As communication channels continue to evolve the integration of digital platforms has become a necessity rather than an option. And while many of the brand guidelines outlined for print remain relevant there are additional specifications pertaining to digital communications.
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) web presence exists primarily within the CCIU site. All programs, schools and divisions must work within the existing website framework and shall not establish separate external website locations. Some exceptions may be made for partnerships with external organizations, but permission must be requested through Communications.
Development of sections and pages within the CCIU site framework allows for the consistent implementation of branding elements including header images, navigation and footer information.
Website editors have been assigned within each CCIU division to assist in maintaining accurate and up-to-date information for each school, program and service. These trained editors have the ability to add and/or edit page content. The following should be considered, however, when adding content:
- Know your audience. Think about how your intended audience will search for information or what information they may want to find rather than developing pages and content based on internal CCIU structure.
- Minimize repetition. Recognize where information may already exist and look to cross-link rather than duplicating information. It helps to streamline information and makes it easier to track where updates may be necessary.
- Think visual. Reading lengthy copy on-screen can be difficult, so look for ways to communicate information through visuals or to break up long text with photos or video capture.
- Link smartly. Providing viewers with downloadable resources can be very helpful but be aware of copyrights. Posting of external content for download requires usage agreements.
- Be timely. Set aside time each month to review what activities are occurring within your division, school or program and update your pages. Even short updates about past events, upcoming activities or a regular blog/advice column can ensure a more engaged viewing audience. Be sure to also include a review of program information to make sure personnel, contact information and descriptions are accurate.
For larger website changes, including section additions and restructuring or for help in identifying your division’s assigned website editors, please contact Communications.
Social media can be a very exciting, real-time method for communicating with our audience, but with that opportunity comes great responsibility. The creation of a social media account requires planning and a dedicated commitment to ongoing management. Account owners must be willing to remain engaged and understand that social media lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Inactive accounts reflect badly on the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). As such, all requested accounts must be approved by Communications.
When considering a social media account, please consider the following:
- Why do you want to create a social media account? – The reason should be more than just to reach more people. There needs to be a short- and long-term strategy behind it.
- Will you be able to create engaging content on a consistent basis? – The highest level of success comes from a mix of your own content and the content of others, as well as invitations to interact. While there is no magic number, a general rule of thumb is at least 1-2 posts per week.
- Is there already an account with a similar audience? – Development of an online following takes time and requires deliberate marketing, so if there is an account that already exists with your audience, see if you can work together.
- Are you able to commit a single point person to monitor the account? – The advantage, and at times disadvantage, of social media is the ability for two-way, real-time communication and group sharing. Questions, comments, tags, hashtags and more require immediate attention and require appropriate, media-trained responses.
Once an account has been established, the following considerations must be adhered to when posting:
- Be always cognizant of the CCIU message and editorial voice. Every post should reflect the brand appropriately. Be engaging and authentic.
- All photos used must have the appropriate rights of usage. Model release forms must be signed for all students within a photo. Do not copy photos off the web - this is copyright infringement!
- Remember that social media is more like a conversation. Talk to your followers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own personality. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites a response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are writing about the same topic.
- Are you adding value? Social posts should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. In general, social media content adds value if it enhances readers’ knowledge or skills, assists in solving problems or helps people understand the CCIU better.
- What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Stick to your area of expertise. Don’t comment on inquiries out of your realm of expertise. If in doubt, always ask before responding. If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction.
- Be careful about grammar and spelling errors; consider having someone else check your posts.
- Be diligent about fact-checking. Never spread false or inaccurate information or speculate about a situation or something else that could happen in the future. Do not comment on rumors.
- When possible, pause and let the community police negative comments; if necessary, contact Communications if a situation gets out of hand. Don’t fuel fires or engage in a war of words with commenters.
FOR ALL CCIU EMPLOYEES: In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as a CCIU employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and the organization by our stakeholders, students and the general public—and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with CCIU’s values and professional standards.
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU)’s website is home to many schools, programs and services which can make it difficult to point an audience to a specific section or page. In order to enable more direct linking opportunities, the CCIU has approved the use of three web shortcut options: URL redirects, shortened URLs and QR codes.
A URL redirect is when you develop a school-specific URL address that then redirects to the specific site or section for that school within the www.cciu.org website. This shortcut is most valuable for our CCIU schools where audiences may be searching for a website specific to the school’s name. There are additional costs and set-up required for this type of short-cut, so specific approvals must be obtained not only from Communications but also from IT.
Existing URL redirects include:
- technicalcollegehighschool.org - redirects to main TCHS landing page
- tchsbrandywine.org - redirects to homepage of TCHS Brandywine
- tchspennocks.org - redirects to homepage of TCHS Pennock’s Bridge
- tchspickering.org - redirects to homepage of TCHS Pickering
- chestercountynursing.org - redirects to homepage of the Practical Nursing Program
- bvapa.org - redirects to homepage of Brandywine Virtual Academy
A shortened URL is, in essence, a naming structure that condenses the actual page URL down to a more user-friendly version. All shortened URLs will begin with www.cciu.org and will then follow with a backslash (/) and a chosen name extension. For example, www.cciu.org/preschool is a shortened URL that directs visitors to the main preschool special education landing page.
Communications can assist you with the development of a shortened URL. Please consider the following before requesting a shortened URL:
Will the shortened URL be mentioned in marketing materials specific to the directed page? Shortened URLs are needed primarily when websites are mentioned within print marketing collateral. If the page will not be specifically promoted or will only be promoted via digital methods, a shortened URL is often unnecessary.
Is your name extension short and relevant? The purpose of a shortened URL is to make it easier for your audience not only to remember the website but be able to access the page easier. While the name extension should accurately reflect the page it will link to, the character length should be kept to a minimum. For example, rather than selecting a shortened URL of www.cciu.org/SummerCareerAcademies, consider www.cciu.org/summer or www.cciu.org/SCA. Remember the URL needs to be most relevant to the audience you are targeting, not to our own names or filing structure.
QR Code A QR code, similar to a barcode, is a very visual short-cut that enables viewers to use the QR reader app on their mobile device to read a code that then automatically redirects to the identified web page.
There are a number of free resources available online to develop your own QR code, but it is highly recommended that all QR codes be developed through a centralized resource within your division or through Communications. This helps ensure consistency and a well-maintained library of QR code images. The following two resources are recommended:
- QR Code Monkey - Provides free QR code generation with the capability to alter color and add imagery
- QR Code Generator - Expands capabilities for tracking and updating, but with a small fee. This is only recommended for more extensive QR code usage.
When integrating a QR code into a marketing piece, please keep in mind the following:
- The size of the QR code is important! A simple rule of thumb is that the Minimum QR Code Size = Scanning Distance/10. For example, if you are to place a QR code on a flyer minimum size might be 1,” meaning that the viewer would have their phone 10” away in order to capture it. For a poster that would be hanging, the viewer might not be able to get up so close. If they were to stand two feet away, the QR code should be at minimum 2.4.”
- A QR code by design will be utilized by someone with a mobile device, so the website the code links to should also be mobile-friendly. The www.cciu.org website was revamped in 2016 to enable mobile-friendly viewing, but if you are to link to an external page be sure it can be appropriately viewed.
- A QR code should be utilized when driving action. Mobile users are less likely to utilize a QR code when seeking general information, but if clicking on the code enables them to sign-up for a special event or receive a special incentive, they may be more inclined to do so.