The “virtual” Extension Annual Conference takes place next week. Your colleagues at Extension Communications (EC), Professional and Continuing Education (PACE), and Extension Computing Technology Unit (ECTU) have some great sessions planned along with Virtual “Tabling” events where you can get your questions answered and learn about the services that EC, PACE, and ECTU have to offer. See the conference schedule for complete listing of keynote talks, sessions, and other events taking place over the week.

 

Sessions events presented by members of  EC, PACE, and ECTU are listed below.

We hope to see you next week.

 

Day 1

Monday, Dec. 7th

10:15:-10:45am

Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video

Victor Villegas, Alan Dennis

Deliver programming to your growing audiences remotely with live video streaming. Come see how easy it is to start streaming, including an overview of the equipment and platforms you can use to broadcast your live event, what types of events are best suited for streaming, how to engage with your audience during your session, and other best practices.

 

11:00:-11:30am

Going The Distance – Considerations for Pivoting to Online Learning

Katie Klump

Migrating your course to an online or distance model is a lot of work. Learn more about steps you can take to ensure the transition is a successful one.

 

11:30-2:00pm

Virtual “Tabling”—Tech Help Desk

Wayne Jardine, Lucas Turpin, and Victor Villegas

Pop in to our Tech Help Desk Zoom Room, which will be manned by Wayne Jardine, Lucas

Turpin, and Victor Villegas, to ask all of your tech questions!

Virtual “Tabling”—Extension Communications

Extension Communications

Pop in to our Web Content and Marketing “Table” Zoom Room, which will be manned by Extension Communications, to ask all of your related questions!

 

Day 2

Tuesday, Dec. 8th

8:30-9:30am

From How to Wow: Audience Engagement in a Virtual World

Alice Phillips, Siew Sun Wong, Jennifer Oppenlander, Alan Dennis, Stephen Ward, Victor Villegas

Is Zoom fatigue preventing you from making the most of your virtual meetings? Join us to learn how to increase the productivity and effectiveness of your next online meeting. We will work through eXtension’s Innovation Skill Building Experience Workbook, which will provide you with tangible steps and materials that spark ideas and increase innovation. We will also participate in virtual brain breaks which you can take back with you and use in your own meetings.

 

Day 3

Wednesday, Dec. 9th

2:00-3:00pm

The Future is Now: Come Witness your Ability to Perform Digital Communication using CRM Practices

Lucas Turpin, Mark Kindred

Preparations have been underway to institute efficiency-building CRM practices all across Extension. Join us to hear about where we are and what the future of digital communications looks like when powered by a CRM software platform.

 

Day 4

Thursday, Dec. 10th

8:30-9:30am

Content Writing for the Extension Website: A deep dive into best practices and techniques

Michele Scheib, Janet Donnelly, Weston Miller, Tamara Hill-Tanquist, Amerie Lommen, Bryan Mayjor, Ariel Ginsburg, Jim Sloan

Learn best practices for planning, writing and presenting content on the OSU Extension website. Get tips and see great examples of web articles and county, program, and topic pages. Explore why these examples are working well and discover ways you can improve your content. This session is for anyone who wants to produce web content that engages and informs your audience.

Digital Measures for Office Managers – Access the Data at your Fingertips!

Linda Brewer, Lucas Turpin

This is a chance for Administrative Office Managers to learn how Digital Measures can ease your work load by providing data for decision making. Ask your questions and tell us what is not working for you. We welcome your suggestions for reports. Log on and follow along as we demonstrate how to run basic reports.

 

9:45-10:45

DIY Video Recording and Production

Alan Dennis, Victor Villegas

With people increasingly turning to video content, now is a great time to develop your video production skills. Learn how to record your own videos while working with Extension Communications for editing and publication.

This session will cover: Recording equipment to produce quality content; Production planning (scripting, planning your shots, thinking visually, location scouting, etc.); Recording in different environments (indoor, outdoor, low light, inclement weather, etc.).

 

10:45-1:00pm

Virtual “Tabling”—Tech Help Desk

Wayne Jardine, Lucas Turpin, and Victor Villegas

Pop in to our Tech Help Desk Zoom Room, which will be manned by Wayne Jardine, Lucas

Turpin, and Victor Villegas, to ask all of your tech questions!

Virtual “Tabling”—Extension Communications

Extension Communications

Pop in to our Web Content and Marketing “Table” Zoom Room, which will be manned by Extension Communications, to ask all of your related questions!

 

The Extension website launched in the summer of 2018. At that time, hundreds of faculty and staff needed to learn how to migrate and manage content in the new system. This meant learning the different content types and responsibilities of their designated groups.

Educational content would now be driven by and managed by program areas (via content teams). And, based on topics of expertise, not county locations.

Content teams, made up of subject matter experts, became the core of content coordination. These working groups needed to decide how best to function together. Not always an easy task. Web content priorities often fell through the cracks of busy schedules.

A shift occurred in 2020. Thanks for this goes to the program leaders. They recognized the need for allotted time in one person’s role to support faculty working on the website.

In most cases, these people also serve as a content team leader. The exception is Ag, where a bridge person helps all the 34 content team leaders, although some of their teams are self-sufficient.

These 10 designated people serve as a single point of contact — the liaison between the content team(s) and the program area leader and the Extension web and content strategy team. What does this look like and who are these amazing people?

 

  • Adriene Koett-Cronn works on content strategy for Sea Grant. She makes sure their publications, faculty and events get represented on Extension’s site. She brings good innovations to this role and is a joy to work alongside.

 

  • Amanda Bielenberg-Hayes works with Open Campus to help the counties, where they have a presence, share information about their program. She also is gearing up to coordinate how their program could fit within the Extension site. She brings attention to detail and effusive gratitude to her liaison role.

 

  • Candi Bothum, Jaime Guillén and Trisha Applebee work with the 4-H statewide program area and their local programs across the state to coordinate communication. They also help with consistency in structure, design and program resources. This trio stepped into a big role and navigate it with good intentions and a willingness to listen and learn.

 

  • Jessica Green works with the Ag Extension program teams to show how the Extension website can meet their needs on topic or project pages. She is always willing to fill the gaps from adding images to answering questions to researching new information on request. Her friendly nature helps others to understand and use the tools available.

 

  • Kristen Moore works with the cross-program youth education content team. She thinks through their topic categories and the process to get resources from across Extension on to the site. Her experience with the website structure and the ability to see the big picture is useful to facilitate a way forward for this new and ambitious team.

 

  • LeAnn Locher works with the Master Gardener program statewide, their local programs and the Horticulture content team. She helps to coordinate consistency in messaging, design, content updates and outreach strategies. Her strong communication skills, equity perspective and easy-going nature enhance the work of this dedicated team.

 

  • Teresa Crowley works with the Family and Community Health program area across all their programs. She has been essential in translating needs and setting up content on the site from the very beginning. She brings her wit and experience to know the best route forward, and she candidly persists when requests press in from all sides.

 

  • Shannon Murray works with Forestry and Natural Resources Extension to arrange web training and keep a pulse on content and program pages. She aptly stepped into the role recently to carry on their organized approach to content management in meeting the needs of all their team members.

 

As a season for giving thanks, let us recognize each of their ongoing efforts and contributions. They help to meet a need, come up with new solutions and further the process of Extension’s content strategy. Thank you for all you do!

Shooting video can be intimidating.

The thought of creating our own videos (and being front and center in virtual meetings) can trigger a wave of unease.

Which makes sense.

Trying something new can make us feel vulnerable and out of our comfort zone. So, it can feel safer to not try and justify it with reasons like, well, I don’t have fancy equipment so what’s the point?

However dear reader – I believe in you!

Below are a few simple tweaks you can implement to boost, nay, skyrocket the overall look and feel of your video with just your smartphone as well as your webcam footage. Right now. For free.

Scroll down to learn how!

Showing vs. Telling

Telling you tips and techniques about how to make your video more visually appealing seems disingenuous in a text-only format. So, I created this 12-minute video discussing all of these concepts, which you can view right now.

However, we all learn differently and prefer to consume information in our own way.

So, I collected all of the information from that video as well as other concepts and ideas and put them on the Virtual Extension employee site to give you an even more robust guide. You’ll learn:

  • Top 8 things to avoid in your videos, such as unflattering lighting.
  • 15 phone and webcam tips – many of them free!
  • How to frame your shots like a pro, with many examples to see.

Hopefully, the video in this post and the comprehensive guide is helpful.

The biggest tip I hope you take away is – just go for it!

It can be easy to procrastinate and come up with excuses about not having the right gear, but see if you can challenge that inner voice and just go out and try.

You will learn 100x faster and better to see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Then try it again.

It’s those small little changes that lead to big improvements.

Make mistakes. Learn. Improve. Repeat. I know you can do it!


About the Author

greg-aronoff-portraitjpgGreg Aronoff is part of OSU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE). Greg and his team help provide guidance and strategy on marketing and multimedia projects in addition to producing videos, webpages, newsletters, articles, fliers, and more!

If you would like to learn more about PACE and work with their Multimedia and Marketing Team, simply fill out this intake form.

Watch our Success in Collaboration webinar

With the start of the pandemic, teams from PACE, Extension Communications and ECTU came together to align our expertise and services in support of Extension’s response. Since then we’ve worked together on a number of programs and initiatives with partners throughout Extension, resulting in greater reach, engagement, impact and efficiency. Watch the webinar recording to learn about recent successes and lessons learned, and continue to explore what’s possible when we all work together!

What do you do when your newsletter audience almost triples from 30,000 subscribers to 80,000? This was the fortunate dilemma we faced at Professional and Continuing Education in May of this year with the popularity of our online Master Gardener Vegetable Gardening class. But let me back up and discuss where we were, what happened and where we are now.

PACE has long had a gardening newsletter, primarily as a promotional venue, and it has always had an engaged readership. We had a little over 30,000 subscribers and strong numbers in terms of engagement. Our open rates hovered around 13% (3,500 people) and our click-through rates (the number of people who click on something in the email after opening it) was usually around 25%, or close to 1,000 people.

We also knew, through analytics provided by our content management system HubSpot, that 75% of our audience actually read our newsletter, meaning they spent more than 2 minutes engaging with it. These are strong numbers, but we always thought the newsletter could do more. It was a great way to let people know about our upcoming gardening classes, but we weren’t providing much benefit beyond that.

Then COVID-19 happened. When we were all leaving our offices and beginning to quarantine at home, Gail Langellotto decided to make PACE’s Master Gardener Vegetable Gardening class free temporarily so people stuck at home could enjoy the spring weather and get out in the garden. It struck a chord. Between March and June over 40,000 people enrolled in the course and we added 50,000 people to our gardening newsletter list.

At this same time, the PACE marketing team was beginning to work more closely with others in Extension Communications and the Extension Computing Technology Unit, now in a virtual setting. Capitalizing on these new relationships and the rising popularity of our gardening classes, we forged a small team to work together on a revitalized version of the gardening newsletter. We soon realized that we could do more than promote upcoming classes, especially with the added expertise of Extension Communications folks.

We decided to revise the newsletter to focus more on providing benefit and resources to our audience to help them garden. We would utilize existing resources such as monthly gardening calendars, Extension publications and upcoming news articles. We would also continue advertising upcoming PACE gardening and agriculture focused courses to let people know about professional development opportunities they could pursue.

We also made use of a new email template in HubSpot that PACE had as part of our website redesign. This template was much more clean and engaging. Plus, using some of HubSpot’s new tools, it is easily customizable month-to-month when we have different pieces of content coming in and out.

Even though we added 50,000 people to our newsletter list who may be relatively new to gardening, our engagement metrics have gone up. Our open rates have been consistently between 20-30% (16,000 – 24,000 people) and our click-through rates have mostly been in the 17% range (4,000 people). We have also increased the frequency in order to stay more engaged with this new audience, moving from once a month to every other week. We have plans to move to weekly, if possible.

Having a larger team working remotely on the newsletter has also been a great opportunity to improve processes and make use of more planning and reporting. To that end, we’ve been using AirTable for our content calendar. This allows everyone on the team to view the different components of the newsletter ahead of time and contribute their own edits, thoughts and ideas. It also allows us to see all the upcoming newsletter drafts at a glance at our monthly check-ins.

We have a fantastic team working on this newsletter, and it’s been great to see it evolve so much this year. The pandemic has been and continues to be a devastating part of 2020, but it’s nice to see more people getting interested in gardening. And it’s great to be able to provide that audience with the excellent content Extension has to offer.

Sign up if you would like to receive the gardening newsletter and get seasonal and relevant information in your inbox each month!

Author: Rich Collins

OSU Extension has programs for Oregonians at every stage of life, from young children participating in 4-H Cloverbuds to seniors taking Walk with Ease or Better Bones and Balance classes. With this diversity of programming, it is no surprise that people of all ages visit and utilize the Extension website.

It is difficult to make generalizations about people’s web use based on their age, since it is often influenced by factors such as socioeconomic status, education, location, etc. that vary tremendously within one age group. Despite stereotypes, a teenager growing up in a rural area without regular internet access will probably be less “tech savvy” than a retired person who spent much of their career as a software engineer in a big city. However, because it’s our mission to serve all Oregonians, it is useful to look at analytics for visitors in different age groups to ensure that the website is serving them all effectively and determine if there are particular topics or methods of content delivery that are more effective for certain groups.

In this post, we will take a high-level look at this information. All analytics data provided is for the period January 1, 2020 to October 15, 2020. Note that Google Analytics is able to determine age data for about 36% of visitors to the site.

Under 18

For legal reasons, Google Analytics does not provide data about users that it determines to be under the age of 18.

Check out these articles on creating web content for children and teens:

Ages 18-24

A significant segment of this age group on the Extension website is made up of college/university students, as evidenced by the relatively high popularity of “academic” content used as citations or references in papers, such as items in the Botany Basics collection, as well as the fact that this group has the highest percentage of visitors from Corvallis.

Ages 18-24 user data

This is the age group that is reported to visit the Extension website the least, making up 11.6% of users for which we have age data. (Note, though, that this age group contains the shortest range and therefore the lowest number of individuals who could visit.) It also has the highest bounce rate (71.65%) and lowest average pages per session (1.44). This means that they are the most likely to visit a single page on the site and leave before visiting any others. They are also the group least likely to use the site search feature.

However, this group also spends more time on average on individual pages (2 minutes 51 seconds) than any other age group. This suggests that they are interested in the content on the site and are spending time to read it through. They are the group who least often leaves feedback on content (“Was this page helpful?”), but from the data we have their responses are almost always positive.

Contrary to what you may guess, visitors in this age group are more likely than visitors in any other to be using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device (this may be related to the number of students doing school work). However, for all age groups, a majority of users do use mobile devices. Even though this is the group most likely to be using a desktop, only 46.7% do.

Additionally, all groups of visitors are most likely to find the Extension website through an internet search through Google or another search engine. However, the 18-24 age group is the least likely to find the site through other methods (links on other sites, social media posts, etc.).

In terms of the content visited, this age group represents the widest diversity of interest. For the most part, a large majority of visitors to the Extension website are interested in gardening, food preservation, and (particularly over the last couple months) emergency preparedness topics. However, visitors in the 18-24 age group are the ones who most often visit content about other topics, including Sheep and Goats, Beef Cattle, Fish and Aquatic Life, Field Crops, and Business Management.

Takeaways:

  • To encourage visitors who get to the page from a search engine to visit more than one page on the site, be sure to include a “call to action” or other links on your articles and other content.
  • Be sure that your content includes information about author(s) and date published, etc. so that students (or other researchers) can create a citation for it.
  • Look for opportunities to create and promote content targeted at people in this age group who aren’t college or university students.
  • Consider targeting this age group when promoting content or programming that is new or uncommon in Extension.
  • Look for ways to promote relevant content to this age group beyond relying on them finding it through an internet search.

Ages 25-34

Visitors in this age group are the most common on the site, making up 23.19%, nearly a quarter, of all visitors for which we have age data. They are “middle of the road” for most statistics, including bounce rate, pages per session, and time on page, as well as for the devices they use and the ways they find the Extension website.

In terms of content interests, analytics suggests that visitors ages 25-44 are more interested in livestock-related content than other age groups, particularly beef cattle, sheep, and goats.

Takeaways:

  • Although this age group represents the largest group of website visitors, they are commonly thought to be underrepresented in “in-person” Extension programming. Think about ways you can utilize the web to increase participation from this group.

Ages 35-54

Google Analytics splits this into two groups, 35-44 and 45-54, but the statistics for these groups on the Extension website are so similar that it is easier to talk about them together.

This age group shows a significant drop in visitor numbers from the previous group. Numbers pick up again somewhat for visitors 55 and over.

Extension visitors by age

It may surprise you to learn that it is actually this age group that is the most likely out of all visitors to be using a mobile device. Over 70% of visitors in the 35-44 age group use a mobile phone or tablet to visit the Extension website.

Additionally, the 45-54 age group is the one most likely to find the Extension website through social media (12.7%). Facebook is the most common platform people arrive from.

In addition to the interest in livestock topics mentioned above, this age group shows a relatively high interest in crop production topics, particularly Field Crops, Hazelnuts and Nut Crops, and Tree Fruit.

Takeaways:

  • Think about reasons why visitors might drop off in this age group. Do we have programming appropriate for people who may be busy with family and/or career obligations? If so is it well represented online?
  • Don’t assume that only young people are visiting the site on a mobile device.
  • Make sure your social media strategy isn’t targeted solely at young people.

Ages 55-64

This is the second most common age group for visitors to the Extension website. Most statistics for this group are somewhere in the middle of the stats for the previous age group and the next.

One notable fact is that visitors in the 55 and over age group are much more likely than other age groups to leave feedback on content. The vast majority of all feedback is positive, but this group leaves negative feedback most often (55-64 ~7% negative and 65+ ~13% negative).

The 55+ age group also, perhaps unsurprisingly, represents visitors who have a relatively high interest in healthy aging and physical activity topics.

Takeaways:

  • When looking at feedback on content, keep in mind that certain groups of visitors may be more likely to leave feedback than others.
  • If you are making content targeted at older adults, look at examples like Better Bones and Balance or Walk with Ease as examples of effective web content for that audience.

Ages 65+

This age group is only the third largest group of visitors on the Extension website, but they spend the most time in a session visiting the site and tend to view the most pages. However, they spend the least amount of time on individual pages on average (2 minutes and 8 seconds). This behavior may indicate that this group has a harder time finding what they need on the site and so end up visiting many pages pretty quickly while they look. This idea is further supported by the fact that this group utilizes the site search feature much more than any other age group.

Contrary to what you might expect, this age group is not particularly likely to be using a desktop computer (in fact, slightly less than the 18-24 age group). The 65+ group is the one that most often uses tablets to access the website (~17% of visitors in this group use one). This age group is also the one most likely to find the Extension website from a link on another site.

Takeaways:

  • Make sure content is written to be easy to scan and read, so people can easily tell if what they need is on the page.
  • Tag your content with relevant keywords and topics so that visitors can find it through the site’s search feature.
  • Don’t assume that older adults are always using a desktop setup to access web content. In particular, don’t assume that they are using technology that can easily download/view PDFs or other documents.

Website updates

Impact statements convey messages used for far more than supervisor evaluations – though that’s one of the important roles of impact statements. The better they are written, the better your supervisor can assess your accomplishments. But they also provide fodder for speeches by President Alexander, and Anita Azarenko, interim vice provost for the Division of Extension and Engagement, uses them for reports and briefing documents and to communicate with elected officials and stakeholders about Extension’s impact in Oregon and beyond. Regional directors and local liaisons turn to impact statements to present Extension’s successes, and Extension Communications uses impact statements to put Extension in a positive light through impact stories, news stories, press releases and more.

The impact statements you enter into Digital Measures can have an effect on promotion and tenure. They are a way for supervisors to get an idea about how your efforts have contributed to Extension’s mission.

In other words, impact statements have a wide reach and are necessary for letting our stakeholders, legislators, partners, current and future customers know the important things Extension accomplishes. They are posted online on the Our Impact webpage, available for anyone to peruse.

Although many of you know about the site, you may wonder how to find stories so that you can better let your fellow Oregonians know about them. There are more than 165 impact stories on the site now. You can find stories that relate to your region by using the “view our impacts in Oregon counties.”

Once you’re familiar with how to find impact stories, you can share them with the public in a variety of ways, most notably: on your social media accounts, in presentations and newsletters, on posters and grant applications and in written and verbal communications with elected officials.

Writing useful impact statements

Impact statements are straightforward, concise reports of your program efforts and impact. Good ones like the one below conveys three things:

  • Problem or issue
  • Efforts or activities to solve it
  • Impact or change it brought

Screenshot of this impact story: https://ourimpact.oregonstate.edu/story/osu-helps-cattle-ranchers-environmentalists-save-sage-grouse

Here, the problem encompasses the management conflict between sage-grouse and cattle grazing.

The action statement is Extension’s efforts to avoid listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species List with an information campaign to landowners, which would result in improvements to rangelands to make them more friendly to sage-grouse.

The impact or change was a historic agreement to protect sage-grouse habitat. Along with that are statistics to back it up.

The idea is to get your impact across without dumping all of your information into your statement. Be short. Think of it as an elevator speech. You want the reader to get the idea of your impact in a few paragraphs. If you feel it must be longer, continue to write in a straight-forward manner and keep it as concise as possible. If you need some coaching, contact Kym Pokorny or Chris Branam on the Extension Communications news team. Always keep in mind (from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications and Marketing, Virginia Tech):

An impact statement

  • Briefly summarizes, in lay terms, the difference your teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement efforts have made.
  • States accomplishment and creates strong support for programs.
  • Answers the questions… “So what?” and “Who cares?”
  • Conveys accomplishments in simple language free of technical jargon.
  • Is submitted by faculty for three to five efforts each year.

Who cares?

  • Helps us reflect on and improve our work.
  • Demonstrates the difference we make in people’s lives, communities and the environment.
  • Improves visibility of programs (local, state, national).
  • Generates support.
  • Is a repository of results for speeches and other communication.
  • Helps us focus on issues, initiatives, and program themes.
  • Builds greater understanding of our programs by the public.
  • Illustrates our accountability.

Don’t use jargon. Write as if you are talking to a family member or friend who knows nothing about your topic. You want them to come away thinking, “So that’s what Extension does.” Don’t be vague. Use active verbs. Rather than “She was plowing the wheat field” write “She plowed the wheat field.”

Headlines, subheads, photos and captions grab attention so should be clear and engaging. An example of some good headlines includes:

  • OSU research hooks students on marine science
  • Urban cosmetologists raise money for Hopkins Demonstration Forest
  • 4-H youth sew Stockings for Soldiers
  • Wildfire danger in northeast Oregon ignites action to improve forest health

Be memorable. Be punchy. Be concise. Note all verbs are active. You want it to be informative; it is the gateway to the reader and we want them to open the door.

Impact statements are all about communicating to the public, much of which aren’t familiar with Extension or Extension’s reach throughout the state and beyond, so don’t be humble.

It’s recommended that you start thinking of impact at the beginning of your project. Will you determine impact through interviews? Surveys? Measurable impact? Don’t worry if you don’t have numbers to use for measuring impact. Describing what you have accomplished or think you will accomplish works, too. If your project is ongoing, you should update your impact statement yearly as you gather more information.

Remember, impact statements are just a three-pronged report: problem, what you did to change it, what the change or impact was. It can be written in three paragraphs, but it’s okay if you go over. Just don’t put all the details in. Keep it as short as you can. Along with headlines and photos, conciseness in conveying your message is one of the most important aspects of writing an impact statement. You want to answer “So what?” Your statement should draw people in so that Extension is known throughout the state for the important work we do.

Website updates

We are excited to announce a new feature for the Extension website’s county landing pages later this month. Impact stories related to your county will be featured in the news and impact section. The stories originate from The Statewides: Our Impact website.

As natural disasters affect many communities across Oregon, people contact Extension and search online to get quick answers, to learn more on the subject and to get more expertise in it.

During the peak time during recent wildfires, visitors to the Extension website more than doubled to 18,000 daily compared to the usual 7,000 daily in the weeks before and after. It was also a slight increase in those viewing from mobile devices (65% vs. 57%).

The information people needed did not just come from Extension’s Forestry and Natural Resources Fire Program (627 pageviews) and their events, but also content from Extension’s other program areas. Extension Communications worked with Extension leaders, content team leaders and faculty and staff to coordinate coverage online.

Where can we direct people to find current information?

Topic pages

Already having topic pages that curate content in one place on the Extension website helped with timely turnaround needed.

A quick review of existing topic pages helped to add new calls to actions and feature relevant content. New content produced also automatically appeared under latest resources and news. The relevant topic pages included:

  • Fire (1858 pageviews in September)

Fire topic page with Announcement about Post-Fire Webinar Series and below that a call to action box "Learn what is happening in your community" with link to the Fire Program

Family Emergency Preparedness topic page with announcement about community emergency Wi-Fi access and a call to action box for Oregonians to stay safe and informed with link to State of Oregon resource hub

Community Disaster Preparedness topic page with Announcement for Livestock hay and feed donation request at top and a call to action with link to "real-time map of fires in Oregon"

New content related to smoke and ash information also could easily be tagged to show on related livestock, gardening, health outreach, food safety and wine grapes topic pages.

Announcements

Similarly, ways to easily tag announcements to show across the Extension website helped with quick notifications to communities no matter where they enter the site.

Extension Communications coordinated with Extension leaders and county web coordinators on announcements to appear on county pages and any related topic pages. These included:

  • Livestock hay donations (289 pageviews in September)
  • Safety alert closures of offices (198 pageviews)
  • Emergency community wi-fi access (55 pageviews)
  • Disaster relief support and mask distributions (44 pageviews)

Employee intranet

The employee resources website also provided a place to share internal information on administrative and communication questions that arose on the wildfire issue.

Updates to the wildfire information resources for Extension employees webpage had 160 pageviews in September. It offers expense tracking, activity reporting and volunteering information that will be useful to know for any emerging issue.

Top page of the Employee Intranet Wildfire Information - shows smoke image with box with link under heading "Stay safe and informed"

How do we get new content that our audiences need online quickly?

Most visitors to the website arrive directly on our educational content. Extension faculty crafted multiple new articles and answered Ask an Expert questions to publish on the Extension site during the peak of the wildfires.

It’s great when we have original, trusted content to promote and that our educators are taking time to do that. Here’s some of the results for month of September:

  1. What should I do about the wildfire ash covering my yard and garden? | new Featured Ask an Expert question – 45,334 pageviews
  2. Take precautions when wildfire ash falls on fruits and vegetables | new News story – 30,439 pageviews
  3. Is it safe to eat my garden produce affected by wildfires? | new Featured Ask an Expert question – 16,972 pageviews
  4. What effect will the 2020 fires have on bees? | new Web article – 4734 pageviews
  5. After a wildfire | existing Web article – 1671 pageviews
  6. Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes and Fire-Resistant Landscape Plants for the Willamette Valley | existing Catalog publications — 1531 combined pageviews
  7. During a wildfire | existing Web article – 1214 pageviews
  8. The Home Ignition Zone: Protecting Your Property from Wildfire | existing Catalog publication – 1180 pageviews
  9. Fire FAQs—Who owns Oregon’s forests, and how does that matter when it comes to fire? | existing Catalog publication — 977 pageviews
  10. Impact of Smoke Exposure on Wine | existing Catalog publication – 752 pageviews
  11. Animal exposure to wildfire smoke | new Web article – 627 pageviews
  12. Fire FAQs—What is forest fuel, and what are fuel treatments? | existing Catalog publication — 533 pageviews
  13. Improve indoor air quality from wildfire smoke during COVID-19 | new Web article – 512 pageviews
  14. OSU Extension assists with livestock rescue efforts as Oregonians flee fires | new News story – 473 pageviews
  15. Once the smoke clears: A guide to safety start working and riding your horse | new Web article – 403 pageviews

Also added were key “online resources” from government sources or other Extension colleagues, especially bilingual content on evacuation safety, wildfire smoke, and fire prevention.

Where time is of the essence, some of the most timely ways to publish content are:

  • Ask an Expert question/answer (Extension Communications monitors and can add timely, relevant content as “featured questions” to the Extension website.)
  • Publish a new article, or revise an existing one (Post through your content team.)
  • Add an online resource through your content team (Link to a credible outside source.)

You may also be interviewed for news stories published by Extension Communications writers.

Later, your team may also want to revise or create a new peer-reviewed Extension Catalog publication.

People are taking the time to fully read this information too – often spending over five minutes and more on each article. Together all this online content captured ways Extension educates, collaborates and supports efforts in the state when natural disasters happen.

How can we best let people know about our useful resources?

If you create content based on questions you’re hearing from our audiences or other trends, then there will likely be more interest when you share it. The pieces of content that attracted most pageviews also had about 45% who arrived via Facebook social media referrals.

Sometimes how you present it on social media helps too. One piece of wildfire content had over half its views come from Facebook. This could be because of the post’s creative photo slideshow about 4-H assistance with rescued livestock.

During this time, the most popular Facebook post shared urgent tips right in the message if they clicked to see more.

Post with infographic "When the fire nears you... Anticipating an evacuation? Steps to take now" with steps listed. Shared 747 times and 29 comments.

Direct referrals to the online content, such as from your email distribution lists, also increased. During this wildfire peak time, 34% arrived from a direct URL compared to around 13% other weeks in September.

While we featured this new and timely content each day on the Extension homepage, the OSU Alumni website also featured our information on their site too. What other partners do you know of that highlighted our content on their sites?

When the next natural disaster comes to Oregon, such as a water-related emergency, keep in mind these ways that your content can be nimble and ready to go when needed.

In the face of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, maintaining strong ties within the communities we serve can feel like an uphill battle. Even with social distancing, it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of Oregonians and to maintain strong ties with each other as we face this public health crisis together.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in Extension are faced with a dilemma: how do we continue to offer vulnerable community members the opportunity to continue engaging with the event-based programming they want to attend, but can’t?

Recently, 4-H and the FFA were planning the Grant County Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit. The necessary Covid-19 related precautions were planned, including social distancing and limiting attendance. But, the reduced attendance posed several drawbacks to the viability and effectiveness of this event and future ones like it.

Bonni Booth, the 4-H Program Coordinator for Grant County, learned about a local church that was successfully live streaming their service to those who couldn’t attend in-person. The church offered Bonni and her team a laptop, camera, and WiFi access to stream live video from their event onto YouTube. To leverage OSU Extension’s YouTube subscriber following, she reached out to Extension Communications to see if we had an official YouTube channel for streaming live events.

We didn’t have such a channel, but now we do. We present to you: OSU Extension Live, a YouTube channel dedicated to broadcasting your event quickly and to a large audience.

screenshot of the live video image with analytics graph below

How OSU Extension Live works

It’s accessible from practically any device with an internet connection, even a mobile phone or a smart TV. People who prefer to quarantine can connect with their Extension communities. Those with scheduling conflicts can rewind the stream to watch the parts they had missed. Bonni told me after the event that grandparents of the 4-H youth who lived across state lines thanked her for letting them watch their grandchildren show their animals. Expanding our services to reach underserved audiences is a great perk, pandemic or not.

Bar graph showing desktop was most used to watch and most on Thursday. TV and mobile were next popular and tablet and game console not as much.

The Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit was six days long and included an array of activities that took place at different times. YouTube’s in-depth analytics shows which activities gathered the largest virtual crowds, and can even give a general sense of who is tuning in. These data points can help you determine which parts of the event were the most popular and which didn’t hold the audience’s attention.

line graph of live concurrent viewers by time of day

This isn’t just a piece of the solution for social distancing, this is a paradigm shift for offering accessible content to people with all sorts of reasons for not attending an event in-person. All the while, accessing powerful feedback to help you shape your future programming.

How you can get started

We are working to make live video streaming to OSU Extension Live as easy as possible, but there are some extra considerations.

  1. You will need a data connection. Streaming won’t work without a stable connection to YouTube.
  2. University policy for youth programming states that a model release must be completed by all youth present on-camera. Most youth programs have a model release as part of their enrollment process, but make sure to bring extra forms to the event in the case that a youth without one wants to participate on-camera.
  3. If you elect to open up the live stream to comments, make sure someone is available to moderate those comments.

Let’s say that an event you are hosting is coming up and you want to determine whether to host a live video stream. What makes an event ideal for live streaming?

  • Is your event intended for a public audience? If not, perhaps a video conferencing platform like Zoom is more appropriate.
  • Do you have a way to advertise the event to your audience? Sharing the streaming link in an email or on social media with your audience and drumming up excitement days or weeks in advance will ensure the best turn-out.
  • Is this a recurring event? Perhaps there is an unserved audience of prospective members who would like to see what your event is like from the comfort of their own home.
  • Is there someone available who can periodically check on the webcam?

Traffic ration by source shows 40.1% external link, 32.1% direct url entry, and less than 10% for each of the other 5 sources

 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about live video streaming, contact Alan Dennis or Victor Villegas.

You are also more than welcome to learn more by attending our Extension Annual Conference session titled, “Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video” which is slated for Monday, December 7, 2020 from 10:15 – 10:45 AM.

UPDATED 10/28/2020

Program pages may use page sections to display your content in different ways.

In this blog post learn about:

  • How pages are built
  • Available page sections and what they look like
  • Some great examples of how programs are using page sections

How pages are built

Each page has these standard elements:

  • Banner image (previously called hero image)
  • Page title
  • Content/body field (the short description after the page title)

After the standard elements, the design may be expanded with page sections:

 

Available page sections

These are the available page sections for program subpages:

Use a button link to point people towards their next step. An example button:

Button links look best when added after text:

Call to action

A call to action is a great way to ask people to do something (volunteer, learn more, sign up, etc.). Includes an image, title, description, and button:

Collapsible section

A collapsible section is great for FAQs. It helps people quickly scan to find answers to their questions. 

The eight questions below work well. If there are more questions, break them up into multiple collapsible sections and use headings to organize the questions. This keeps the information easy to scan.

This is what it looks like when the first question has been clicked and the answer is displayed:

Share information added to the website that is relevant to your program. This can include collections, articles, news stories, etc.

Featured content can be displayed in several ways: a list, grid, featured grid, and text list. Review the program resource list to see what these designs look like.

Image

By default, an image fills the content’s full width and can have a caption:

An image can be added to a two-column section. This works well for square or tall images.

An image can span the full width of the webpage. These work best if the photo is very wide and not very tall. Like this:

To see these images in action, visit the Our History page.

Image slider

An image slider is a way to add photos to the website (e.g., pictures of program participants). On the website, click the arrows to view the next image. Most website visitors only look at the first image. 

Other ways to add images: add an image or text with background


Impact stats bar

The impact stats bar is a great way to show impact information that requires very little text to explain:

Program contact information

Use on pages that would be helpful to easily see contact info (e.g., the become a member page).

To add the contact information for your program: visit the program landing page, click edit, scroll down to Step 3, and add the contact information.

Program event list 

Show events that are happening in your program.

Some of the page sections can be set to display a grey background color. This helps visually break up the page.

Program faculty/staff list

Share who is working in this program. The people listed are based on who is tagged with this program in their profiles. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Program resource list

Organize documents needed to participate in a program. Program resource lists have several ways they can display.

Learn more about program resources

Text list style for program resources

This displays as a bulleted list:

And can have a grey background:

List (search results) style for program resources

If an image isn’t provided, the website will create an image based on the attached document.

Grid (teaser cards) style for program resources

If an image isn’t provided, the website will create an image based on the attached document. This layout looks best if three or six items are being displayed.

Featured grid style for program resources

The first image in the first row displays larger than the others. This layout looks best if three or six items are being displayed.

Here is another example using the featured grid style for program resources:

Program social media list

A program social media list can be added to a one-column or two-column section. 

This two-column section has text for the left column and social media list for the right:

 

Program statewide event list

The program statewide event list is available for local programs (e.g., local 4-H). This is helpful if you want to share the same events on many or all local program pages.

Events are added to the statewide program (e.g., statewide 4-H) and can be easily displayed on the local programs (e.g., local 4-H). This design is the same as for the program event list

Note: When displaying events within a statewide program, please use the program event list.

Program statewide resource list

The program statewide resources list is available for local programs (e.g., local Master Gardener). This is helpful if you want to share the same program resources on many or all local program pages.

Resources are added to a statewide program (e.g., statewide Master Gardener) and can be easily displayed on the local programs (e.g., local Master Gardener).

This displays the same as the program resource list

Note: When displaying resources within a statewide program, please use the program resource list.

Program tagged content list

All educational content (articles, catalog publications, featured questions, educational documents, educational galleries, collections, and videos) have a program tag. You can use those tags to make a list of content to display on your program page. This list can also be narrowed by keywords.

For example, the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program could make a list and show all content with their tag. But they have so much great content, it would be a huge list. So they added keywords to the content so they could create organized lists.

Please let us know if you have any questions or would like help setting this up.

A program tagged content list can be displayed in several ways: a list, grid, featured grid, and text list. Review the program resource list to see what these designs look like.

Share the top things your users are looking for:

 

Tabbed section

Use tabs to organize your content.

Tabbed sections should be used with caution when displaying a lot of content. Website visitors may not notice the content that changes lower down the page after a tab has been selected.

 

Text

Add basic text to the page (e.g., heading, body, links, etc.).

Text with background

A text with background has a white text box over an image. The button is optional. Images should be a minimum of 2000px wide.

Find a photo that looks good even when most of the middle and right side is hidden. When evaluating an image, close one eye, and use your hand to cover the photo’s center and right side. Is the visible part of the picture in focus? Does the photo look good?

When you find a picture that works, add it to the website. Next, see how the image looks when the browser is narrow, wide, or in-between. Does it still look good? You have a winner!

To add a heading style, select the text and applying a Heading 2

Three-column section

To set up a three-column section, first select a three-column section, then add the desired page sections.

This example has buttons in each three-column section

 

Two-column section

To set up a two-column section, first select a two-column section, then add the desired page sections.

This example uses a text and button link for both columns:

Video

By default a video will fill the full width of content. A video can also be added to a two-column, three-column or tabbed section. 

See some great examples

A well-organized and straightforward page:

A page spiced up with:

  • Impact stats bar: Showing the fantastic impact of the program
  • Text with background: The image shows volunteers in action

This page does a great job breaking up the information so it is easy to scan — and includes engaging images:

This page has a great rhythm. It has great photos, is easy to scan, and the buttons clearly describe the next steps. Calls to actions direct people to key resources.

Training materials

Learn more about creating and editing program subpages, includes a how-to video.

Get help

We’d love to give feedback on your work. Please submit a help ticket to the OSU Extension web team to get feedback on your pages or to help you get started.

 

In issues ranging from climate change to public health, scientists have fallen under attack. Science communicators today face a challenge: How do we tell our stories when readers can’t agree on the facts?

Some of the answers may lie in the tools of good communication. Recent research shows us where we may be making missteps in science writing, and lays out some strategies to help us improve.

The jargon trap

Experts in all fields love their jargon. But jargon and unfamiliar words make readers stop reading, even when the word is defined in the text, according to a study at The Ohio State University. What’s more, researchers found that jargon led people to disbelieve in science.

“When you have a difficult time processing the jargon, you start to counter-argue,” says lead author Hillary Schulman. “You don’t like what you’re reading. But when it is easier to read, you are more persuaded and you’re more likely to support these technologies.”

Jargon may be useful in specific circumstances, however, when you are writing for an audience whose members share a common vocabulary. Use caution: If any section of your audience is unfamiliar with your terminology — such as those who are new to the field — you risk alienating them. For more information on science writing for experts, see this short video from user experience firm the Nielsen Norman Group.

More than just the facts

Many times, we’re trying to reach people who may not have much trust in science. That means we have to work hard to engage people with an open communication style, according to a new report in the Journal of Extension. This could include working to make the message relevant and relatable, and including photos and stories of real people.

“Effective science communication involves many more stylistic elements than just using simpler terminology,” the researchers write. “When communicating with the public, it is critical to also consider appropriate framing to bring familiarity to a subject that may seem foreign and intimidating to a general audience.”

For example, you could choose to frame an article in terms of the risks an issue may pose to a community, researchers suggest. Spell out what could happen if people don’t test their soil for nutrient deficiencies, for example. Conversational language is also key.

Use plain language

People are more likely to trust information they can understand. We talked about the importance of plain language in a blog post earlier this year. Here are a few of the main points:

  • Lead with a brief summary.
  • Break up long passages into understandable “chunks” with subheads, bullet points and pull quotes.
  • Avoid passive voice.
  • Check the reading level of your article. If your text falls above the 12th grade reading level, even experts will find it hard to read. Run your text through a readability app like the Hemingway Editor to help you find areas to improve.

We can’t solve all these issues with our keyboards. But avoiding jargon and following the principles of plain language can bridge the gap between writers and readers, and bring us that much closer to understanding.

Author: Janet Donnelly