As you think about ways to engage the public from a distance, there’s new visual features on the website to try out. If you need quick ideas to fill out your newsletters, then a tool coming soon will give you ready-to-go content teasers and photos to use. Finally, we give a few tips about sharing coronavirus updates and content on the website.

New tools to try out for digital delivery of information

You often get asked how to identify a plant, a spider or many other things that people encounter in their homes or fields. Or how to build a raised bed or landscape wall. Content teams that need to share identification photos and descriptions, or step by step instructions, can do so in the new virtual “educational gallery” content type.

Learn more about how to set up an educational gallery in our web guide.

If what you need to share is more text than visual-based, then programs and projects also have the option to add collapsible page sections to their subpages. This helps people see the process at a glance, and expand to read more.

Here’s information in our web guide on how to add page sections.

In the coming weeks, our outreach may rely on our social media and newsletters for ways to engage with and deliver information to our communities. If you postpone or cancel an event, maybe there’s some good content online on the same topic to share in the meantime. When you log in to the Extension website, you will soon be able to access a “content bank”.

This will be an easy way to find existing web or video content that meets a need (e.g. blueberries is the top search on our site this week), and be able to download a photo, URL and short blurb you can share. This directs people to read the full article online.

Once this is ready, the content bank will be found on your My Groups page when logged in.

Also, check out the Virtual Extension webpage for other ideas. It is a growing resource! EESC will continue to solicit from across Extension more shareable content and engagement suggestions to share on this page. We’ll also continue to add tutorials, such as on how to do a video from your smartphone or set up Facebook Live, and the best situations to use those tools.

Adding web updates related to COVID-19

An emergency announcement appears in red across the top of Extension website pages to let the public know of recent decisions.

If you have specific updates for your county or program, then you can add a regular announcement that will show in an orange bar across your page. Make the title specific, so when people search the site the announcements are distinguishable.

Your county pages office hours now indicate that offices are not open to public traffic but that you can be reached via phone or email during regular business hours.

On event pages, you have a standard COVID-19 statement too that you can change as you know more about if the event will be postponed, canceled or done virtually.

The homepage directs people to the CDC fact sheets on handwashing and other important information in English and Spanish. If content teams add videos, web articles, or online resources from other places on hand-washing and topics related to Extension’s work, please select the keyword “COVID-19” so it can be compiled in searches. We may add a new tag, collection page or other ways to gather the information down the road.

You can always contact us through our beav.es/extension-support request system if you have a question along the way.

We write so that others will read.

No matter what we write — an email, a newsletter article, a research paper — we want people to read it and understand.

The key to understanding isn’t some complex formula. It’s actually quite simple: a form of writing called “plain language.” Plain language conveys meaning in short, spare sentences and simple words. Plain language is:

  • Accessible. Plain language helps us reach everyone, including people with learning or other disabilities, people whose first language is not English, and people who may be reading online while feeding a toddler and waiting on hold with the cable company.
  • Active. In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action: “The mouse ate the cookie,” not “it is believed the cookie was consumed by the mouse.”
  • The law. Government agencies like the IRS and the state of Oregon have adopted plain language guidelines. OSU websites should follow web accessibility guidelines, including those on readability.

There’s an app for that

Oddly, it’s hard to write simply.

Thankfully, some great new tools can help us measure and improve the readability of our text. One we like is called Hemingway Editor.

Start with a rough draft. Call up Hemingway in your browser, and copy and paste your text into the home screen. You’ll see a screen like this:

Zero in on the figure that denotes the reading level of your text. If it’s ninth grade or higher, start working your way up the Hemingway rainbow:

  • Clean up everything in light red. Cut unnecessary words. Divide complex sentences in two. Sub in some active verbs.
  • After pink, tackle yellow.
  • Re-check the reading level. Is it lower? Good job.
  • If the reading level is nine or above, keep working. Most audiences — including academics — prefer to read at an eighth grade level or below. Great writers like Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and J.R.R. Tolkien all wrote at the seventh grade level or below.

Make reading easy

Many readers today don’t read but instead scan written material. They’re looking for solutions in a hurry. Here are some ways to help these readers out:

  • Avoid long paragraphs. Long blocks of gray text turn readers off. Limit your paragraphs to one topic — about three sentences.
  • Use bulleted lists instead of long sentences filled with commas.
  • Use bold-faced lead-ins and subheads to help readers scan your text to find what they are looking for.
  • Read it out aloud. Before turning in anything to an editor or colleague, read it out aloud. You’ll be surprised how many awkward phrases you’ll find to revise.

Writing is hard, but reading doesn’t have to be. Use the tools of plain language to tell your story, and your readers will thank you.

Editor’s note: This article is written at a fifth-grade level.

More blog posts to come:

  • Science writing simplified: improving the readability of complex topics
  • The ABCs of acronyms
  • Tempting titles that click with readers

Authors: Janet Donnelly and Jim Sloan

In Extension we work in a variety of fields and with many great folks all over Oregon and worldwide. If you’re looking to reach people where they are at, video is an excellent medium to consider. YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine(1), and an excellent way to reach 18-49 year-olds. 80-90% of that age range uses YouTube monthly(2)!

With all of these billions of questions being asked on a regular basis, we need some help to find out what those questions are and how to best address them. We are regularly looking at the analytics from our Extension YouTube channel to harness our past data to help inform a better future.

Knowing how people search

If you’re curious about what the world is looking and searching for check out Google Trends. This is a great place to start when thinking about creating a video. You can break things down by region, look at related terms or topics, view seasonal popularity, and more. It’s useful to think about the terms that your audience will be using and not what you might use in academia.

Here are some of the search terms that have brought viewers to our YouTube channel recently:

 

  • Blue: how to get rid of moss in your lawn (and other variations)
  • Light Green: insect collection (and other variations)
  • Purple: plant pathology (and other variations), quinoa (and other variations)
  • Dark Green: small farm (and other variations)

All of these are terms and phrases used to search on YouTube. These are just for videos we currently have, there are many search terms where we have either no videos or we could use something more recent. Consider entering some search terms your audience would be looking for into YouTube, Google, or Google Trends. You very well could find some gaps in relevant content or perhaps a topic that needs refreshing.

Some of the most popular uses of video, in the case of YouTube, is for How-Tos and trying understand the world or products(3). This is right in Extension’s wheelhouse! Here are some videos that are currently harnessing curiosity well on YouTube:

From left to right:

  • Pinning Butterflies and Moths,
  • How to Identify a Plant or Weed
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Collecting Insects: Tools and Supplies
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • Using A Plant Press.

All of these were in the top 12 for views in 2019, and as you’ll see below they are also some of the best at holding the audience’s attention.

Holding the audience’s attention

Think about your current audience. What are the questions that are being asked on a regular basis? What kinds of skills or procedures could you show through video?

While explaining the research and science behind topics are great, most viewers are looking for a solution to a problem. Get to the point and then explain the reason behind the solution. Looking for the “I-want-to-do ___” moments in your area of expertise is a great place to start.

We use the Audience Retention metric to see how a video is doing at getting to the point and meeting the viewer’s needs. Views tend to have a steep drop-off after the beginning. It’s important to hook the viewer in right away and prove that the video will meet their expectations. The first 15 seconds are the most crucial. These videos are doing well at holding viewers’ attention:

From left to right:

  • Scotch Broom Removal
  • Income Opportunities from Logs
  • How to Make a Trap to Catch the Spotted Wing Drosophila Fly
  • Sampling for Varroa Mites from a Honey Bee Brood Nest
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • How to sample a lot of hay
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Managing Moss in Lawns.

All of these have over 60% viewer retention (very good), and you’ll notice that each one does a good job at directly addressing a problem or showing how to do something.

Audience Retention is also important for another reason: Google uses this in their algorithm when showing related videos at the end of a video. Having a high retention rate increases your chances of showing up in viewers’ feeds.

How to approach creating your video

Video is an amazing tool at reaching audiences, but because it is so widely used, it’s important to approach creating a video with a strategic plan otherwise you risk being drowned out. Here are some questions to ask if you’re thinking of getting into video:

  • Who is my audience (both existing ones and new ones you hope to attract)?
  • What kinds of questions are you hearing regularly, and what does data from sources like Google Trends say about your topic?
  • Do any of these questions work well as a How-To or to help someone in that “I-want-to-do ___” moment?
  • Is this a topic that can be shown well visually?

Something else to consider is to use YouTube as a social media platform. If you are willing to check the comments and to make your video interactive, it can be a good space to have conversation and address other questions that might come up. These interactions can also inspire future video topics.

Author: Stephen Ward

 

(1) 54 Fascinating and Incredible YouTube Statistics

(2) The latest video trends: Where your audience is watching

(3) Many Turn to YouTube for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons

Occasionally, we still hear from Extension faculty or staff worried about people not being able to find things on the website. Extension does have a lot of content on the site, and we do care what audiences think. This year EESC will continue our work on website usability and use analytics to help improve the visitor experience. Yet, the design solutions may not be what you thought, and focusing on content may be a better approach.

Where you can worry less: the changing design trends

Forget the “three-click rule.” The idea that web visitors will get frustrated if they have to click more than three times to find a piece of content has been around for the last couple of decades. Logically, it makes sense, but how many times they click doesn’t matter(1) and can make for unruly menus. What matters is each time they click, the page should deliver something to get them closer to an intended goal.

Also, our home page isn’t as important as you think. Visitors to our website are less likely to land on our home page than in the past – approximately 3% of visitors. This is a common trend happening across all websites. Search engines and social media are a big factor, as they will link to whatever page is relevant on our site. People go to a page of interest and don’t see the homepage.

A greater focus on organized, well-titled content and landing pages (vs. home page and navigation) can give you more visitor retention opportunities.

What to focus on: the content most asked for or that meets your goals

Give people the good stuff upfront when it comes to landing pages. What do they often ask about? Feature it prominently anywhere on the page, and then direct them to related content that may be less intriguing but still critical information. EESC can work with you on how to surface these top tasks.

One Nielsen Norman Group study(2) found that, like general web readers, the professionals we serve want content easy to scan and digest. They differ in that most are looking for detailed facts, verifying the credibility, and comparing data or related findings. Overstating outcomes or having out-of-date content diminishes credibility.

Two types of information particularly attract their attention:

  1. New information that they haven’t considered or heard of
  2. Contradictory information that is contrary to their existing knowledge or beliefs

This may be one reason a web article, Branding: OSU working to settle the debate of the ages, surpassed others in the high number of pageviews recently.

Do you have emerging research to share on a long-standing issue or trending topic? Share with your content team to get their input and then add as an article online. Web visitors can leave you feedback on the article, and then you could potentially develop the article further into a catalog publication or journal submission.

After reading these popular articles on the Extension website, the majority of people then leave the site. What action would you want visitors to take or what could they read next to further their engagement? How can we work together to improve that?

If you find when looking at the new analytics dashboards that a piece of your content does not reach people as hoped, then let’s look into it. What can we try with the content or on the landing pages, or in the promotion of it, to help? Also, assess your goals (e.g. attracting new participants) and ask how your online content can help to better meet them.

These actions keep content, and the related strategy, at the center of what we should be worrying about on the website, and helps us to better support people in our online communities.

 


Extension website updates

Are people still having trouble finding information online? Tell us on our beav.es/extension-support form (click the last option).

Newsletters now have a button link that goes to a “past issues” page, so the list on the main page only shows the 6 most recent issues. This will happen automatically once you reach more than six back issues.

Want to see who all the members are of a specific content team? What about contacting all web group leaders, or reaching out to a specific member of your web group? You will be able to do this now through the content management system when logged into the website. Just look for the link to this on your My Groups page.


(1) The Three-Click Rule for Navigation is False, Nielsen Norman Group 2019

(2) Writing Digital Copy for Domain Audiences Nielsen Norman Group 2017

“There are clear champions related to the digital strategy,” said Anita Azarenko at a quarterly conversation last summer. “Is there a way to capture that enthusiasm, that energy, to help the web and content strategy team help others? I’m not saying put more on your plate because some of you are already doing this, but how can you help others make this transition?”

At our Extension annual conference in December, our web team saw some champions at work. We observed Extension faculty coaching colleagues on producing peer-reviewed educational content. We heard people talking about how topic pages or journey maps function. And we had full rooms of people at our sessions hoping to learn more and get their questions answered.

We also want to recognize the 50 people who were most active in 2019 to keep the content current. They dove in and put things into the new content management system, so it could show up on the Extension website. Thank you!

Looking forward

As we start the new year, we will look for champions who share their best practices or how-to tips with others. Or, implement new processes as a team. Here are 3 ways you can contribute in 2020 to helping your colleagues:

  1. Convene your group or team to put together a content calendar or make decisions about recurring questions
  2. Subscribe to these blog posts to stay up to date, and share as a regular agenda item at your future meetings
  3. Join others to present a peer-based training or contribute your thoughts in a Navigator blog post

Jen Holt, who coordinates Oregon Master Beekeeper and Oregon Bee Atlas programs, shared her experiences with the transition.

“At first, I was a slightly unwilling participant. I had an established program with an existing website that had served us well for many years,” she explained during the Extension annual conference.

“Yet, once I got started I grew in my understanding and use of the new Extension website. I have been using this website for a year now, and the finished product greatly exceeds what we were using in the past.”

She admits the hardest part is learning the terminology, but that the help docs can be your friend. She likes that new pathways of involvement are now available online:

  • The interactive features for the general public to have their questions answered
  • The ability to highlight a list of their publications and events based on tags
  • A way to tie into the larger OSU and Extension community.

View her slides and notes for her presentation.

Would you like to share your experiences in a future blog post? Contact us to let us know.

Roundup of Web Updates during 2019

If you missed out on reading the posts last year or want a recap, this roundup will get you on track with what we did:
  • Launched new designs for county landing pages, local focus areas and the Extension homepage. We also made it easier to show different style formats.
  • Added many new tools groups can see when logged into the site. You can now see feedback from visitors and analytics dashboards to show their activity. Also, review any revisions notes from EESC copyediting.
  • Answered over 600 support requests from Extension faculty and staff throughout the past year. As a result, we made many iterative changes to existing features to make the site work for different situations.
  • Hired a new Salesforce programmer who has met with different groups. He shared how this new constituent relationship management system can apply to Extension’s work in the future.
  • Held trainings around the state, and taught how to use OSU tools like Box or Beav.es for file and link management. We also created new how-to videos to familiarize you with the website.
  • Outlined everyone’s content management roles, and how to count your web activities in Digital Measures. We also integrated your awards and publications from Digital Measures into your profiles.
  • Shared tips on sprucing up newsletters or catching the attention of web visitors. We also added tools or data-informed recommendations for improving content’s readability, accessibility and findability online.

A trip to the apple orchard this past weekend led to rows of trees available for picking. Fallen apples lay scattered across the ground; low branches held a few ripe pieces in easy reach. This season, the website content is in a similar situation. Fallen apples represent the bushels of content that need to be cleaned up. The low hanging fruit is a handful of easy tasks to get started on.

If we want our visitors engaged and involved with Extension, then we have to be active too in providing relevant and current resources. If our online content becomes outdated, such as an article with crop statistics from 2002, then potential clients may begin to wonder about our advice. It’s easy enough to update, or leave out, time-dated information if it’s not essential to the article.

Updating your web content maintains trust and loyalty with Extension’s audiences. It also helps search engine optimization and builds the confidence of new visitors about our authority on the topics.

Cleaning the content

A year ago, the majority of archived county and program sites on Drupal 6 sites went away for good. The flurry in putting content on the new website meant some content didn’t get thoroughly reviewed. Others got left in Box unless someone asked for it.

Do you have content that needs a second look? Some of the low hanging tasks could include:

  • Look on your groups page, filter by “events” and archive any old events that no longer need to be visible to the public.
  • Ask EESC for a spreadsheet that shows all content for your group listed by publication date. Then start reviewing the oldest among them. If you’re unsure it’s worth updating, search around to see if there’s content that is similar or think about how it could be repurposed.
  • Look at the the Box files or content in your groups folder marked “draft” to see what could still be reviewed and published.

While you need to look for accuracy and completeness of the content, EESC is contributing to this process too.

  • The publishing team is copyediting your published content. Also, they are adding formatting that helps with website readability. They are currently 20% through all the web articles.
  • The web and content strategy team is fixing broken links and changing published content to correct content types. This mostly means changing educational documents to more accessible articles.
  • The administrative team is tagging catalog publications to improve findability. They are also helping with missing photos or image quality.

You can keep track of what we’re doing by looking at the “Revisions” notes tab of your content when logged in. If there are major changes, then we will email you directly with questions. Learn more in the web guide.

Keeping on top of content’s health is best managed when pruned a little each day over the winter months. Set a maintenance plan, and then come spring your resources will be fresh and ready for new growth. This will make our web visitors very happy.


Web updates

In case you missed it, last week’s blog post shared what Salesforce looks like to someone using it. This can help you in better understanding how a CRM (customer relationship management system) works.

Thank you to all the Extension program area leaders for sharing your goals with EESC in October. This will help inform our communications and content strategy over the next year. Stay tuned!

The website brought a lot of content together from all different parts of Extension, created for different purposes, at different times and sometimes published by non-Extension faculty. Everyone has come across an article or two where they wonder “Is this content accurate, useful information for Extension’s audiences?”

Content teams, along with the program area leaders, have started discussions that can help to shape content quality decisions. Questions touch on process and guiding principles, such as:

  • Should we put everything we write on to the website? If not, how do we decide?
  • Who should be involved in the review process, and at what stage in content publishing?
  • How do we determine what makes for “quality content” for our diverse audiences?

An articulated content strategy helps content teams to identify a roadmap to follow.

Step one: establish ownership and roles

Half of Extension faculty and staff can publish content, which is coordinated through content teams or web groups.

Use the content overview tool to search a content title and see what team or group a piece of content belongs to, and contact the team leader or group coordinator if you see questionable content. Your feedback can help them to see other perspectives and their response inform yours.

Roles and responsibilities, outlined earlier in 2019, clarify how people fit into the content development cycle and their relationships to each other.

Among those roles, teams and groups need to discuss who controls the content quality, holding relevant content authors accountable to content guidelines, standards and policies that will be explored in the next steps.

Step two: design and document content processes

Content may be written by author(s) but it is the content teams and program leaders that need to work together to plan, review, publish, and revise the content. It helps to share a common set of tools and expectations in this content process.

Plan

Statewide planning meetings can set the stage for a participatory process. Together you can review audience analytics and determine the content purpose, gaps to fill, and plans for the year. It can also help decide what content isn’t needed based on strategic priorities. Set up a content planning spreadsheet in Box to keep track of content to be created.

Review

A peer review checkbox and name field appears on all articles if your team wants to use this as part of the publishing process. It currently means at least one other colleague looked at it, but does not mean the same level of scrutiny as catalog and journal peer reviews. Content that is questionable can also be put “in review” by the team or group to keep it from public view until the issue addressed.

Publish

A team needs to decide if they will independently upload articles, appoint an uploader on the team, or find program/research assistants or students to support this. These people need to be aware of the guidelines, standards and policies discussed below. An editorial calendar can help schedule content to be published at key times.

Revise

Many are familiar with the EESC directed process to review and update Extension catalog publications more than four years old. Content team leaders need to coordinate a similar process for their team’s articles and educational documents; EESC can help by setting up automated notifications and maintenance reports to use.

Step three: produce supporting documents and tools

Ground rules for doing content right can help to address differences in opinions. EESC has outlined some key recommendations or requirements below. Content teams and groups can adapt and expand on these to establish what makes for “quality” content.

Guidelines that EESC provides and encourage you to use include:

  • Messaging maps to create consistency of voice and tone depending on the audience
  • AP style and plain language guidelines for standard language and format of content
  • Readability formatting for a web page (which is different than a print publication)

Standards mean there’s a correct way to do things, and an expectation this will be followed, such as:

  • Web instructions of what content goes on the Extension website, and how to enter and tag it in the content management system; see the quick start checklists to make this clear
  • OSU and Extension branding requirements

Since these guidelines and standards can be a lot to learn, EESC will help by reviewing content after it is published and making minor changes or suggestions on how to improve. More information is in the content requirements and best practices section of the web guide, or request a specific training.

Policies are critical to follow to be inclusive, ethical, or not put us at risk, this includes things such as:

  • Copyright rules
  • Non-discrimination and accessibility laws
  • Personal data protections

Information about this is in the legal requirements section of our web guide. Also OSU’s Web and Mobile Services is offering “Accessibility Basics for the Web” trainings, including information about the OSU Policy on Information Technology Accessibility. Offered Oct. 3, Dec. 5, 2019 and Feb. 7, April 15 or June 4, 2020.

Destination

Teams and groups need to keep a pulse on what is going on with their online content and scrutinize not only if it is accurate but also if the overall quality meets our expectations.

Keep those discussions going, work with EESC to set up some shared tools and communicate the guidelines, standards and policies to group members working on the website. Then before you know it, you will have arrived at a functional content strategy.


Extension website updates

You can now see all featured questions on a single page.

The “seasonal” tagging field now allows multiple options to be selected for a piece of content.

Minor fixes have been made in the display of phone and email on county landing pages.

Collections now have the formatting options: standard teaser (thumbnail image, title, short description), grid format (3 card size images and descriptions next to each other), and plain list without images. After adding a “collection section” see the settings tab.

Thanks to Joseph Phillips, Content Strategist for the Examined Web, for ideas from his article “A four step roadmap to good content governance” for this blog post.

The past couple of weeks sparked some new possibilities to test out, in hopes of resolving ongoing requests from content teams. Everyone has a role in making this possible. What then is the role of the content strategist? It involves listening for commonalities, looking for bright spots, and asking questions to facilitate people thinking about strategy.

Currently, group conversations have generated insight into:

  1. Facilitating workflows that can support a new way of doing things.
  2. ­­Creating a way to share human interest stories that show the value of Extension’s work.
  3. Improving access to resources in ways that audiences want.

1) Workflows

A lot goes into identifying, writing, reviewing and tagging content that only experts in the subject can do. Entering, coordinating and managing educational content by the content team, however, needs further discussion.

Events, announcements, newsletters, and county focus areas can all still be managed by the county office groups. Educational content, however, shifted to the program areas. Regardless of where faculty are stationed, the content is valuable regionally and statewide, and no longer seen as tied to a county. Who then is best to enter and manage this content of the statewide teams? How do we leverage existing resources to do so?

Some new ideas include:

  • Write into your annual work plan 5% of website responsibilities that go beyond creating and updating content, so that your time as a team member is acknowledged and supported.
  • Shift responsibilities and offer incentives, so a champion wanting to spearhead this innovative change can take time to set up topic pages and tagging guides as needed to organize and maintain content.
  • Leverage support professionals from the program area, such as education program assistants or research assistants, to learn the entry, tagging, and coordination processes.

2) Stories

“We need to capture the essence of who we are as a community in Extension and how we meet the needs of our communities,” said Anita Azarenko recently at the Quarterly Conversations. She asked, “How do we put feeling back into our website?”

Content analysis published in the Journal of Applied Communications* found the majority of awareness campaigns on agricultural websites used logical appeals with education-based and fact-based content. However, content with emotional appeals can be more effective in connecting with and being remembered by web visitors.

Stories showcase the value of what we do for the public by putting a face to our work. Publishing stories ourselves in addition to media coverage can increase the longevity and reach of our stories, and help show people how they too can benefit by being engaged with our programs. EESC is moving forward to capture these stories and to find the best way to showcase them online.

3) Audience navigation

Technology can level barriers for some, and be a learning curve for others. Audiences come with all different preferences and skill levels. The new content management system helps to customize how content is displayed, even for the audience that just wants a straight list of resources in one place.

Topic landing pages came out ten months ago so teams could organize the content based on audience needs and interests. The “custom topic sections” can gather similar content under easy to skim headings. Keywords (which are now easier to modify) can help filter less relevant content. Links to these resources can still be reached from county page focus areas if people enter the site that way, and topics continue to evolve based on content developed and how audiences look for it.

We’ll continue to work with faculty on improving audience access to resources they depend on in the coming months.

Web updates

  • A recording is available from Quarterly Conversations on Extension’s digital strategy.
  • Updates to the faculty and staff directory fixed filter functionality, added new filters and fixed links to county, program and unit/department on profile pages
  • A pesticide safety disclaimer is now an option to add in English or Spanish on articles (just check the box on relevant content)
  • Content that appears in web-based newsletter issues and or collections now have an attribution stating this connection.

* Assessing the Content of Online Agricultural Awareness Campaigns Joy N. Rumble, Quisto Settle, and Tracy Irani, This research is available in Journal of Applied Communications: https://newprairiepress.org/jac/vol100/iss3/10

Blog Post for Monday July 22 2019

Take a video tour and hear feedback

Do you still have people calling to ask how to find things on the website? Have you not revisited the Extension website since after the launch? You may be surprised how things have changed over the past year. This tutorial walks you through the four key ways to get reoriented to the website.

Share this video with your colleagues and clients, and consider posting these announcements on social media or in newsletters this summer.

Take a tour of the updated OSU Extension Service website to see different ways to find the science-based information you want. https://youtu.be/zWC1UgT1qis

What’s the resource you’re looking for? Here’s 4 ways to find it on OSU Extension’s website. Watch now. https://youtu.be/zWC1UgT1qis

Interested in what’s changed about the OSU Extension’s website since you last looked? We welcome you to start exploring again. https://youtu.be/zWC1UgT1qis

Or send them to the “How to Use this Website” help page that is in the footer of the website. Also, when you talk with someone new or respond to an email, consider asking how this person found you. What did they Google? Why did they click on your resource? What did they do once on the site? You may be pleased to hear what they found and what else would be of interest.

Web updates

You’ll notice several new places where we are collecting feedback directly from website visitors to inform our work.

To see the comments, web groups can click a “Feedback” tab on your content or group pages when logged in.

Also, a reminder to add the photo credit and/or required citation (e.g. Creative Commons attribution) when adding an image to the site. Just click on the “Edit” button after uploading it to find the caption, photo credit and photo credit link fields. This can be helpful when we get contacted from outside media that want to reprint an article or use an image.

The active summer season means lots of newsletters are packed full of advice and opportunities for volunteers, participants or general audiences. The Extension website hosts 70 monthly or quarterly newsletters from across the state, and a quick look at some can give you new ideas to try out.

If you don’t already post your newsletters on the Extension website, find out how to set up your newsletter. It will highlight your most recent issue and automatically show archived issues as well.

1) Make the connection

If you have a long list of upcoming events in your newsletters, follow the example of Lane county’s newsletter and add a link to the event posted on the Extension website, so people can learn more and register. Lane County filled up its classes thanks in part to its promotion in newsletters, on the website and across social media. If your newsletter also is sent in a print version, just provide the URL to your local program or county/combined station’s event menu page (this can be standard in every issue).

2) Make it consistent

Check if you are aligning your information across the Extension website, your newsletter and your social media. This includes cross-promoting content, since people like to access information different ways. Also, consider consistent branding with font, colors, and tone, such as in Woodland Notes.

3) Make it meaningful

Metro Master Gardeners newsletter does a good job of writing to “you” rather than just about “us” when trying to encourage participation in opportunities. They include information about why it may be of interest to them and what they can expect. They also include helpful reminders with links to where to find forms and FAQs volunteers need on the Extension website.

4) Make it simple

Keep your articles short (less than 500 words) and consider linking to the full article on the website or in Box to read more. They may be more likely to click if you write not as an organization, but as a person working on issues your readers care about. See a comparison example of a reworked original newsletter made simpler. Also, consider if readers only skim your newsletter’s headlines, will they still understand the gist of it?

5) Make it relevant

Look at your analytics to see what people are clicking on if you use an e-news service (e.g. Mailchimp), so you know what readers like and can do more of it. If you have a newsletter on the Extension website, contact the web and content strategy team to see how many people are viewing or downloading it. You can also gather interests of your audiences, and segment your list to send different information out based on those interests.

6) Make it actionable

Make the majority of content focused on today or tomorrow. Always provide a next step, even if it’s something simple like “Learn more” with a link to an OSU catalog publication. If you do highlight past events in order to thank those who were involved, share how it connects to the future and give specifics to show the positive impact their contributions have made.

7) Make it last

Small Farms News is a great example of having your educational content live on beyond the month it was published. As part of the archive process, they convert their PDF they uploaded to the web-based version, which means the main articles get added separately and featured across the site, not just in the newsletter.

8) Make your life easier

Many newsletters, such as the Linn County E-news,  find the design, delivery, and managing of email lists easier with an e-news service (e.g. Mailchimp, Constant Contact). People can subscribe, share or remove themselves from your newsletter lists on their own. It also notifies you and cleans up defunct email addresses, and helps to improve chances the e-news will reach their inbox and get read.

Do you have other suggestions? What do you like in a newsletter?

Recent Web Updates

This past month we updated the website groups contact lists. To see if you are listed correctly, or to find out who is in a specific content team or county office or program group, check Content Teams / Web Groups. The web and content strategy team sends updates to the leaders and coordinators of these groups, and they then forward it on to their members and gather any feedback to share back to the team.