Take a cue from community news and spotlight love on campus this Valentine’s Day.
In my hometown, there are two newspapers: the local paper and the free community paper.
With a small-town population you might be wondering why we have two papers—especially in the digital age. And more importantly, what’s the difference?
Well, the local paper is modeled in the style of classic journalism, reporting on news and events that affect residents—both positive and negative. But the community paper acts like a professional scrapbook for our town, allowing residents to submit the small triumphs that are big highlights of their lives.
Both papers are necessary. One has a duty to deliver relevant stories and information while the other is committed solely to human interest stories that connect people in our town.
What do newspapers that have to do with university content strategy?
The lesson is simple. University websites—and more largely your content—should function like both papers, capturing the “slice of life” stories that engage your communities AND delivering the information that will help people be more informed and productive.
A Lesson for Universities
Colleges and universities have understood the news function of their websites for years now, most notably adopting inbound blogs that showcase timely relevant content for students, faculty, alumni, staff and parents. Only a few universities have truly captured and owned the tangible, human stories that make people stop and engage.
First, it’s a tricky business. Developing content that resonates requires a deep understanding of your community—their motivations, their challenges and more importantly their perception of how the university should add value to their lives.
Second, it takes time. Branded content has an emotional edge. Investing in content strategy requires expertise in story that translates to a digital experience, whether utilizing livestream video, podcasting, gifs or other tools of modern storytelling.
Third, it’s difficult to stay consistent. News generates itself because as things change, it is normal and necessary to offer resources and information to help people respond. However, human interest content needs authenticity and creativity to connect with audiences. To continue to create relevant creative content, your strategists, writers and designers need to be deeply committed to your mission, vision and values and how they connect with real people in your community.
Universities Who Know Community Content
Those colleges and universities who have managed to tackle creative storytelling know that the community is their biggest resource. From innovative Holiday Cards to Valentine’s Day, many universities are capturing their university brand stories through community content.
Check out three schools who have leveraged the voices of their community to create distinct and compelling content for Valentine’s Day.
- Boston University, “Love and Marriage BU Style”
This blog transcends time to bring stories of love that all began on BU’s campus. The striking editorial photography and unique stories showcase individual voices.
- Vanderbilt University, “#ILoveVU Because _____”
The diversity of the campus community is on display on this post which asks students to share why they love Vanderbilt while also sharing images of the campus community in action.
- University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, “Meet at the Eternal Flame”
The “Eternal flame” is a U of I campus landmark that was a gift to the college in 1912. The campus legend says that couples who kiss beneath it will have eternal bliss. This post asks the university community to add their unique stories to school’s history and traditions.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Converge! For more tips on Content Strategy, check out our Content Strategy Starter Kit.