Posts Tagged "conference"

eduWEB 2009: “I can do THAT with Google?” by @bradjward, blue fuego

Posted by on Jul 21, 2009 in conference, higher ed

Presenter: Brad J Ward, CEO – Blue Fuego

Abstract: I will walk through many of Google’s services and products and show attendees how they can use them to increase productivity within their workplace as well as provide a better experience for their website visitors.Sites featured include, but are not limited to, Google Docs, Maps, Alerts, Webmaster Tools, YouTube, Analytics, Forms, GTalk/GChat, Blogger and more.

Notes during presentation …

Recommended Reading: Free, Chris Anderson

First step: get a Google account that you will use for all of this …

Thought: stop and think whether other staff will ever need access – should you create a corporate Google account instead of using your personal one?

Next: set up Google Alerts – great way to get buzz about your institution.

Thought: I am almost anti-google-alerts … relying too heavily on it can cause you to miss a lot of important web content/buzz.  Remember to regularly search your brand (you’ll be shocked by how much didn’t show up in your alerts).

Brad’s Experience: Brad found out that Butler’s $13K mascot costumes had been stolen via a Google Alert.  Caught it early enough to hitch a ride with the buzz and blow tweets and youtube out of the water, even get mass media attention.

Thought: Best practice is to track down specific mentions of your brand, individual applicants commenting about their school decision.  Don’t try to do this for every social mention. Just don’t. Catch what you reasonably can, but unless you have a social army, it’s not realistic to respond to every tweet, blog post, facebook note, discussion thread. If you end up getting them all – great, but don’t hate on yourself for getting 90%.

Learn More

eduWEB 2009: William & Mary Redesign Presentation

Posted by on Jul 21, 2009 in conference

Notes from presentation …

I’m very excited about this presentation – even their ppt is pretty!


  • W&M was working from a design that was 9 years old
  • Spent about 4 months pre-planning, then RFP and selected mStoner
  • Partnership with mStoner was citical to project’s success

The mStoner Essence: (Redesign Strategy)

  • Discovery
  • Strategy Development
  • Content Creation
  • Design + Testing
  • Technology pecifications
  • Implementation + Launch
  • Constant Communication

Plus signs + are the cool new ampersand &.

The W&M Essence: (Redesign Strategy)

  • Transparent communication
  • Campus participation
  • Project management from it
  • 20% technology, 80% not
  • Trust in the mStoner redesign process

Phase I – Discovery:


  • mStoner gets to know the institution (deep dive on site, read current publications)
  • Competitor review (“W&M doesn’t have peers!”)
  • Idetify goals: who is the site for? etc
  • Talk to everyone possible to see what they want, need, think re: the site


  • Prepping campus participants
  • The green room: cookies and drinks to engage while also shooing out the previous group

W&M chose not to sit in on stakeholder interviews with mStoner – they feel they got much more honest input because of this.

… in a lot of ways, the redesign I am working on has been at a disadvantage because pre-planning was done by a team that no longer exists.  All these great steps, if they were done, no one knows about them or has the outcomes … these prep activities are critical for the agency to learn the culture of the school and its quirks/priorities.  Especially in higher ed redesigns, which are incredibly complex and political, getting to know the ropes is one of the most important steps for an agency.

Phase II – Strategy Development


  • prioritize audiences
  • formulate information architecture
  • outline creative recommendations, messaging ideas
  • Sort through policies and procedures
  • plan to make it scale

College of W&M

  • Internal vs External
  • Are you in?

By this point, W&M project manager had made 63 personal visits across campus – not phone calls, not emails.  Started with stakeholders that promised to be the hardest to satisfy.

Provost was the “champion” of the project.  Champion does not need to be incredibly involved, but is critical to keep the project moving when authority or heat needs to be turned up – or decisions need to be made despite division in the community.

Phase III – Content Creation:


  • What exists? What needs to be recreated?
  • Who produces it? Who reviews it?
  • Settle on key messages, feature banks
  • Strike the right tone

College of William & Mary

  • IA and copy (who? and how?)
  • Editorial review

Previous redesign had been done in a vacuum – everything about it from IA up was “off.” Did lots of internal communication: IA is not your org chart.  25 meetings about the academics section of the website! My experience: IA meetings are long, and painful, and circular but always worth it.  Stakeholders know the content and audience best, always include them even though its painful.

Reviewers: Sent entire sections of site content to volunteer reviewers (tens of faculty members). Many didn’t have time, many provided incredible feedback.  Content was reviewed by people from other sections as well as the section.

mStoner: IA should look about 75% exactly like every other college.  There are sections and labels that users are looking for.  i.e. about, admissions, news.  W&M chose to elevate research.

Phase IV – Design + Testing


  • create a spectrum of design concepts
  • survey designs with target audience
  • build an entire template suite
  • test chosen concept with real users


  • beware of monsters (combining elements from multiple designs)
  • feedback not voting
  • big splash is 3 not 1 (unveiling possibilities was bigger deal than the final decision)

mStoner: important to create a spectrum of design concepts.  Something that is too boring, something that is too edgy, something that is too touchy feely, something that is too cold.  This helps gravitate the community around whichever one feels right.  Online design surveys of thousands of potential students asking them how the designs they feel,what they say.  Then on campus focus groups & interviews – students, faculty, staff, anyone that wants to talk.

Stakeholders are always waiting for pictures.

W&M pulled together a group of people on campus that had professional experience with design.  W&M was very careful to make sure that people knew they were providing feedback, not voting.  Before beginning discussion, gave each participant a piece of paper with questions and had them write down feedback – once the conversation begins, they will be biased/silenced/volumized.

Design possibilities were unveiled on project blog, as well as to Facebook supporters.

Wanted to get feedback on what felt right, what felt wrong?

Audience navigation very subtle – sent out internal communication that there were special areas for each audience – to soften blow of a sudden, drastic change to current navigation.

Phase V – Tech Specifications


  • Create a short-list of CMS options
  • Identify/select CMS
  • Develop functional specifications based on designs
  • Code HTML templates, CSS files


  • Show & Tell
  • Demo the two best

W&M shared CMS feature lists and design specifications with anyone that asked – found this effective.  Most people took a step back and accepted that team knew what they were doing.

Had mStoner demo two different systems to about 100 people! Wrote a script of what they wanted mStoner to show.  Important to not have the vendor run the demo.

Global Image – mStoner’s technical partner – helped with the implementation of Cascade.

Phase VI – Implementation + Launch


  • implement templates and features in CMS
  • Tie-in additional systems
  • Test functionality in an array of browsers
  • Configure users, roles, workflows
  • Conduct necessary training


  • Stop communicating
  • Command central

“You can’t have big red text.  And you can’t make things flash.  The price you pay for a beautiful award winning site, and functionality being added & improved every day, is that you have to give up some control.” rough quote – very well said.

W&M’s website now sits with IT and its suggested that this should have been the case long before now.  I wonder why? Where does the web sit at your institution? Media/Public Relations? IT? Web Comms as its own world? Perfect world: I would have the last option, but at best that is a future goal (for me).

Learn More

#pclo09 / Podcamp London ’09

Posted by on Apr 27, 2009 in conference, marketing

Thank you – to @billdeys and @titusferguson and everyone else that worked on this fantastic event!  About 120 people packed three presentation rooms all day Saturday, despite the fact that it was one of the nicest sun days so far this year.  This past week has been incredible for me – first the IABC panel on social media and then Podcamp – two major social media events, and another coming up next Tuesday, right here in London, Ontario.  A year ago, I gave a social media talk at a broader event downtown at the Hilton, and was approached afterwards for referrals for a new PR 2.0 instructor position at McMaster – and I have no one to give.  I had my higher ed contacts across the country and the US, but for the life of me I could not put my finger on anyone in Southwestern Ontario – after this weekend, its clear that the community of social web and new media professionals has bloomed into an incredibly healthy community.

The two presentations with the most take-home for me were …

Improving Your Photography (for less than you paid to be here).

by Jason Fredin

This was a great presentation – Jason is a clear speaker and gave a lot of advice that I’ve already been playing around with.  He teaches photography courses at henry’s on Thursdays and Fridays that I might check out 🙂

  • While he didn’t quite say “Megapixels, more like Mega-smixels,” he prooved a similar point with photos taken on cell phones, video cameras, 4.0MP point and shoots and a 12MP SLR.  Unless you are doing print design, megapixels really aren’t going to hurt your work there is almost no visible difference between 4 and 12 megapixels. Check out flickr’s index of photos taken on a Morotola Razr.
  • “Better cameras don’t make better photographers”
  • Take the time to know your camera
  • Exposure compensation: Use to bring out whites (+), or to see through dim lighting (-).
  • White balance: Most cameras have automatic white balance but they do not always get it right – explore the different settings such as Indoors, Flourescent.
  • Try turning off your flash
  • In harsh light, force the flash to get into shadows (under eyes, under nose, under a hat)
  • Use a tripod – buy one that is light enough to take with you
  • String monopod – put screw into camera with string attached. Drop other end of string (weighted), then step on it to pull tight.  Resistance will brace your camera when no tripod is available.
  • Fill the frame
  • Buy a tripod that is large enough for your camera.

Ten Tips for eBay:

  • Turn off flash
  • Use a tripod
  • Turn the product on – show it working
  • Simplify i.e. use white posterboard as backdrop
  • Get a better angle – use double sided tape and small props
  • Ghetto lightbox – make your own lightbox with a cardboard box, white paper
  • Adjust exposure and white balance

Ethics in Social Media

Presented by Dave Fleet.

Description: Ghost blogging. Astroturfing. Sock puppets. Wikipedia pages. Each of these new areas brings new ethical concerns and dilemmas. We’ll take a spin through these quandries to try to find an answer to them.

Dave was a fantastic speaker and has amazing passion for the topic (and the provoking discussion that came out of it between PR and journalism).

Some of his points:

  • Use common sense – if you would not want it on the front page of the newspaper, don’t do it
  • You are what google says you are, everything you do online lives on on other peoples sites
  • Nothing you do online is anonymous – ip address.
  • We have to change the image of pr, from the shady guy in a fedora [to a credible information source.]
  • -Lists organizations that have edited their own stuff don’t change your own wikipedia – but what if it is wrong?

Seriously, what if it’s wrong? How to you fix misinformation on your brand’s wikipedia entry?

  • Suggest changes via discussion page
  • Maintain neutral pointt of view when contributing
  • Follow the established process for getting your organization on wikipedia, if it is not already there
  • Don’t attack others

Ghost blogging

Dave pointed out that ghosting has been done in Public Relations for years – it’s no new thing.  Speeches, letters to the editor, even email, are often written by PR staff.  When reading online content, users have a higher expectation for it to be written by the named author – not a PR screen.  No one is forcing them to blog – it’s a choice.

Kanye West caught by the police and the blogosphere in the same day:

Kanye has a very prolific blog with a huge readership.  It becomes suggested that he doesn’t have time for the amount of content being produced and perhaps he has ghost writers – which he violently denies. Later, he is arrested at 8am but then a blog post goes live at 8:10am.  Was his mistake getting caught? Was it denying ghost writers from the start? The fact that Kanye West does not write his own blog may not matter to me or Dave or anyone at the conference, however, it mattered to the Kanye fans that thought they were reading the artists original thoughts.  If you don’t have time to write your own blogs – why are you blogging? Choose a tool that fits you – possibly twitter (shorter, less formal).

What if we find out that @Oprah is ghostwritten? 40 million middle aged women would be sad – because they joined to get close to her. Twitter is about personal thoughts.
It’s not just the emotional crush but also breaking unspoken rules of authenticity and transparency – but Kanye fans don’t know about these ethics – they are just ‘betrayed’

Dave pointed that out that if the editor/dean does not have time to blog – why does it have to be the editor – why not the guy that has time? Why not a group of people. Kanye was an issue of narcissism – he wants to be the blogger even though he is not.

Social/online media show that betrayal does happen – people will start to wonder if traditional media are credible either?

Guest blogger vs ghost blogger – Guest bloggers are fine – as long as it is labelled.  Even advertorials would be ok if it was done transparently.

Group blogs are a great tool for orgs, share the load across several writers.


Fake grassroots/Faking a grassroots community – i.e. wal-marting across the country. “Walmart enthusiasts” set out on a cross-country roadtrip, sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots at each stop.  They were outed as journalists. These mistakes are what leads to the sleazy spin doctor image that hurts all of us.

Isn’t the nature of pr to be deceptive? Present your product positively.

A PR instructor from Fanshawe College piped up: Writing, ethics are two key components of Public Relations. Tell the right truth to the right as many ppl as possible. Sometimes PR professionals have to say no to a client that wants something unethical – decision between money and ethics. Same as a journalist covering paris hilton in jail.  Is this a little white lie to a small number of ppl, or is it something that will lose you your other clients.

This talk reminded me of some thought I’ve been giving to the different approaches to social web and new media – the same way there are two rough approaches to public relations.  PR professionals can genuinely care about ethics – reaching as many people as possible with the right content at the right time.  There are others (mostly sleazy guys in a fedoras), who will spin anything in order to get coverage – potentially at the loss of other clients.

Again it was a great weekend – I will be posting the slides from my talk “Hitch a Ride: Mobile Marketing” soon – I just have to add some voice as the slides themselves are mostly screenshots rather than points.

Learn More