Mansfield University’s Journey into the Social Media World

These are notes from a presentation I gave at CUPRAP in Oct. 2009, hoping they’ll be helpful to the audience and my general readers.

Started with podcasting in Oct. 2005. We began with the concept of weekly interviewing freshmen to get their experience, growth, learning first hand as they experienced it. We branched out into interviews with faculty, administration, other students, alumni. We’ve done more than 200 shows and get about 500 hits a month from 10 countries around the world.
Conclusion: Start with a solid concept, knowing your show will evolve. This is the way of social media: content must be good; evolution is inevitable.

Two years ago we began producing and uploading videos on YouTube.
Later, IT created a Mansfield YouTube channel so all videos are uploaded there.
We use Animoto. Upload slides, choose music and it will play the slides in synch with the music. We’ve had a lot of success with it.
IT created Mansfield Facebook page. They synched our news page with so whenever our news director posts a news release it appears on Facebook.
IT ran photo contests and drawings to attract fans. We have about 1300 fans, not bad for a university of 3500 students.
Created Mansfield Twitter. Jury still out on that.

Last spring I started a weekly half hour TV talk show called Conversations.
Concept: 1-2 guests that will be of interest to cable viewers. No special effects. Some B-roll to break things up. Sometimes we go into the field for interviews. Informal dress to avoid image of stuffiness. No ties allowed.
The show has no budget. The only cost is my time and the time of my producer to record and edit it.
We also upload the show to YouTube.

Summer 2009 I started the MU Blog.
Concept: 300 words or less. Can be read in two minutes, but have enough links that it can last two hours. I try to find off beat and human interest things. Try to include as many photos as possible. In one blog linked to photos, web sites, video and podcast.
Whenever I publish a post, I announce it on my Facebook, Twitter, & our internal daily announcement list.
The blog underscores another important concept — on the Web there is no  linear time. I can link to videos and podcasts done a year or two ago. To my blog audience, it’s all new.

The blog opens a whole new world of quick, direct writing, a world of subjects, and multimedia links.

September 2009 Terry’s Take, a 2-minute video news cast went live. Again, no budget. Terry records directly into a web cam, does very light editing and posts. Content is news of interest to faculty and students.

Our home page has become the center of all news activity. It’s where people  go to find news and answers.

in 2008 we formed the Web Advisory Group and meet monthly — the admissions director, news director, myself and IT folks.

The above sounds overwhelming, but you must jump into it. There are perceived challenges:
-the administration doesn’t understand the new technology or the social sites
-administration is wary of it and are afraid of losing control of the university image and message (they’ve already lost it)
-administration is wary of letting you take control because they don’t understand (teach them)
-you don’t understand the full scope of the new media (learn — quickly)
-you don’t have the technical expertise or experience to do a blog or TV show or podcast (well, learn it!)

Other Notes:
Traditional media is plunging into irrelevancy.
Students, parents, alumni, are talking about you in various social media settings.
You need forums where you can engage the above in conversations and share your institution’s stories.
You don’t shotgun your message out and hope people see it and believe it. They find you and if your message, your story is simple, real and sincere, they’ll follow you.

Quality has taken back seat to content. If you have good content you can get away with lesser quality. Cannot have bad content and bad quality.

Excellent quality with bad content is also worthless.

To stay up-to-date with social media, subscribe to:

Recommended reading:

Putting the Public Back in Public Relations by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge. This is the book on how social media is reinventing PR.


Questions?  Email me at Put in the subject heading CUPRAP

Note: CUPRAP is the best PR organization in the world.


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