University of Minnesota
University Relations
Our Brand: How to Convey It

Our Brand: How to Convey It.

May 2009 Archives

When the review process for the WWW publishing policy began, we realized that this policy should expand to cover more than just the Web. All electronic communications needed to be represented, just as they are on the eCommunication Standards site. With that in mind, some sections of the policy are being updated and new sections are being created.

The sections that are being updated and clarified include the paragraphs about sponsorship, the online advertising space paragraph, and the paragraph related to use of personal Web space. We are discussing the sponsorship issue with a number of colleges and centers. The two main questions related to sponsorship are branding (can the site be in the University templates?) and site location (should the site be on a server or should it be a .org?). We are talking with OIT about personal Web space on central servers vs colleges providing personal Web space to their students, faculty, and staff.

New sections that are being written and discussed include those on social networking; audio, video, and slide shows; and mass e-mail. We already have an extensive amount of information regarding mass e-mail on the eCommunication Standards site. Some of that will make it into the policy, particularly the information on the Mailing Lists page.

To help units easily identify what is required, a bulleted list of requirements—similar to what can be seen on the first page of the current policy—is being created for each type of communication.

We're still in the beginning phase of this policy change and, depending on when we're able to fit in the University's policy review schedule, don't anticipate having all the changes approved until fall '09 at the soonest. If you would like to share your thoughts on changes to the WWW publishing policy, please comment here or send an e-mail.

Just What is Social Networking?

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The investigation into guidelines for use of social networking sites by University units is moving along. One of the items we're discussing is a definition of "social networking." We all agree that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace obviously fit the criteria. But what about a listserv or a forum discussion? Does the ability to Digg a site have anything to do with social networking?

Webster's defines social networking as " the use of a website to connect with people who share personal or professional interests, place of origin, education at a particular school, etc." This definition limits social networking to Web sites, so a listserv would not qualify.

I recently came across a page on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations site for social media guidlines. Listservs are not mentioned in these guidelines either, but content sharing sites, such as flickr and You Tube are. So, would that mean that NetFiles would be considered a social networking site for the U of M? It doesn't seem likely. Perhaps we need to stipulate that a social networking site be interactive, not passive.

If you have any ideas that may help us define social networking, please comment on this entry or send them my way.

I thought I'd list a few of the other articles I've found about social networking, for anyone who might be interested.

New Policy Is Official

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The Use of University Trademarks, Logos, Colors and Seal policy is now official. The Graphic Standards site has been updated to reflect the policy and will be your source for the most up to date graphic standards information. In addition, there are new resources available, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and InDesign templates; updated wordmark and unit combination templates; and templates for the Web header and footer.

University Relations is available to consult on the brand policy specifics, help with developing your wordmark and unit combinations, advise on transitioning to the Web header and footer and answer any other questions you may have.

We will also be scheduling workshops in June to answer any questions you may have regarding the policy and related standards. If you are interested in attending a workshop, please e-mail Laura Johnson.

Hook, line, and sinker

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There’s been an awful lot of talk in the past few days about Governor Pawlenty’s plans for the fishing opener. The Governor has asked a sportsman from White Bear Lake to be his guide and they are scheduled to leave at 3:30 a.m. Yup – in the middle of the night. Yikes! Is catching a fish worth getting up that early?

As I thought about the steps the Governor is taking to ensure a successful opener, it seemed to have many similarities to University Relations' approach with the interactive campus maps project.

For example:

Identifying a subject matter expert
Governor: The fishing host the Governor selected has been hitting White Bear Lake since he was a little boy. Presumably, the fishing guru knows his stuff.

University Relations: The Geographic Information System (GIS) team within University Services is comprised of experts who live and breathe latitude and longitude. These folks are super-smart and are the ones UR is relying on.

Preparing for the event
Governor: There’s a picnic and all other sorts of festivities planned for the night before the opener. And, from the sounds of it – White Bear Lake has been sprucing up its venues for the official’s visit.

University Relations: I don’t think there’s a way I can compare this project to a picnic. But, what I can say is UR is in midst of lots of preparations including consulting with Disability Services, holding focus groups with faculty/staff/students, working hand-in-hand with Parking and Transportation Services, and seeking the wisdom of the Cartography Lab.

Using proper tools
Governor: Odds are the Governor will be using a fishing rod, proper tackle and lure, as well as some sort of fishfinder electronic gadget.

University Relations: The U has invested in the top-of-the-line software from ESRI. ESRI is the world leader in GIS (geographic information system) modeling and mapping software and technology.

Timing the launch
Governor: Yes, he is heading out at 3:30 a.m. to achieve the most successful results.

University Relations: Okay – we do not wake up at 3:30 a.m. to work on this project. However, we have a schedule and are sticking to it in order to achieve our goals.

Measuring key performance indicators
Governor: I think every fish story I’ve ever seen has included the weight and length of the poor fishie.

University Relations: No doubt about it. UR will be reviewing analytics, measuring traffic, and working with colleagues across the campus to ensure the map is meeting the University’s business needs.

Celebrating success
Governor: With all the right timing and tools, it seems the Governor has a fairly decent chance of landing a prize-winning Nemo and getting his photo op.

University Relations: By dividing the project into manageable phases, partnering with key stakeholders, and keeping our eye on the prize, most certainly completing the interactive maps project will be like catching the big one – hook, line, and sinker.


Events Calendar Update

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As promised in my previous post, here are the functional requirements that we currently have for the events calendar. There are two documents that are related to the functional requirements, the first is the requirements document while the second document is an Microsoft Excel spreadsheet detailing the various fields available to an event. We would like to receive as much feedback as possible, so if you have any feedback, please send it to We have met with groups like the College of Liberal Arts, College of Design, and Duluth and they have provided excellent feedback on the functional requirements. Again, if any groups would like us to meet with them to discuss the functional requirements, please contact me at

Our timeline going forward will be fairly aggressive as we would like to have the system operational sometime during the fall semester. Starting in mid-May, we will be taking the functional requirements that we have created and start looking at the technical solutions available to implement the system. In addition to starting to finding a technical solution, we have already starting to work on page designs for the main events page. While we have not scheduled usability testing as of yet, but we will plan on having the site go through usability testing either before or after the new site is launched.

- Functional Requirements
- Field Listing Requirements

Header sizes and a bad example

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Back during the winter when UR was meeting with groups regarding the new web templates, one of the issues that came up was the header size. Based on this feedback, we went back and tried to shorten the U header. We were successful in that we were able to shrink the header down further. In addition to shrinking it down, we compared our headers to other sites to see where we landed and we actually have a smaller header than most of the sites we compared.

Now, whenever someone mentions that they have a new website, I take a quick look to see how they did the design of their site. Some are good and some are bad, but I think I found the worst yet. Check out, the header is about 620 pixels high, and all the content is below the fold. This makes the U header seem small in comparison. Whether you think the U header is just fine or too tall, I think this site gets the gold for header height.

May 15 Mass E-mail User Group meeting

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The next meeting of the mass e-mail user group is May 15 from 2-3:30 in Morrill Hall room 238A.

The main presentation will be given by Christina Morgan, E-Communications Specialist for the University of Minnesota Foundation. She will be presenting on the use of conditional scripting in Lyris ListManager. She writes:

"We had a situation where we made good use of conditional scripting to merge additional fields and messages into the email only if certain conditions had been met. The presentation is geared toward users who maintain their own lists (i.e. don’t solely email to gel and gil segments), and who are interested in taking advantage of one of Lyris’ more advanced features."

For those of you not familiar with the 'GEL' and 'GIL' acronyms she mentions, these stand for "global external list" and "global internal list," which are list segments in Lyris that contain alumni, donors, and friends of the University (GEL) or staff and students (GIL).

This presentation will be more technical than most, but don't let that phase you, there's a communications angle to this, as well. It's trivial to personalize messages by merging, such as the recipient's first name into the greeting, but this presentation will address how to customize messages using demographic and other data.

For more information, including how users on coordinate campuses can attend, see the Mass E-mail User Group Web page.