tips about the new brand writing style. There will also be a brand blog rolling out soon—we’ll give you a link when it’s live.
Erin Thompson talked about Alumni Reunion, to be held on August 4-6. This year’s reunion will have new activities and more activities for all ages. This could be a great post (or two or three!) for your social media over the summer. View Erin’s presentation to learn more.
Photography day! University Photographer Sarah Bird shared some tips on how to obtain and use University photos, how to set up your own photos to look their best, and a few fun tricks. (Did you know that if a photo looks dark on your iPhone, you can increase the exposure to brighten the area? Just click on the focal point, and swipe up.) Then Becky Barnard (Digital Services Specialist, UMC) gave a quick run-through of how to use these photos on social media, and the importance of sizing.
- https://photos.admin.mtu.edu/web/ – Access the University photo collection for your department
- Social Media Field Guide
- Pixlr – free online photo editing
And remember to join us for the brand launch on Friday, February 26 1:30 p.m. in the library!
Social Media Field Guide
After many edits and a lot of hard work, the Social Media Field Guide is available. The layout is pretty intuitive – it’s broken into chapters, such as Guiding Principles: tone and personality and Hashtags. If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the content, feel free to contact Scott Balyo, Shannon Rinkinen, or another member of the social media team at UMC.
It is a living document meaning that it will continue to evolve and grow. If you notice any errors or have any suggestions, please email Scott Balyo. The University Marketing and Communications team is looking forward to getting your feedback.
Haven’t gotten a copy yet? Hard copies of the 2016 edition can be picked up at our monthly meetings or you can email Scott Balyo for a PDF copy.
End of Semester Creativity Exercise
Cynthia Drake, Openings Life Coaching
The end of the semester is always chaotic, so what better time to take a step back and exercise our creativity for an hour? For those of you that missed the creativity exercise, there will be another at the end of the spring semester.
- We opened the meeting with a discussion of the Yik Yak threat and subsequent response
- Communicators heard that faculty weren’t always sure what was happening – they received the Safety First emails, but not the emails from Les.
- Should the distribution list for Les’ emails include faculty and staff? Or at least be open to opt-ins?
- Kudos to UMC’s Twitter staff for recognizing the threat and immediately reporting it
- If you ever come across something that you’re not sure about, please don’t hesitate to contact UMC, and they’ll work with you to figure out the next steps
Allison Mills and Jessica Brassard
- We started with a round of Picture Telephone
- This activity showed how research stories can change as they’re interpreted and re-interpreted by different people
- Things to think about in science writing:
- Visuals: do your visuals accurately represent the story? Are photos of people current (check hair cuts, glasses, etc.)? Are diagrams labeled properly?
- Marketing vs. science writing: sometimes, the visual you have isn’t compelling. Talk to your faculty to see if another visual can be substituted, or if the communication is going to an audience that will know the context. General rule of thumb: marketing pieces have some leeway. Science writing and writing about research doesn’t.
- Explanations and analogies: most science articles need to ‘translate’ the science into layman’s terms. If you use analogies to explain the concept, are they accurate?
- Working with researchers: ask your subject what they think is the most important takeaway.
- Don’t be afraid to say “Let’s come at this like I don’t know anything,” or “Pretend you’re teaching someone about this.”
- If researchers aren’t used to coming to you with story ideas, you may have to seek them out. Go to doctoral defenses, look at funding announcements, or just walk around and chat with the people you see.
- Content strategy
- It’s hard to get started if you’re not used to this!
- Jessica made a one-page content strategy guide that will help you define your audience, detail what you want to communicate, and determine your schedule.
- Next month: part of communication is being creative! We’ll meet for a creative activity that’ll help us relax and rejuvenate before the holiday break.
- Welcome to the new folks in our group! Looking forward to collaborating with you moving forward.
- We voted on priorities for the semester; see attached plan and stay tuned for updates.
- Some group members feel the need to check in more regularly. Check out the “Michigan Tech Campus Communicators” Facebook group, join us at 11:30 on Thursdays for the C-Cubed Lunches and reach out to UMC staff for more formal communications strategizing.
- Talk to your fellow staff, supervisors, faculty and others to figure out what your department/college/organization wants to do with communications. Be honest about how to assign those duties and the time it takes.
- Suggestion from Hannah: when you hit the computer screen wall and can’t focus, take 15 minutes to walk around your building and talk to people in labs, take pictures and craft a short post for social media
Campus Comm Group
Additional chances to engage:
- Michigan Tech Campus Communicators group on Facebook
- Weekly informal gatherings 11:30 am C-Cubed Lunches in the MUB
- Meet with your staff/faculty/deans and UMC staff to talk through department or organization communications efforts
- Video training
- Photo training
- Managing the technical side of social media
- Dealing with relics, old accounts and outdated pages
- Growing our platforms
- Connecting beyond individual departments/groups
- Coordinating posts in the comm group and beyond
- Next steps, how to reflect the cutting edge in communications
- Specific, detailed trainings on different platforms
- Incorporating analytics in digital media
- Hannah Abbotts from the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science shared her new social media process. Key points: she commits to doing posts daily–taking less than an hour to do so–and focused on target audiences (she had great success on her alumni reunion posts on Twitter and Facebook.) Follow @sfres and like ’em at https://www.facebook.com/sfres.
- Jeff Lewin from the Department of Biological Science shared how he got a department Twitter up and running. Key points: curate good content from researchers–and encourage them to sign up and post regularly–and know what hashtags to use. Follow @MichiganTechBio and check out my @aw_mills “Michigan Tech Folks” list to see some of our researchers’ Twitter accounts.
- Traditional media is changing: Press releases and print publications do not have the impact they once did while social media and website use is skyrocketing.
- We need to know: our audience, our platform, our purpose and our messaging, then we can tailor our storytelling. Nothing replaces good content.
- In the words of Joel, “What’s the fastest way to learn about us? Google us.” Websites and digital media are crucial because of this.
From Allison’s email:
- We’ve got a campus-wide social media plan in the works. Ian Repp and Scott Balyo are spearheading that with a company called Gray Matter. They’ll be sending out a survey to ourcomm group. Let me know if you want more info.
- We talked about content strategy and how to establish an efficient social media process. We’re all experimenting (see what we’re trying out at UMC in the pdf) and please use the Facebook group as a space to vet posts and ask for feedback. Way to go, Chris Henderson, for starting with the ASPEN Facebook page!
- We had an up front conversation about using social media at work: If it’s part of your job then you shouldn’t be embarrassed or penalized for having these pages open. Let’s talk more about this work culture challenge in the Facebook group. Or over coffees.
- We talked about engagement: The main message is that social media is about connecting with people. If we want people to check out our stuff, then we have to like, share, follow and check out other people’s stuff. And be nice, yo.
From Allison’s recap email:
I’ll try to make this short and sweet. I’ll keep with the bold for items to follow up on.
First, it was great getting to place real faces with email addresses. I hope everyone gets a chance to meet in person sometime.
Second, thanks to everyone who posted in the Facebook group. I know I’ve enjoyed getting to learn more about everyone’s work and I hope others see it as a resource as well. Feel free to post on there if you have questions, want to follow up after the meeting or just to share the awesome stuff happening in your office.
Now the meeting itself; here’s the important stuff:
- The group voted on skill shares (sorry to those who missed out, please email me your thoughts). I used that as the basis for the rough agenda attached in the skillshares doc.
- We also voted on the best ways to stay in contact; email recaps and monthly meetings won out, Facebook was close behind. So we’ll just keep this format until there’s a call for change.
- We also generated a list of reasons why we came to the group and why we’d keep coming back. I’ve attached that list, but it’s an ongoing conversation: I’ll post in FB group what folks said at the meeting and comment with your own thoughts. It helps give us all a sense of directions and prioritize the needs of the group.
The next meeting will be May 21st 10 am to 11 am, probably in the same room. I’ll confirm those details as we get closer. For the May meeting, we’ll focus on the campus news cycle–how UMC does news stories, how Tech Today works, how departments get out news. Jenn, mark and I will also break down what makes news and what doesn’t–and all the gray in between.
Michigan Tech Campus Communicators
Goals (why you’re here and why you’d keep coming)
- Find ways to communicate out on campus more effectively
- Streamline news stories, especially to department news feed/blog
- Promote department on social media
- Working with data collected on Google Forms
- Find out who to call for what
- Learn best practices for communication on campus
- Share/cross-pollinate best communication practices
- Better integrate communication plans and practices
- Communicate science such as climate change related issues
- Direction of news: department to Tech Today and others
- Better understand who does what and the word out about Superior Ideas
- How are Michigan Tech news stories chosen
- UMC branding/marketing standards—how to create and MTU look/feel?
- Share news stories—10 min. round robin @ each meeting
- One of the items that came up several times is just the difference between all our jobs — and for almost half the group, our newness to Tech or to our positions. Christina and I chatted afterwards and came up with an action item that will hopefully continue to develop our sense of each other’s roles and communication systems. Please head over to our Facebook group (Michigan Tech SciComm) and post a brief description of your job, what kind of communication you do and how much communication work fits into overall duties.
- Additionally, we talked a lot about calendar issues. This partially stems from our different jobs and how they fit into our departments, colleges and schools. This also reflects a need for a better university-wide calendar. Give me feedback on calendars. We’ll dedicate a meeting to discussing this, but I’m hoping to do some more digging to find out what’s in place and for us to have informed discussion and skillshares.
- Another topic that came up: prioritizing and streamlining internal communication (and then on the news side, prioritizing stories that go beyond Tech). This will organically develop as we all get to know each other and our communication processes. Part of this is figuring out how to find information in our own departments/colleges/schools; part is establishing a system to deal with newsletters/Facebook/Tech Today posts/news story pitches; part is having clear expectations for who covers what and when. All that is sticky and may lead to hair-tearing. It’s fine. It’s life. It’s our jobs. And as a group we can tease out better ways to navigate the chaos. Just stew on it.
- Finally, we got caught in a Twitter rabbit hole. We’ll talk more about social media more in depth at a later meeting. Think about what you want to learn, reservations you have, what platforms you manage for work/personal/volunteer, etc.
- The group needs to be inclusive. Find others who might want to join this group. Let’s find our critical mass to make our work effective.
- With more people coming in, we’re going to focus on introductions and our different roles/duties on campus. I’ll put together some activities to explore this; I may ask some of you to help.
- Check the Facebook group for our skill share list; I’ll work on coming up with an agenda so we can set dates for everyone to teach.