As the logo says I'm VERY 'proud
to be shortlisted!'
I launch into my second post of the year with some great news as this very blog has been shortlisted for a National Blog Award! This is as an organisation blog in the Education category. I'm particularly excited about this one as I'd put it forward a few months before Christmas and had forgotten I'd done so.

Whilst casually looking at the blog stats I then noticed I had some referral traffic from the Blog Awards website. A bit of further investigation showed that I'd made it through to the public vote - with just three days left before it closed! I sprang straight into action on a social media campaign to rally some votes which was enough to get me to the final shortlist and the judging stage.

Therefore, I'd like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all the readers who voted for me! Although it's a lot of work to keep this updated, whilst doing the day job, it's also very therapeutic. It's all too easy to think about what I don't manage to achieve at work that this is a great document of the projects which do get completed (and I like to think of myself as a 'glass half full' person!) It also is a great tool for getting some valuable internal buy in.

The awards ceremony is on Friday 25th April in London so hopefully I'll be there, in my cheap dinner suit, with a glass of champagne in my hand to do some networking (and nail biting!) I'd also like to give a quick shout out to Pure360 (our email marketing solution) for being shortlisted as an organisation blog in the Digital & Technology category. Now down to business...

Last week was a busy one as the entire team were working on the launch of the new Partnership and Community section. This has consisted on literally making something from nothing as it is all new content! Obviously, it's still a work in progress but it's great to have the skeleton now there laying a great groundwork for expanding this area. It's also been a good learning curve for the team to see how all of our skills compliment each other - I've developed the project plan and homepage visual, Graeme's built the homepage, Elisabeth and Angela have got the site structure up and running and approved the content and Lauren has designed the graphics and the right column. Some great team work!

It was great to see our students
presenting their digital marketing ideas
so eloquently
It's also been a good few weeks for gaining new knowledge. I have now seen through to completion a project I started a few months ago by grading the projects of our MSc Business Web Analytics and Management students. They came up with some great ideas to better market their course, presented them very well and I really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the curriculum again. Needless to say they all passed with flying colours. and I may well be using some of their ideas...

Finally, Lauren and Angela attended an internally run SEO course which was in equal parts interesting and reassuring (as these courses often are!)

To close this post I'd like to say thank you again to everyone who reads and voted for this blog and I'll try my best to ensure that I add some unique and interesting insights into what the team has been up to in the future. Above all I hope to show that work CAN be fun!
So, here it goes for another year... As an indicator of how we've had to hit the ground running it's taken me a good few weeks to get around to this blog post. Since Monday I've been on the second stage of my IDM Diploma in Teddington and am writing this from the bar of the hotel in which I'm staying in Hampton Court after just wishing my kids goodnight via Facetime - the best thing work ever did was give me this laptop!

My view as I write this post -
(The Kings Arms, Hampton Court)
It's been a good few days so far with some great lectures on brand, social media and campaign planning and I now have a big list of actions to take back to the office. We've also been informed that the qualification we've been studying for has been upgraded to a Postgraduate Digital Marketing Diploma (PG DipDigM) meaning if I pass I get an extra two letters after my name! It's all looking good so far too as I passed my first assignment with flying colours. Let's hope I can keep up the momentum...

As far as work is concerned, the team has already been busy with some new innovations. The first of these being that we are now displaying unit information on our course pages. This has been a real team effort between our ICT department, Squiz and myself and brings us up to speed with our competitors. What it means is that each course page shows the units which are currently being studied on each course. This data comes directly from our SITS database and is updated nightly so should always be completely accurate and gives a much more detailed overview of the exact content of each course.

'This page is now offline as it hasn't
been updated since 2003...'
The team also spent a day at Squiz getting some bespoke training on asset listings and their applications. It was really great stuff and has not only allowed us to better understand and automate our front end lists but also our back end reporting. The latter is evidenced by our latest report showing the most active departments in removing content from their sections (people are great at putting content online but rubbish at removing it) and who needs to try harder!

Today we've also gone live with our phase 2 of our events calendar. This allows the functionality of adding key dates and most excitingly customised embeddable calendars. The way these work is users add their events to the calendar as usual but can then apply a number of filters (e.g. location, department) and use the code it generates to embed a bespoke version into their own section of the site. Very useful for all as it allows the user to highlight just their events but also keeps everything held centrally.

In other news, I've taken part in my first set of interviews for the year for Marketing Officer which were very enjoyable (but tiring!) and have worked with our colleagues in Student Services to launch a whole new Careers section. I've also been working with our Education and Sport department to create a number of new films highlighting each of their departments (Teacher Education, Education Studies and English Language & Communication). The content of these was developed by the faculty themselves with our input in helping to select a production company, briefing them on our brand and working on a seeding strategy to ensure maximum impact. We're particularly happy with one which was produced to highlight the opportunity for students to take part in work placements at Club Le Santa in Lanzarote:

Anyway, time to sign off as my bar snacks have just arrived! It's been good to get back into my blogging groove and here's to a fantastic 2014...
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