This is the third of a three-part series on Web 2.0 at Work.
I saved this one for last because I was just in a meeting on Friday of last week to discuss this exact topic. The issue of internal communication has been a recognized problem where I work, not only among the employees of the university, but also between the employees and the students.
A few months back an Executive Assistant on campus started sending out general administrative news emails, calling them E-nnouncements. She would send these out every Monday morning, and those emails were incredibly long, featuring at a minimum of ten 1-3 paragraph news type entries. Early on I was thinking that this would fit perfectly into a blog format. Apparently Bren did to, as he and IT helped the EA get a blog setup just for this purpose.
Because the E-nnouncements tended to be focused around traditional undergraduate population of the university, and Bren works with a different population, he started thinking about mirroring the blog setup for his population group. This is what led us to the meeting last Friday. The obvious fear was of blog-bloat. The decision we came to was to have one central blog for all administrative news, and by using some plugins to WordPress we will be able to section out the content to focus it for each of the major populations on all of our campuses.
The way that RSS comes into the picture is what we are doing to leverage some of the great capabilities that are out there. First, we are pushing a full feed and category specific feeds out through Feedburner. One of the biggest benefits of having Feedburner behind the feed is that people can choose to subscribe via their feed reader or they can subscribe via a daily digest email. So, for all those people that don’t know what this are-es-es thing is, they can add on to their already full email inbox.
Beyond Feedburner, though, now that this news is in a friendly RSS format there are an unlimited number of places this content could be placed. We have a portal where students and staff can complete administrative tasks (register for classes, complete university forms, etc.). We will push the feeds to the portal for students to see there. If your company has an intranet, this is the same type of thing.
Blogging is not just about sharing your personal ramblings and opinions anymore. The only difference between what we know as blogging and an E-nnouncements type blog is the message you are trying to convey. That, and maybe the ability to leave comments. A company news blog is a great way to get news out to the employees. Try to get some department heads, or even some executives, to buy in and write a monthly “From the Desk of…” type bit.
A note on WordPress and category feeds. If you are using the “Date and name based” permalink option, you can get a specific category feed with the url of http://your-blog/category-slug/feed/. That simple. And as we are doing, you can feed that to Feedburner to get all the tricks they offer, too.