Takeaways from Confab Higher Ed 2013

In November I attended the Confab Higher Ed conference in Atlanta. This was the first time a Confab conference was focused solely on content strategy for higher education institutions, and it was also my first Confab conference.

Confab Higher Ed conference

Session recaps

Below are some takeaways from two of my favorite sessions:

Transmedia Storytelling in Higher Education

Felicia Pride’s presentation on the concept of utilizing transmedia to tell your stories contradicted the COPE (create once, publish everywhere) mentality advocated for by the majority of presenters at Confab, and was a welcome variation on how to approach disseminating your content. Transmedia focuses on story research and development, looking for ways we can allow people to experience a story in more than one way, with a focus on making the subject the protagonist of a story. Henry Jenkins defines this concept as:

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.

The goal of storytelling in a transmedia context is to let each platform – whether that is a social media platform, video, long-form text piece, photo, etc. – do what it does best. We as content creators simply need to know the place where people are telling their stories, rather than forcing people to come to us. Finally, there are seven questions content strategists must ask themselves as they create and publish stories in order to successfully utilize a transmedia approach:

  1. What’s the story (goal)?
  2. What are the elements (message, plot, characters)?
  3. What actions do you want your audience to take?
  4. How do we tell the story (what platforms/where is our audience)?
  5. How do we share our story?
  6. How do we measure the impact of our story?
  7. How will we continue our story?

Fit to Print: Creating Purposeful News Content

Georgy Cohen gave a great presentation as always, this time focusing on how news content can live beyond the typical news release. Analytics tell us that less than 1% of our site visitors view news releases, so we need find better ways to tell our story through our news releases, and allow these news stories to be content generators rather than an end destination.

Such an approach hinges on news releases being written in a way that allows for social sharing; news needs to speak the language of social to excel at social. This involves rewriting headlines and excerpts for different social platforms, taking the time to include visually interesting photos and videos with our news stories, and allowing for user interaction and sharing.

Other conference recaps

Conference recaps, presentation slides, and presentation storify recaps have all been collected on Meet Content if you would like see other presentations and read more impressions from other attendees.

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