the sally sisson blog


August 23, 2013

Best University Website Ever?


Monsters University best college website

Could be. This parody of a university website pretty much nails it. Created by clever minds at Pixar (to promote the Monsters U movie), it has all the elements: video testimonials, faculty profiles, an events calendar, even a school store. The only thing missing is a blog feed.

Over the years I’ve done communications, marketing and website work for K-12 schools, universities and education marketing clients, and I’ve spent a lot of time examining competitor websites and enrollment pitches. So when I saw the Monsters University website for the first time I had to laugh at the uncanny resemblance to the real thing.

college admissions videoAnd when I watched the Message from the Dean (see right), I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cringe. Have I scripted something scarily similar? Err…possibly.

I visited the website frequently this year, as I worked on the Monsters U marketing campaign with SubwayKids.com (wearing my copywriting hat). Each time I clicked I discovered another hilarious, spot-on piece of content. Food for thought as we head back to school and gear up for a new season of enrollment marketing. Here’s to fewer clichés and fresher ideas ahead!

Student ID card

Further reading on the Monsters U website and higher education marketing:

Future Comms: Scare Tactics
Go have a look at the site. It’s pretty much THE American university website. In fact, it’s a really good global university website… But what should we, in the Higher Ed community, really take from all this?
1. It’s not a university website. It’s a really good promotion for a multi-million dollar film made by a multi-billion dollar company. It’s just part of an annual ad budget that Adage cited as $2.1b in 2011.

Bob Johnson’s Blog on Higher Education Marketing
What do you get when you assemble every cliché about a higher education website in a single parody? The Monsters University website. Do not miss the intro to Academics with an opening video “Message from the Dean for Prospective Students.”

Sally Sisson Blog: Web Content and the Eternal Home Page Question: How much is too much?
Lessons learned from “Beyond the University Website – The Future of Digital Marketing in Higher Education.”

 

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February 5, 2013

Creative Inspiration: Finding your bliss (on a bleak February day)

He Was Me: The power of storytelling

A sweet (yet powerful) little ditty on doing what you love. If not for a living, then at least for a while each day.

This FableSnack, a short animated film from the prolific folks at FableVision, is about “the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world.” It reminds us to not “trade joy for a job,” as FableVision’s Paul Reynolds puts it. Not always easy, but always worth remembering.

It was written and drawn by the talented Peter H. Reynolds, author and illustrator of The Dot, Ish and dozens of other delightful children’s books and multimedia products.

I knew Peter, founder of FableVision, and his twin brother Paul, now CEO, back in our college days and had a hunch they’d go on to do great things. Doing such inspired and meaningful work on such a grand scale is a great thing indeed. Being rockstar media producers and such nice, grounded people at the same time is even greater.

Read their story here:

About FableVision
In 1996, FableVision’s founder, Peter H. Reynolds, had a vision: to create a “social change agency” to help move the world to a better place. FableVision is dedicated to helping ALL learners reach their full potential and to telling “stories that matter, stories that move.”

…and get inspired yourself!

The Stellar Cafe
The Dot FableVisionInsights gathered along the journey about creativity, art, teaching, learning, life – Peter H. Reynolds

Peter’s Tips on Creativity
Creative thinking is the fuel for getting things going. Dreaming about the project is a huge part of the process. The actual ‘doing’ requires following through on the dream, but the dream is the rough sketch.

A Film by FableVision Studios: He Was Me
Written and drawn by Peter H. Reynolds, He Was Me is a quiet story about the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world. In the film, as a man waits at a bus stop in the rain, his inner child is brought poignantly to life as he reflects on his past and ponders his future.

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November 12, 2012

Online content and social media promote healthy school, community and corporate partnerships

The Energy Balance 101: Enrichment Zone web content I developed last spring for the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is now live on TogetherCounts.com, and I’m excited to see kids already participating in these first weeks of September.

Developed to complement the existing standards-based Energy Balance 101 curriculum for grades K-5, the Enrichment Zone is a flexible program designed for after-school programs, clubs and community organizations across the country.

I’ve had a hard time explaining to people what it is, who it’s for and who’s behind it, so here’s the skinny:

HWCF + Together Counts!

What is the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation? It is a CEO-led coalition of over 200 organizations working together to help families and schools reduce obesity – especially childhood obesity – by 2015. With corporate heads from General Mills, Inc., Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.; Kraft Foods and Kellogg’s; Anytime Fitness and Sports Authority;  Hershey, Nestlé and Mars at the table, the impact is significant.

How is Michelle Obama involved? In May 2010 the First Lady, founder of initiatives like Let’s Move! and Partnership for a Healthier America, announced with HWCF companies their pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories annually by the end of 2015. These changes are being made through new lower-calorie options, reduced calorie content of current products, and reduced portion sizes of existing single-serving products.

HWCF + Discovery Education

Next the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation set its sight on the nation’s elementary schools. Developed in partnership with Discovery Education, the Energy Balance 101 program provides schools with a free online K-5 curriculum and resources to help kids lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

Energy Balance 101 Discovery Education Building on the success of its program in the schools, EB 101 began extending its reach to the home and out in the community. Fueled by a successful brand and social media campaign, the TogetherCounts movement has a wide following (and 12,000 followers on Twitter!). Check out this cute and super-quick Together Counts! animation to get what the movement what it’s all about:

Together Counts

Watch: What is Together Counts?

The next phase is underway. HWCF is rolling out programs and activities for kids, parents, families and community groups outside of school. Here’s where I come in. The Energy Balance 101: Enrichment Zone is now being used by after-school teachers, Girl Scout leaders, parents… pretty much anyone interested. More flexible than the in-school curriculum, it is modular in format to suite a range of programs and schedules.

The lessons and activities incorporate and reinforce Energy Balance 101 concepts; promote physical activity after school and on weekends; and inspire students to make healthy choices and be mindful of their daily Energy Balance for life.

Organizations like the following have already signed on as Enrichment Zone partners:

    • Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.
    • U.S. Soccer Foundation
    • National Recreation and Park Association
    • K. Kellogg Foundation
    • Gen Youth Foundation
    • Paul Pierce’s The Truth onHealth
    • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Together Counts!

Although separated into different web sites last year, all of the above can now be found in one place: TogetherCounts.com.

Here you’ll find interactive features and active social media channels for schools, homes and community organizations. It’s a fun way to track who’s doing what in K-5 schools across the country.

Check out the blogs, tweets and posts from schools and organizations already actively participating. I’ll be helping out with a pilot after-school program at Inly School in Scituate, MA and will blogging about the experience along the way. I’ll keep you posted!

Links and Resources:

Michelle Obama’s speech at the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation partnership announcement

Mars Candy And Michelle Obama Are Making Candy Bars Smaller — And Twitter Is FREAKING Out

 

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