The Web Team offered guidance during its Web Maintainers’ Summit on February 16, 2011, on how to put news and events in student e-mail newsletter the Beak and other IUP e-newsletters.
View the “Put It in the Beak” slide show from the summit.
Information for these newsletters comes from department and office websites, so getting something into a newsletter means putting it in your website’s news feed or calendar.
In addition to e-mail newsletters, news and events on the website are distributed through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and both social media and traditional media outlets. So, by starting with a post on the website, your news has a far greater reach than an e-mail distribution list.
That said, not every IUP news item is included in every e-mail newsletter. Because readers have limited time and attention, only items geared toward a particular audience are placed in that audience’s newsletter. For example, news for students is not included in employee e-mail newsletter IUP Daily.
Because of the added attention the e-mail newsletters have placed on news, the Web Team has started additional reviews of news posts to reduce errors. A revamp of the News and Events section of the website and the deletion or archiving of old news posts are also planned.
Both web maintainers and non-maintainers are able to place news onto the website and, therefore, into the IUP e-mail newsletters.
While web maintainers post news in their department or office feeds, non-maintainers can use the “Suggest a News Item” tool on the appropriate department or office News page.
Both maintainers and non-maintainers should be mindful of the workflow, or approval, process. News must be submitted or approved by a department or office website approver before it moves on to the Web Team for publishing. Those submitting news should coordinate with their website approvers to make sure the news moves through workflow before the deadline of the intended e-mail newsletter.
News that is not approved at the department or office level within seven days of its creation will have missed its cycle in the e-mail newsletters and will need to be recreated to be picked up for future issues.
Recognized student organizations can place news on the website (and into the Beak) by using the news submission form. This form is limited to use by student organizations; departments and offices must use their own news feeds.
Now that the Beak has replaced the daily campus-event e-mail, submissions to email@example.com are no longer being accepted. Student organizations must use the news submission form, and departments and offices must use their own news feeds for news previously submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing effective news posts is all about communicating the details readers need, regardless of how much or how little they actually read.
Because most people skim rather than read on the Web, important details need to be made obvious in news posts. Using the inverted pyramid style (arranging the story from the most important to the least important details) allows readers to learn the who, what, when, where, why, even if they read only the first few paragraphs.
For readers who don’t click through to the full stories, use of meaningful headlines and summaries can help to get the important points across. To make sure people who skim don’t miss important details, make text more scannable through use of headings, lists, tables, images, event details boxes, and video.
Still, some readers will want more details, and news posts should accommodate them as well.
When possible, link calendar events to news posts or other webpages to provide further details. News posts should always have a link back to the department or office website, so that people who read the news out of context (such as through RSS) have an easy way to find the website for more information.
Supporting details should also be included in the news post itself. For the convenience of web maintainers, background information on faculty and staff members and departments and offices can be kept in a separate file and pasted into news posts when applicable.
More information about writing effective news posts is available in the training session Promoting Your Department Using News and Events.
Winners of the Golden Mouse Award as February 2011 Web Maintainers of the Month are Cynthia Spielman and Rich DiStanislao of the Center for Student Success.
The Golden Mouse was awarded based on their work on new student e-mail newsletter the Beak. While Spielman posts to the website all the news and events submitted by student organizations, DiStanislao takes primary responsibility for selecting and categorizing news for the Beak.
Congratulations on this well-deserved award.
See the editorial calendar for February 2011.