The Benefits of Consuming a Balanced Media Diet

As I come upon the 9-month mark as the Digital and Social Media Specialist, I’ve thought about how I’ve adjusted to stay up on local news that may affect us from the local giant Main Line Media News Network (Main Line Times, Main Line Suburban Life, Main Line Media News, etc) to the regional Philly Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and local NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates.

In addition to (trying to) stay in the know about what’s happening locally, I’ve made a concerted effort to ensure I have a wider worldview by reading the New York Times, WIRED, and the (Atlantic) Wire.

While it’s good to generally be well-informed about what’s happening outside my own backyard because what’s decided far away can affect me (like Pope visiting Philadelphia in September), it’s important to be aware of what’s happening far from home professionally.

If you look at the homepage peer institutions like Westtown School, Shipley School, and Germantown Friends School you’ll see areas of commonality (a homepage image slide, similar L1 links (about/welcome admission/admissions, program/academics, campus life/news, etc). This is because our schools provide similar services and our audiences are generally interested in getting to similar pages on our websites (Upper School Curriculum, College Matriculation lists, what alumni are doing, etc). As long as our site is on par with our peers, it generally isn’t a priority to improve it. .

However,  by looking at subsites, like social.suffolk.edu, one can find great examples that schools can emulate (social.friendscentral.org).

Additionally by going beyond the award lists, into what individual schools produce day-to-day, one can come across great examples of marketing content to emulate, like Chicago Booth School’s videos.

While schools of our size aren’t able to reproduce the technical quality of these videos, can attempt to capture the essence of a school or student experience like this example from Hebron I produced last year.

Likewise, whereas we don’t have the digital strategy staff that Harvard does, reading what Digital Content Strategist Mike Petroff has to say about measuring digital engagement on Medium led me to his “Best Practices for Tracking Campaigns in Google Analytics” document which informs not only a report I’m working on but how I can explain sometimes complicated ideas in a more succinct way.

Since entering the higher ed digital/social media field four years ago (times goes by quickly) working at Mount Allison University, there has been an explosion in the number of possible sources. I keep Higher Ed Live (now owned by mStoner), CASE blog, EduGuru (now part of Converge Consulting), Social Media for Colleges, Luna Metrics, Google Analytics Blog and more in my feedly list. Especially in such a fast-moving field, it’s important to stay current and have a larger perspective in addition to being aware of what’s happening locally (like Westtown’s award-winning website, which is informed by standard on writing for the web).

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About Geoff Campbell

Geoff Campbell is an Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing at American University.

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