University of Vermont

UVM Self-help Web Guide

Effectively using the UVM News Tool

We've seen many people shy away from publishing "news" because they think they don't have time to write lengthy news articles about their department. Read on — the most effective Web content is short and sweet, and that's a perfectly appropriate way to approach using the News Tool.

Using the tool to publicize quick bites of departmental news

People often come to the Web Team frustrated with the amount of information they need to "get on the homepage" when there is limited space to use. Student awards, visiting professors, a departmental job search, all of these items might beg only several sentences or a list and a photo. In this scenario, if the department has a news feed on their homepage (learn how), they can then publish small news items that are homepage-worthy and they will be given a rotation on their homepage under "News and Events" (or whatever said department has named it).

Using the tool to revamp your website as a powerful marketing tool

There's an notion in Web content management that you can get people to pay more attention to your website and to return by using their "care words" in your content. How to manage this on a university department website:

  • You have the all-important task of first knowing who your audience is. If you're an academic department, consider current students as well as prospective students.
  • Current students will want to know what's happening now in the department. From career workshops to internship opportunities to gatherings, trips and more... sit down and make a list of five topics current students care about in your department.
  • Prospective students will want to know about outcomes--did a new graduate land a great job? Is there a class that's talked about as particularly rewarding? Are there research opportunities for undergraduates? Sit down and make a list of five topics a prospective student might care about in your department.
  • You now have 10 words or phrases that are your readers' care words-- from "undergraduate research" to "jobs" to "awards." Paste these somewhere visible and when you hear about one of them, consider writing a short story in the News Tool. The story could have a powerful headline that just puts a bit of information--and thus--customer care--out into the Web universe. Read on for how-to....

How to write that short and powerful headline and story

Don't be afraid to try writing something short and sweet. To do so successfully, practice the five W's (plus an H): Who, What, Where, When, Why Throwing in a little "How" is a nice touch, too. An example:

Sophomore earns rewarding and coveted summer job (headline that grabs the attention of someone visiting who may not know anything about the job or your department)

Rose Smith, a second-year English major (who) will put her skills to work this summer (when) at National Geographic working as an intern in the research department (what and where). NG's headquarters in Washington, D.C. will be Smith's summer stomping grounds while she works alongside some of the best research gatherers in the world fact-checking and doing any other small jobs needed (more where). "I love writing and research is part of that," says Smith. "I'm really honored to be a part of National Geographic this summer and I hope it will serve as great experience, not to mention a strong resume builder if I do well!" (why). Professor Bill Allen put Smith in touch with a researcher he knows at NG--he said he thought Smith's writing skills would prove an asset to the NG summer team (how).

A photo of Rose might be a nice touch here if you have one.

Publish your story and you're done! A website that has something fresh and new on the homepage--and it caters to your audiences. Current students will love to see one of them profiled and prospectives will be aware of the opportunities available to students at UVM.

Last modified September 13 2011 01:06 PM