Top Line Result: A communications hub provides a single, integrated platform for publishing University news across all important channels, including social media and email.
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. With multiple campuses, over 9,000 students and over 4,000 faculty and staff, communicating with stakeholders requires several channels every day. The university needed a news website that followed best communications practices. Members of the University community, alumni, friends and members of the public needed to be kept informed about news and events. In addition, the site needed to consolidate multiple channels of communication into a single interface that was convenient for communications staff and for target audiences. Social media and user-generated content needed to be integrated with operations infrastructure.
- The Tufts University communications team had multiple properties serving different constituencies, including:
- Tufts E-News, an online news portal managed by the Office of Web Communications.
- The Tufts Journal, a web site managed by the Office of Publications.
- Multiple social media presences, including the official Tufts University Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr accounts.
- Separate email newsletters for E-News and the Tufts Journal - sent to staff, faculty, media, students, parents, and alumni bi-weekly - that needed to be merged into a single newsletter with a look and feel consistent with the main news site..
- News releases targeted at external news channels.
Strategy & Solution
The university selected OHO Interactive to design a new, comprehensive communications site, Tufts Now, that would serve all its constituencies and consolidate workflows into a simpler interface:
- Navigation divides news and resources into topics such as Arts & Culture and Health & Science, making it easier for both journalists and community members to find news of interest.
- An Ask the Expert segment allows members of the Tufts community and the public to ask a question on any topic, from nutrition to veterinary medicine to politics. The communications staff identify an appropriate faculty member to answer it, publishing the reply to the homepage. This enables the University to highlight the expertise of Tufts faculty and allows users a say in site content.
- Featured Events on the top of the homepage and multiple pages within the site provide access to upcoming events across departments without searching for information.
- A Spotlight segment on the homepage, which can feature an image, video, or slideshow, is updated on a daily basis to keep the homepage visuals fresh and relevant.
- Featured Blog segments on the left of the homepage give different students, faculty, and departments the opportunity to have their content highlighted on the main page.
- Additional interactivity is provided by a polling feature, which allows communications staff to poll the university community on issues large and small.
- PR staff can upload news releases, publishing them to the site by category. The most important or recent news releases can be published to the homepage for higher visibility from this interface as well.
- External news coverage of Tufts can also be published to the site, with links to the original articles.
- The layout highlights the main news story with a large image, with four additional stories underneath to provide an intuitive information architecture that communicates the importance/currency of different stories visually.
- Readers can also easily browse photos and videos that capture what’s happening at Tufts, as well as see recent Facebook and Twitter posts, right on the Tufts Now homepage.
To integrate Tufts’ online and email communications, OHO also created an HTML email template for a bi-weekly newsletter, closely matching the look and feel of the Tufts Now website. The site was built on Drupal, using the platform as a flexible CMS to allow self-service by staff and extensibility as needs change. Tufts Now won a Bronze award in Education Institution category in the 2011 Summit Creative Awards.