39: Brand Journalism at University of Notre Dame w/ Andy Fuller

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Andy Fuller, Director of Strategic Content at University of Notre Dame, talks about their long-form journalism unit, the highly-engaging online experiences they’re building, and how they team up with media relations to get additional press from their efforts.

And the ultimate goal, I think, was togo beyond kind of the news release that we were always doing and to really tryit to deliver and experience online you're listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to Growin Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, Imeri,Colson AVP of marketing at helics education and we're here today withAndy Fuller Director of strategic content at the University V. Ofn order,name, Andy welcomed to the show Eric Gread to be here Anda. I firstconnected in real life at content marketing world this pastball and Icouldn't have been more impressed with what his team is. Building from a longform journalism perspective and can't...

...wait to chat with you all about it. Butbefore we dig too deep into that and you can get the listeners a little bitbetter understanding of both he university of Norter Dame and your role,there yeah sure thing. So strategic content is located in the officerPublic Affairs and Communications. So we are meding relations. We are issuesmanagement and we're also marketing communications for the university. Astrategic content is the long form brain journalism unit within OPACKawesome. So, first question: while many media organizations are cutting staffthere hedging their bets on short form, content, you're, going the exactopposite way, spending more time and larger budgets on law form content,explain why that is yeah. So this really kind of came out of areorganization. We did and we identified storytelling as a real gapin our output, a as a communications unit. So we had the marketing thingdown. We were doing some other things...

...well, but we were inspired by some ofthe more cutting edge work being done out there in the media at large,especially places like the New York Times, and the ultimate goal, I think,was to go beyond kind of the news release that we were always doing andto really try it to deliver and Experience Online, and we tried to doit as sort of an ad on within the existing orgg structure. But we thoughtif we were really serious about it and we believed in the power ofstorytelling to lift a brand. The Way to do it was to create a team whosecharge it was just to do long, formed stories, or at least that's their maincharge. So that's that's. How strategic content came about really an effort todeliver an experience online talk us through what your story selectionprocess looks like what kinds of stories is your unit looking to telland how connected does a norder, dame student or alum need to be to it for tto be your story to tell yeah you know. Interestingly, we don't do an awful lotof alumni stories. We have done some...

...some more student stories, but reallywe're trying to focus on strategic priorities for the university and thoseare mostly the growing research enterprise, it's growing andestablished international presence and then, of course, the fact that thatwe're a faith based institution. So that's really our story. Selectionprocess begins there. Can we check boxes under one of those three reallybroad, umbrellas and or Liniar Din great great work in the world? But youknow we have an alumni unit, wo that that's kind of taking care of that.What we're trying to do is we're trying to look for that faculty. Member ofguys doing research that can really give people a differentunderstanding of noter dame that maybe they had before you recently publisheda story called we built this city, which you all need to check out. It'sridiculous, which highlights nouter dame students engaging in differentareas of New York City and the store uses very sophisticated visual designand beautiful web development. Help me understand your team structure in termsof what's a required to produce a story like this, and when are you relying onresources from your Marcom team to make...

...this level of of web production happen? So you know that that thought processagain it's about delivering the experience and the experience of goingto New York City should feel a little bit different online than just text ona page. So the students were going to different spots in the city and wethought well the way to show that, of course, is just a mat at's where youcould. What did they do here in this pot? What did they do over here? Youknow at the lower end of Manhattan, so that was really kind of our. Ourthought was: let's make this thing as interactive as possible, while givingfolks a sense of kind of the breath of of the trip and what they were doing soon my team, I have a couple of web designers. I have a couple of writers.I do some writing from time to time, and so we have that part of it kind ofcovered. What we rely on Markon for is the web development piece and then thephoto and video as well. Now they serve the entire university as well. So whenI come in and and need something done,...

I'm basically like a client for them.So that's how we rely on on Markom the relationship in the past three years,as has been outstanding. You know, I think everyone really kind of buys intoto what we're doing, and we do some fun stuff as well. So I think everyone'sreally on board with it it's incredibly fun and and incredibly impressive. Italk to me about the integration between your department and your mediarelations team. You put so much work into these stories. Is your end gamealways to get these stories pitch to larger national publications, to makethe effort worth it or do you see? You know your own platforms as your ownmedia channel and you're seing that as Thas the first landing spot yeah?Definitely the latter so yeah. Our our main thing is: let's provide dynamiccontent for Inde Atdu and our social channels, whatever channels that we'reproducing and that we maintain ourselves. You mentioned the mediarelations thing, thathere's been a value at and it's been really kind ofan almost unexpected benefit. You know...

...as we're developing these storiesbecause we cover the university like a journalism unit. Would you know whatmakes a good story out there in the external media? Is that we use kind ofthe same criteria when we're looking for stories internally, when we do that,you know we're developing these assets all the time. You know we're developingthis map, we're getting these photos, these videos and what that's allowed is-is allowed our media relations team, the ability to really beef up theirpitches. So when they're going to these external mediaalest they're using ourmaterials is saying: Hey here's, this cool video, here's some photos, you'rewelcome to any, or none of it just wanted to. Let you know that we'reworking on this story, it'll publish at a given date, so it's really kind ofadded some strength to our media relations. Efforts as well, and we'veseen some good results as a part of that. Let's talk about the results,because I'm so curious about how you continue to get bying for this kind of effort and so yeah.Let's talk about results or o biggest...

...wins with any individual stories, so wehad one that comes to mind. We have researchers up in retrofitted gold,mine at South Dakota and they're a mile underground, and they are studyingreactions that create stars. So we went up there and we developed the story topublish on our site and a little while later it gets picked up in some sciencepublications. There was a pitch to NBC that resulted in that we had anotherone that landed and huff Po we've been in some other kind of niche physics,publications as well, so we've seen some some good results in the media,relations and placement side, but then also, we've seen really positiveresults on our main university website. Indeed, at DDU, where overall pageviews candidly have kind of declined over the past several years now westarted to reverse that trend. We've seen that level off and maybe tick up alittle bit as a result of kind of this...

...commitment to creating and experienceand dynamic content on the site. That's awesome, that's so awesome! Each of thelast two years it looks like you've produced about forty four long formcontent pieces is that the quantity quality kind of ratio that you'reshooting for each year yeah. You know, I think you know when Ido not talk before I said you know: Hey. We want to get to a month. Well, ThikGit's, like twenty four and Wewe, really surpassed what I thought wouldbe a good output for our team, so yeah. I think there's no mandate from our vicepresident or anything like that, that we have to do a certain number we'rejust trying to cover the university in the best way. We know how and sometimesthat has meant reacting almost in real time and getting a story up on thewebsite, with some really good, visuals and and some nice design elements youknow within twelve hours. So that's really why that number has kind ofticked up beyond that that to a month mark so yeah, you know my thing is: Iwant to do as many stories as we can do...

...well, and you know I've been veryfortunate that you know my bosses have h e bought into that approach. An andyou know, let me do that as part of what I do. You mentioned kind of thesupport for your unit comes from this higher level strategic goal, for youknow worldclass storytelling for noter dame any next TEPs advice for otherinstitutions who love the idea of having this kind of brandjonalismdepartment on campus. Where should they start first ind trying to win over their higher level leaders onthis kind of strategy? Well, I think they should do their research on kindof what's popular and why it's popular out there. I wouldn't go into thisthinking that I'm going to get my vice present to buy in, because I reallywant to do this and it looks cool. You know. There's tons of research outthere that talk about engagement, itd talks about storytelling time on page,even among millennials. Among you know your future college students they'respending more and more time online, if you can give them something to spendtime on so there's a lot of good case...

...studies out there that talk about you know delivering thatthat experience I would start there and then I would make sure you have accessto good design, talent and good writing. Town sounds really simple, but you knowif I did not have that. In fact we added that on a little bit later on asour team evolved. I wish I would have had that at day, one honestly as havinga designer right on my team that I could cbounce ideas off of so startwith design. Do Your Homework on why this thing could wook and hes such goodstuff? What is the best place for listeners to connect with you? I theyhave any followed questions. Yeah Hev me up on twitter, I'm at Andy AndyUnderscore Fuller, Fu, ll Er and you get a lot of Portland trail blazersreferences, but beyond that you'll. I do talk shot from time to time there aswell. So yeah hit me up awsagain thanks again, so much fere joining. U, today,Anvy absolutely are attracting today's...

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