Newsletter Strategy

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Excerpt from the last O365 email migration newsletter letting people know what resources they needed to successfully migrate their transition. View a larger version of the full newsletter.

With a university-wide rollout of Office 365, communication about the project was more important than ever. Not only was this change going to have an effect on email–the lifeline for communication at the university–but it was going to impact every single faculty and staff member. IT leadership requested an email notification; we gave them a designed weekly email update.

Finally, we were receiving positive feedback about our transparency and proactive communications. This newsletter was sent out from the IT@UC Help Desk every Wednesday notifying everyone of the project’s progress, what needed to be done before the migration, and available assistance after the migration.

As long as the project was sweeping through the university, our newsletter let them know all they needed to know.

As the O365 email migration portion of the project simmered down, a weekly email became unnecessary. But, we realized the need for transparent proactive communications was still not being met. Based on the success of the O365 newsletter, I formed a newsletter strategy that would meet these needs.

newsletter-outline

The idea was to phase out the weekly divisional email and create a new mid-monthly email in its place. This newsletter, the IT Insider, would update all central and divisional IT personnel about the projects currently impacting the university. Anyone can opt-in to this newsletter.

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An excerpt from the monthly IT Insider email newsletter. This newsletter keeps central and distributed IT abreast of what projects are going on in the division. View a larger version of the IT Insider newsletter.

So far, we’ve had good success with our newsletters with a 48.5% open rate (industry standard is ~25%) and 14.1% click rate (industry standard is ~5% click rate) in the second month.

Additionally, for central IT personnel, the IT Staff Council publishes a beginning of the month email. This newsletter fosters the “culture” of the division, highlighting divisional events, kudos, anniversaries, birthdays, and accomplishments. This, too, has had decent stats with ~47% open rate and 9% click rate.

Lastly, once a semester, the division will post a UC News article letting the university know about its accomplishments in relation to the university strategic direction.

All of these newsletters relate to our public website as well as keep in mind that a university-wide intranet is under development. As new channels for internal communication at the university arise, this strategy creates the framework for building upon good client communication moving forward.

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Accessibility Network at UC

This past spring semester our program initiated a campus-wide contest urging university students, faculty and staff to submit their ideas for our new name. Our original name, the “Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Program” was very long and unwieldy. It took about a month to plan and a couple of months to roll out, but we now have a new name we are proud of: The Accessibility Network at UC!

For anyone who’d like to take a look at the whole master plan, please read the PDF 2017_Naming Contest Post-Event Report. I will summarize the process in the remainder of this post.

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Website homepage illustrating where viewers were pushed to during the campaign.

The objectives of the event were to: 1) Rename the program to more clearly reflect our objectives, 2) Shorten the name so it is easier to use in communications, 3) Promote awareness about the EIT Accessibility Program, 4) Promote awareness about eAccessibility and 5) Lay the groundwork for advocates for the program.

All advertisements throughout the process were geared towards pushing audience towards our website, where we displayed a link to our survey on the homepage. Not only did this build awareness that we had a page, but the name suggestions had to be based on information from our website (i.e., in order to propose a name that had a chance of winning, you had to know a little bit about eAccessibility). Contest advertisements were distributed via email, digital displays, social media (social media press kits were distributed to page owners), E-Currents and Blackboard. In all, we saw 144 total responses to our survey; each containing 1 or more name submissions.

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We saw a good submission rate for our naming suggestion survey.

These names were narrowed to the top 20 choices by IT@UC’s communications office. They were further narrowed to the top 5 choices through a survey sent to the program’s communications advisory panel, consisting of communications employees across campus. These top five names were then released through another university-wide campaign to narrow to the top 2 choices. We collected 258 total responses in the second round of university-wide voting.

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Social media screens used in the campus-wide voting to choose the two name possibilities.

Once we had the two winning names, another vote took place among the program’s Executive Sponsors and Steering Committee members. Out of the 25 individuals invited, 14 elected to vote in the final survey. The winning submission was then endorsed by our Executive Sponsors (The Accessibility Network at UC).

To finish the contest off, we hosted a Naming Contest Reception for the winner and the community. Apple Distinguished Educator Luis Perez was invited to speak in the student center about electronic accessibility. We made it a big event for the whole team as well as anyone who walked by.

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Looking at the measurements of the contest’s success, I think we did a good job at hitting our marks. The new name is short, but appropriately descriptive of the program. The contest raised awareness of the program’s purpose and eAccessibility. And we gained new community interest in what the program was about, especially through the people who submitted names and the contest winner.