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Public Relations and Marketing

NCPTT’s Public Relations and Marketing program establishes the Center’s relevance to its stakeholders by using a full range of media to project a consistent, unified brand throughout its programs and research initiatives.

During Fiscal Year 2008, NCPTT advanced its web communication efforts through the use of social media. The term social media refers to the new generation of online tools that engender free communication and thought among people of similar interests regardless of their location. Because NCPTT’s budget has remained flat since its inception, traditional print and advertising media have been too expensive and exclusive in reaching its targeted audiences. Social media have the potential to reach these audiences with free services that attract large audiences. Program highlights include:

  • Producing the web’s first netcast incorporating Web 2.0 principles with the production values of the six o’clock news.
  • Creating an interoffice Friendfeed account, allowing open discussion of preservation news and topics of relevance to the Center and its programs.
  • Creating a NCPTT wiki that provides encyclopedic information on the Center’s history.
  • Starting a NCPTT “preservation technology” podcast
  • Implementing marketing efforts for NCPTT workshops
  • Meeting with departments over the summer about methods for adoption social media
  • Creating interim WordPress newsroom online to disseminate the Center’s press releases

Jeff Guin, NCPTT’s marketing manager teaches in the Department of Journalism at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. This “social experiment” was conceived in part to help his students understand the evolving nature of newsgathering while raising the profiles of NSU and NCPTT. Guin also mentors the students in running an independent shownotes website. NSU provides the studio at no cost and production is done by volunteers.

Friendfeed: sophisticated information sharing for NCPTT

As the social web evolves, blogs are becoming dated as a method to share information. At the same time, people are finding their online activities hard to manage. Lifestreaming applications enable a web user to incorporate all of their online activities on one page. Services like Friendfeed are replacing blogs, wikis, and discussion boards as more people become aware of them. NCPTT now has a Friendfeed “room” incorporated into its intranet. Using a bookmarklet in a browser toolbar, the staff and other room members can share web pages and provide commentary on the content. Other people can subscribe to the feed, then jump in, add their responses and share related links too. Since it’s effortless to post/comment, the Center has an opportunity to build a community quickly around this content.

NCPTT wiki: Encyclopedic Reference on the Center’s history

Early in its history, NCPTT encountered a significant amount of staff turnover. This created difficulties in maintaining an institutional memory regarding the Center’s formation, research and operating procedures. The NCPTT wiki developed over the summer to become a repository for the Center’s historical record. Contents include programmatic overviews and a complete list of grants funded since NCPTT’s inception, along with related links from other areas of the web. The wiki is functional, though still in draft form.

NCPTT “preservation technology” podcast

NCPTT has a lot of stories to tell beyond strict discussion of its research. The “Preservation Technology Podcast” is the Center’s medium to communicate both the personal and professional aspects of its research and people. The first podcast featured Jason Church of the Materials Research Program talking about how he came to love cemeteries as a fourth-grade student and how that led to a passion for preserving grave markers today. Future podcasts will feature Kirk Cordell, NCPTT’s executive director, as well as PTT Grants researchers and PTT Board members. The Preservation Technology podcast is available on iTunes.

NCPTT Social Media Toolbox

NCPTT uses numerous tactics when communicating on the social web. Here are the tools on which the Center currently focuses:

Facebook is quickly becoming the web’s top social networking site. The Center now has a page that updates the Facebook community on its activities.

One of NCPTT’s major challenges has been in the management of images. In the past, images were spread about the organization’s server space, often never to be seen again. This has changed with the Center’s subscription to Flickr, an online photo sharing service. Photos can be tagged with keywords and organized into “sets” for easy recall. While the service helps us find our own images, others find them as well. Images from NCPTT’s photo stream have been used in several regional and national magazines over the past year.

Likewise, NCPTT has been using the ever-popular YouTube to distribute its preservation videos to a larger audience. The Center’s YouTube channel includes training videos, promotional video for workshops, and even an “overview” video describing how the organization functions.

On Twitter, NCPTT provides brief “headlines” of its activities to its growing number of followers. Twitter is a “microblogging” service that allows messages to be broadcast, so long as they consist of fewer than 140 characters.

Several titles on social media have been added to the NCPTT library.

Implementing marketing efforts for NCPTT workshops

With so much time invested in social media efforts, one would think that NCPTT’s training programs would suffer from inattention. However, the FY 2008 workshops were the most successful in the Center’s history. Part of their success stems from improved location strategy or tapping unmet needs. But part of this success also owes to more skillful marketing online using social media tools. Using the social networking tool Ning, departments were able to gather potential participants into a social network that allowed open discussion about topics related to the workshops. This allowed staff to essentially create “focus groups” for their events and tailor training to the needs of the participants. It also served to create a buzz around the training workshops. As a result, most of NCPTT’s training programs enjoyed capacity or near-capacity participation.

Meeting with NCPTT programs over the summer about methods for adoption social media

While social media is noted for its openness, organizations and individuals must take care to craft their image online. After all, content that goes on the web may be “out there” somewhere as long as the human race endures. The marketing manager met with programs over the summer to inform personnel about the basics of blogging, net etiquette and media sharing. These meetings were also opportunities of identify premium content from each department that should go online first as the Center introduces its redesigned “WordPress” website. A baseline survey was also taken to measure NCPTT employees comfort level with the web and social media tools. Once the NCPTT WordPress site is functional (along with its integrated analytics tools), employees will be able to engage with blogging more fully. Additional social media tools will be implemented into the site and an additional “stakeholder” survey disseminated among NCPTT’s publics. In the next year, NCPTT will host professional development for its staff with social media experts.

Creating interim WordPress newsroom online to disseminate the Center’s press releases

One of the marketing manager’s goals for the redesign of the Center’s new website is to incorporate a social media newsroom function that reflects the model created by SHIFT Communications. The social media newsroom serves as a place for press releases and related media, presented in a format that the press can easily use. In preparation for the NCPTT WordPress site, the marketing manager has experimented with incorporating elements of the SHIFT model using a free WordPress.com site. The content of this site will be easily imported into the Center’s new WordPress site.

Submitted by Jeff Guin

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