Let us tell your story: Edinburgh Impact

Reading time: 4 minutes

Over the past year, teams in Communications and Marketing have been working on a new project to celebrate and share stories from across the University. In this issue, Barbara Morgan, Head of Content in Communications and Marketing, introduces a new website, designed to highlight our amazing community and everything they have been achieving.

The many changes we’ve all encountered to our ways of working this past year, have undoubtedly been challenging and downright difficult. For teams within Communications and Marketing (CAM), alongside those challenges, we’ve found slivers of silver lining, where some things have somehow become a little easier to do.

CAM is made up of defined teams, each with a specific focus and all with deadlines to meet, services to provide and targets to achieve. In the good old days, when we could get together for away days and all-staff meetings, we would talk about how much we wanted to work together more and create cross-team groups to collaborate on projects, but getting around to doing that never came easily. Until lockdown.

Under the new restrictions, we somehow found it easier to reach out to each other – less restricted perhaps by the physical walls around each other’s offices, or no longer avoiding walking into a room full of people with their heads down, disturbing lots of colleagues when we only wanted to talk to one. Whether it began with just casually checking in on each other or more formal meetings online, something changed quite dramatically in the way we were communicating with each other. We were learning more about each other’s roles and building an appreciation of what each other had to do in these challenging new circumstances, and there was a tangible, obvious offering of help being given back and forth.

Capitalising on this more open approach, we created an Editorial Board in 2020, made up of members from all the various teams in CAM. We found we really enjoyed representing our teams at the Board, sharing ideas with colleagues we didn’t usually work with, and listening to each other.

Over the past six months one of the priorities that developed for the Editorial Board was to establish a new outlet for telling the great stories of the University to the outside world.

The Board, made up of the content team (editors and videographers), the press team, community relations, internal communications, corporate communications, market insight, marketing and digital marketing, initially worked together on an emergency Covid-19 response microsite during the first months of the pandemic. From there, we agreed that we could build on this and work began to create what is now: Edinburgh Impact.

Edinburgh Impact is a place to celebrate the University’s successes and also tell the background stories of the students, alumni, researchers, teachers, supporters, collaborators and neighbours who make up our great institution. We’ve created the space to share Edinburgh’s research excellence; the innovation, personal commitment and determination that it takes to achieve research with impact. We share teaching and learning successes in our Inspiring Minds area. There’s a spot to let the world know about our institutional wins in Our Shared World. Our academics can publish in their own voice in our Opinion section. Our People is dedicated to showing the human side of a university of this scale. We invite our audiences to meet the individuals doing something awe-inspiring, quirky, helpful, fabulous, or all of the above, in their day-to-day life at Edinburgh, or because of their time at the University. We’re creating interviews, profiles and films to reach our global audience.

Working to write and create content, interview staff, students, community partners, arrange photography and video to accompany and enrich the viewer’s experience has all been going on at some pace – and will continue in this vein. But there has been much more to it than simply agreeing editorial proposals and plans. We’ve also been working across teams to think carefully about how our audiences want to receive these stories and narratives and also – critically – what they’ll do with our content once they’ve received it.

So, while Edinburgh Impact is the launch of a new website, it’s also not really that at all, but much more. It’s a way of getting the amazing stories about our internal people, that sit on a website, right under external people’s noses in the way they want to receive them, to prompt a further positive action.

We’re promoting individual stories on Instagram, or Facebook, or Twitter or LinkedIn, to prospective students, or parents, or funding bodies, or politicians, with either a short snappy headline, or a video trailer, or a stunning image with a caption. We’re shining a specific spotlight or highlighting something intriguing, to bring viewers and readers through their own chosen social media channel, right into the feature they’re interested in, with lots of suggestions for similar stories to explore once they arrive, all to encourage them to engage with us.

We’re creating shareable, relatable content that people will warm to, might laugh at, be inspired by, or want to tell someone else about – which they can do immediately on their chosen social platform.

And we’re measuring. We’re checking in and reporting back. So the whole publishing process is in fact a cycle. If something doesn’t work we’ll know about it and can react. Likewise, if something works well with an audience, we’ll aim to give them more of the same.

By using the talents of multiple teams in CAM, we feel we’ve moved a bit of a mountain in working collaboratively, ironically while we’re all physically dispersed across not just the city but many regions of Scotland. What started as looking out for each other during the early days of the pandemic has brought about a project many of us have wanted to work on for a few years. Waiting until we’re enduring pretty difficult circumstances just seems to be the way CAM rolls!

The work of course is only beginning. We’re building the content that will bring people to us, whether they’re fellow researchers or teachers, prospective students, volunteers or funding bodies. But we’re on our way now to making these amazing things that Edinburgh people do, more obvious to the world. If you’re interested in finding out more please do visit the new site.

And if you would like us to tell your story, in the right way to the right audience, you can submit a proposal to the Editorial Board at any time. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can email Barbara at: barbara.morgan@ed.ac.uk