We’re starting to talk about content.

Why content?

For years universities have succeeded, almost by default. Young people wish to continue their education and going to university is the default choice.

Today though, as with many other industries, higher education is in the process of being disrupted by new, innovative ways of continuing education. From remote learning to open online courses, the traditional on-campus university faces more competition than ever to attract students to their campuses.

The way a university positions itself to staff, students and the outside world can be a big factor in how effective its student, staff and business recruitment campaigns are – and content plays a pivotal role in this.

What is a content strategy?

My favourite definition of content strategy is:

“planning for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable, on-brand content”.

It’s how our University talks as a whole, and how we can harness the intelligence, leadership and thinking of the entire University, including you, to create and contribute to the content we provide externally to our prospective customers.

What are we doing about it?

Two weeks ago, in early October, members of the project team ran a series of content strategy workshops to help us think through what content really means to the University, how we can become more effective and efficient at creation and publication of content and how we can empower the wider organisation to contribute.

The workshops we ran were:

  • Content strategy mapping – building a roadmap
  • Content modelling – modelling the various types of content we produce
  • Measuring content – how can we measure the effectiveness of our content
  • Workflows and governance – how can we empower the wider organisation to contribute
Project team using sticky notes to identify content and manage content maturity
Project team working on how to identify content and manage content maturity

One output of these workshops was a content compass – a statement which helps us make decisions on what content we produce and whether it’s doing its job.

Ours is still in draft but here is what we have as our current statement:

Our content must help users be confident in the University of Derby and our expertise, discover information relevant to their interests and get excited about working with us.

To do this we must provide content that is impactful, accurate and emotive.

This content will make users feel engaged, inspired and confident making them more likely to engage with us or invest in their future with us and share our content.

This will help us raise our profile and reputation, improve the quality of applicants and ultimately, meet our targets.

If you’re interested in further outputs of the content strategy workshops, they’ll be shared over the coming weeks and months, but you can contact me directly if you’d like to get an early look.

What happens next?

We’ve now got a 12-18 month roadmap to implement which will take us from where we are now in our content maturity to a much stronger position.

Here are some of the things you can expect to start seeing:

  • Brand and tone of voice guidelines
  • Content creation and copywriting training
  • Simplified and clear workflows for content creation
  • A toolkit for researching, writing and evaluating your content
  • Content ambassadors to support you and your teams.

As you can imagine we’ll need your support to make this succeed and we’re looking for people to be part of our content work group to help make our plan a reality. Keep an eye out for more information on how to get involved.

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