University News Made Digital

This session has been cancelled due to the unavailability of the speaker.

Research has shown that digital users are rarely interested in the press release articles which are often shown under a ‘News’ heading on a university website. Back in 2013, Paul Boag quoted a report from Chris Scott who stated that “less than 1% of visitors view a news release”. The digital communications team at the University of St Andrews found similar results when looking at the data surrounding press release news stories on the St Andrews website.

In order to produce and promote news which meets user needs and increases engagement, the digital communications team wanted to understand the purpose of news on the St Andrews website, and whether there was a better way to meet the needs of the institution.

After engaging with stakeholders and colleagues in Corporate Communications and the news team, we came to understand that the news team aims to promote the research findings, teaching excellence and current initiatives of the University, both via external media sources and through direct communication with those connected to St Andrews. There is a requirement to provide information both to journalists, via traditional press releases, and digital users, who expect news to be immediate, relevant and engaging.

Today, the digital communications team works with the news team to create a new type of news content for the University website. The content is created with users in mind; covering topics which analysis has shown there to be an interest in, and incorporating vivid images, compelling video content and exclusive interviews. The stories – no longer promoted as ‘news’ – are not time sensitive, and are promoted on the University homepage and social media accounts for a one-month period.

We believe that our approach puts us at the forefront of curating, moulding and promoting news in UK higher education; and we intend to integrate long form stories into our digital toolkit for future projects. With websites such as Buzzfeed, Vice and Pitchfork creating regular long form stories, Medium providing a platform to create long form stories, and Forbes advocating the use of this channel to communicate with millennials, we can only see the attraction of these stories growing.

In this workshop Carley Hollis of the University of St Andrews digital communications team, will describe the approaches taken and will encourage participants to share their experiences of working with colleagues in the news team to create engaging, relevant long form content which can be used to promote the University and meet user needs.


  • Title: University News Made Digital
  • Type: Workshop session (lasting for 90 minutes)
  • Hashtag: #A5
  • Speaker: Carley Hollis
  • Date and time: 16.00-17.30 on Tuesday 23 June 2016