‘Snow Fall’ and Storytelling in Higher Ed

In the six days following its launch, “Snow Fall” received more than 3.5 million pageviews and 2.9 million visitors—nearly a third of whom were new visitors to nytimes.com, according to a New York Times memo.

What made “Snow Fall” both so successful and so widely lauded? The feature marked a big step forward in the evolution of online storytelling. From the earliest stages of developing “Snow Fall,” writers, researchers, designers, developers and multimedia experts all worked together to craft a compelling narrative wreathed in a natural user experience.

So, another day, another online journalism innovation. What does it mean for us and our higher ed newsrooms? Our resources pale in comparison to the Times’—after all, “Snow Fall” took six months and nearly a dozen staffers to bring to life. What does this latest notch in the Gray Lady’s belt mean for higher ed?

‘Snow Fall’ and Storytelling in Higher Ed

Why thinking like a journalist can bring out the best content

A good story needs to be published as quickly as possible or risks losing its appeal.

The same rule applies for content marketing: it needs to be relevant and current, or the reader will move on to something else.

One of the easiest ways to come up with ideas is to take a look at current events and holidays. Christmas or Valentine’s Day coming up? Using these events and linking them with your business can be a unique way to connect with your customers.

The closer the better

Proximity is another crucial factor: if ten people are killed in a bus accident in the centre of your hometown, your local newspaper will undoubtedly consider it front page news. But if 30 people are killed in a bus accident in Tokmok in Kyrgyzstan, it will probably pass unnoticed. It’s essential to know who your audience is and what matters to them.

Why thinking like a journalist can bring out the best content

Why Every Content Marketer Should Have Newsroom Experience

Great stories don’t just happen. All great stories begin with a great idea.

Re. Typical Day in the Newsroom

An editor hands the reporter a simple assignment. The journalist’s job is to transform the topic into a juicy story with useful information and striking quotes. So, before any words are written, the journalist must brainstorm.

A journalist is trained to see a single idea from every possible angle.

Why Every Content Marketer Should Have Newsroom Experience

This is another re-read for me. The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better by Seth Godin is a short book with, by his own admission, some simplistic answers. Every page should have a banana. Ok? What’s a banana? It’s the thing the monkey can find that’s obvious and easy.

But the reality is, unless you have a product or service that’s targeted to only one audience, you really cannot do this. It would be great if we could build a university presence with only the prospective student in mind. The bananas would be easy. However, our web site has to achieve goals for several constituencies. We’re not Amazon selling books. Or Dyson selling vacuums.

I love Seth Godin, and I think he just needs to stay true to his own banana on this one. Stay with being remarkable in marketing and leave usability to the experts. Anyone can point out problems and break-downs in the system. You don’t have to be an expert to do this. The expert finds real solutions to these problems. I’m afraid Godin has only achieved the former.