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So You Want to be a Data Journalist? Current Opportunities

Every so often I do a round up of job openings in different areas. This is particular true around year end, as I look at my dwindling salary (no more increments, ever, and no hope of promotion, …) and my overall lack of direction, and try to come up with sort sort of resolution to play with during the first few weeks of the year.

The data journalism phrase has being around for some time now (was it really three and half years ago since Data Driven Journalism Round Table at the European Journalism Centre? (FFS, what have I been doing for the last three years?!:-( and it seems to be maturing a little. We’ve had the period of shiny, shiny web apps requiring multiskilled development teams and designers working with the hacks to produce often confusing and wtf am I supposed to be doing now?! interactives and things seem to be becoming a little more embedded… Perhaps…

My reading (as an outsider) is that there is now more of a move towards developing some sort of data skillbase that allows journalists to do “investigative” sorts of things with data, often using very small data sets or concise summary datasets. To complement this, there seems to be some sort of hope that visually appealing charts can be used to hook eyeballs into a story (rather than pushing eyeballs away) – Trinity Mirror’s Ampp3d (as led by Martin Belam) is a good example of this, as is the increasing(?) use of the DataWrapper library.

From working with the School of Data, as well as a couple of bits of data journalism not-really-training with some of the big news groups, I’ve come to realise there is probably some really basic, foundational work to be done in the way people think (or don’t think) about data. For example, I don’t believe that people in general read charts. I think they may glance at them, but they don’t try to read them. They have no idea what story they tell. Given a line chart that plots some figure over time. How many people ride the line to get a feel for how it really changed?

Hans Rosling famously brings data alive with his narrative commentary around animated development data charts, including bar charts…

But if you watch the video with the sound off, or just look at the final chart, do you have the feeling of being told the same story? Can you even retell yourself the story by looking at the chart. And how about if you look at another bar chart? Can you use any of Hans Rosling’s narrative or rhetorical tricks to help you read through those?

(The rhetoric of data (and the malevolent arts of persuasion) is something I want to ponder in more depth next year, along with the notion of data aesthetics and the theory of forms given a data twist.)

Another great example of narrated data storytelling comes from Kurt Vonnegut as he describes the shapes of stories:

Is that how you read a line chart when you see one?

One thing about the data narration technique is that it is based around the construction of a data trace. There is a sense of anticipation about where the line will go next, and uncertainty as to what sort of event will cause the line to move one way or another. Looking back at a completed data chart, what points do we pick from it that we want to use as events in our narration or reading of it? (The lines just connect the points – they are processional in the way they move us from one point of interest to the next, although the gradient of the line may provide us with ideas for embellishing or decorating the story a little.)

It’s important to make art because the people that get the most out of art are the ones that make it. It’s not … You know there’s this idea that you go to a wonderful art gallery and it’s good for you and it makes you a better person and it informs your soul, but actually the person who’s getting the most out of any artistic activity is the person who makes it because they’re sort of expressing themselves and enjoying it, and they’re in the zone and you know it’s a nice thing to do. [Grayson Perry, Reith Lectures 2013, Lecture 2, Q&A [transcript, PDF], audio]

In the same way, the person who gets the most out of a chart is the person who constructed it. They know what they left in and what they left out. They know why the axes are selected as they are, why elements are coloured or sized as they are. They know the question that led up to the chart and the answers it provides to those questions. They know where to look. Like an art critic who reads their way round a painting, they know how to read one or many different stories from the chart.

The interactives that appeared during the data journalism wave from a couple of years ago sought to provide a playground for people to play with data and tells their own stories with it. But they didn’t. In part because they didn’t know how to play with data, didn’t know how to use it in a constructive way as part of a narrative, (even a made up, playful narrative). And in part this comes back to not knowing how to read – that is, recover stories from – a chart.

It is often said that a picture saves a thousand words, but if the picture tells a thousand word story, how many of us try to read that thousand word story from each picture or chart? Maybe we need to use a thousand words as well as the chart? (How many words does Hans Rosling use? How many, Kurt Vonnegut?)

When producing a chart that essentially represents a summary of a conversation with have had with a dataset, it’s important to remember that for someone looking at the final chart it might not make as much sense in absence of the narrative that was used to construct it. Edward de Bono’s constructed illustrations helps read a the final image through recalling his narrative. But if we just look at a “completed” sketch from one of his talks, it will probably be meaningless.

One of the ideas that works for me when I reflect on my own playing with data is that it is a conversation. Meaning is constructed through the conversation I have with a dataset, and the things it reveals when I pose particular questions to it. In many cases, these questions are based on filtering a dataset, although the result may be displayed in many ways. The answers I get to a question inform the next question I want to ask. Questions take the form of constructing this chart as opposed to that chart, though I am free to ask the same question in many slightly different ways if the answers don’t appear to be revealing of anything.

It is in this direction – of seeing data as a source that can be interviewed and coaxed into telling stories – that I sense elements of the data journalism thang are developing. This leads naturally into seeing data journalism skills as core investigative style skills that all journalists would benefit from. (Seeing things as data allows you to ask particular sorts of question in very particular ways. Being able to cast things into a data form – as for example in Creating Data from Text – Regular Expressions in OpenRefine) – so that they become amenable to data-style queries, is the next idea I think we need to get across…

So what are the jobs that are out at the moment? Here’s a quick round-up of some that I’ve spotted…

  • Data editor (Guardian): “develop and implement a clear strategy for the Data team and the use of data, numbers and statistics to generate news stories, analysis pieces, blogs and fact checks for The Guardian and The Observer.
    You will take responsibility for commissioning and editing content for the Guardian and Observer data blogs as well as managing the research needs of the graphics department and home and foreign news desks. With day-to-day managerial responsibility for a team of three reporters / researchers working on the data blog, you will also be responsible for data analysis and visualisation: using a variety of specialist software and online tools, including Tableau, ARCGis, Google Fusion, Microsoft Access and Excel”

Perpetuating the “recent trad take” on data journalism, viewed as gonzo journalist hacker:

  • Data Journalist [Telegraph Media Group]: “[S]ource, sift and surface data to find and generate stories, assist with storytelling and to support interactive team in delivering data projects.
    “The Data Journalist will sit within the Interactive Data team, and will work with a team of designers, web developers and journalists on data-led stories and in developing innovative interactive infographics, visualisations and news applications. They will need to think and work fast to tackle on-going news stories and tight deadlines.
    “Applicants should have a portfolio of relevant work and bylines on data-led stories and/or interactive graphics. The role will include mentoring and training opportunities, but candidates should feel confident working with HTML/CSS, Javascript, PHP and MySQL, even if they are not writing code themselves. Experience of writing scrapers and using statistical software (e.g. R) is desired, but not essential.
  • One of the most exciting opportunities that I can see around data related published is in new workflows and minimising the gap between investigative tools and published outputs. This seems to me a bit risky in that it seems so conservative when it comes to getting data outputs actually published?
    Designer [Trinity Mirror]: “Trinity Mirror’s pioneering data unit is looking for a first-class designer to work across online and print titles. … You will be a whizz with design software – such as Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign – and understand the principles of designing infographics, charts and interactives for the web. You will also be able to design simple graphical templates for re-purposing around the group.
    “You should have a keen interest in current affairs and sport, and be familiar with – and committed to – the role data journalism can play in a modern newsroom.”
  • [Trinity Mirror]: Can you take an API feed and turn it into a compelling gadget which will get the whole country talking?
    “Trinity Mirror’s pioneering data unit is looking for a coder/developer to help it take the next step in helping shape the future of journalism. …
    “You will be able to create tools which automatically grab the latest data and use them to create interactive, dynamically-updated charts, maps and gadgets across a huge range of subjects – everything from crime to football. …
    “The successful candidate will have a thorough knowledge of scraping techniques, ability to manage a database using SQL, and demonstrable ability in at least one programming language.”

But there is hope about the embedding of data skills as part of everyday journalistic practice:

  • Culture report (Guardian): “We are looking for a Culture Reporter to generate stories and cover breaking news relating to Popular Culture, Film and Music … Applicants should also have expertise with digital tools including blogging, social media, data journalism and mobile publishing. “
  • Investigations Correspondent [BBC Newsnight]: “Reporting to the Editor, the Investigations Correspondent will contribute to Newsnight by producing long term investigations as well as sometimes contributing to big ongoing stories. Some investigations will take months, but there will also be times when we’ll need to dig up new lines on moving the stories in days.
    “We want a first rate reporter with a proven track record of breaking big stories who can comfortably work across all subject areas from politics to sport. You will be an established investigative journalist with a wide range of contacts and sources as well as having experience with a range of different investigative approaches including data journalism, Freedom Of Information (FOI) and undercover reporting.”
  • News Reporter, GP [Haymarket Medical Media]: “GP is part of Haymarket Medical Media, which also produces MIMS, Medeconomics, Inside Commissioning, and mycme.com, and delivers a wide range of medical education projects. …
    “Ideally you will also have some experience of data journalism, understand how social media can be used to enhance news coverage and have some knowledge of multimedia journalism, including video and blogs.”
  • Reporter, ENDS Report [Haymarket]: “We are looking for someone who has excellent reporting and writing skills, is enthusiastic and able to digest and summarise in depth documents and analysis. You will also need to be comfortable with dealing with numbers and statistics and prepared to sift through data to find the story that no one else spots.
    “Ideally you will have some experience of data journalism, understand how social media can be used to enhance news coverage.”

Are there any other current ones I’m missing?

I think the biggest shift we need is to get folk treating data as a source that responds to a particular style of questioning. Learning how to make the source comfortable and get it into a state where you can start to ask it questions is one key skill. Knowing how to frame questions so that discover the answers you need for a story are another. Choosing which bits of the conversation you use in a report (if any – maybe the conversation is akin to a background chat?) yet another.

Treating data as a source also helps us think about how we need to take care with it – how not to ask leading questions, how not to get it to say things it doesn’t mean. (On the other hand, some folk will undoubtedly force the data to say things it never intended to say…

“If you torture the data enough, nature will always confess” [Ronald Coase]

[Disclaimer: I started looking at some medical data for Haymarket.]

Written by Tony Hirst

December 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm

So what is a data journalist exactly? A view from the job ads…

A quick snapshot of how the data journalism scene is evolving at the moment based on job ads over the last few months…

Via mediauk, I’m not sure when this post for a Junior Data Journalist, Trinity Mirror Regionals (Manchester) was advertised (maybe it was for its new digital journalism unit?)? Here’s what they were looking for:

Trinity Mirror is seeking to recruit a junior data journalist to join its new data journalism unit.

Based in Manchester, the successful applicant will join a small team committed to using data to produce compelling and original content for its website and print products.

You will be expected to combine a high degree of technical skill – in terms of finding, interrogating and visualising data – with more traditional journalistic skills, like recognising stories and producing content that is genuinely useful to consumers.

Reporting to the head of data journalism, the successful candidate will be expected to help create and develop data-based packages, solve problems, find and ‘scrape’ key sources of data, and assist with the production of regular data bulletins flagging up news opportunities to editors and heads of content across the group.

You need to have bags of ideas, be as comfortable with sport as you are with news, know the tools to source and turn data into essential information for our readers and have a strong eye for detail.
This is a unique opportunity for a creative, motivated and highly-skilled individual to join an ambitious project from its start.

You will be expected to combine a high degree of technical skill – in terms of finding, interrogating and visualising data – with more traditional journalistic skills, like recognising stories and producing content that is genuinely useful to consumers.

Reporting to the head of data journalism, the successful candidate will be expected to help create and develop data-based packages, solve problems, find and ‘scrape’ key sources of data, and assist with the production of regular data bulletins flagging up news opportunities to editors and heads of content across the group.

You need to have bags of ideas, be as comfortable with sport as you are with news, know the tools to source and turn data into essential information for our readers and have a strong eye for detail.

News International were also recruiting a data journalist earlier this year, but I can’t find a copy of the actual ad.

From March, £23k-26k pa was on offer for a “Data Journalist” role that involved:

Identification of industry trends using quantitative-based research methods
Breaking news stories using digital research databases as a starting point
Researching & Analysing commercially valuable data for features, reports and events

Maintaining the Insolvency Today Market Intelligence Database (MID)
Mastering search functions and navigation of public databases such as London Gazette, Companies House, HM Court Listings, FSA Register, etc.
Using data trends as a basis for news stories and then using qualitative methods to structure stories and features.
Researching and producing content for the Insolvency cluster of products. (eg. Insolvency Today, Insolvency News, Insolvency BlackBook, Insolvency & Rescue Awards, etc.)
Identifying new data sources and trends, relevant to the Insolvency cluster.
Taking news stories published from rival sources and creating ‘follow up’ and analysis pieces using fresh data.
Occasional reporting from the High Court.
Liaising with the sales, events and marketing teams to share relevant ideas.
Sharing critical information with, and supporting sister editorial teams in the Credit and Payroll clusters.
Attending industry events to build contacts, network and represent the company.

On the other hand, a current rather clueless looking ad is offering £40k-60k for a “Data Journalist/Creative Data Engineer”:

Data Journalist/Creative Data Engineer is required by a leading digital media company based in Central London. This role is going to be working alongside a team of data modellers/statistical engineers and “bringing data to life”; your role will specifically be looking over data and converting it from “technical jargon” to creative, well written articles and white papers. This role is going to be pivotal for my client and has great scope for career progression.

To be considered for this role, you will ideally be a Data Journalist at the moment in the digital media space. You will have a genuine interest in the digital media industry and will have more than likely produced a white paper in the past or articles for publications such as AdAge previously. You will have a creative mind and will feel confident taking information from data and creating creative and persuasive written articles. Whilst this is not a technical role by anymeans it would definitely be of benefit if you had some basic technical knowledge with data mining or statistical modelling tools.

Here’s what the Associated Press were looking for from “Newsperson/Interactive Data Journalist”:

The ideal candidate will have experience with database management, data analysis and Web application development. (We use Ruby for most of our server-side coding, but we’re more interested in how you’ve solved problems with code than in the syntax you used to solve them.) Experience with the full lifecycle of a data project is vital, as the data journalist will be involved at every stage: discovering data resources, helping craft public records requests, managing data import and validation, designing queries and working with reporters and interactive designers to produce investigative stories and interactive graphics that engage readers while maintaining AP’s standards of accuracy and integrity.

Experience doing client-side development is a great advantage, as is knowledge of data visualization and UI design. If you have an interest in DevOps, mapping solutions or advanced statistical and machine learning techniques, we will want to hear about that, too. And if you have shared your knowledge through technical training or mentorship, those skills will be an important asset.

Most importantly, we’re looking for someone who wants to be part of a team, who can collaborate and communicate with people of varying technical levels. And the one absolute requirement is intellectual curiosity: if you like to pick up new technologies for fun and aren’t afraid to throw yourself into research to become the instant in-house expert on a topic, then you’re our kind of candidate.

And a post that’s still open at the time of writing – “Interactive Data Journalist ” with the FT:

The Financial Times is seeking an experienced data journalist to join its Interactive News team, a growing group of journalists, designers and developers who work at the heart of the FT newsroom to develop innovative forms of online storytelling. This position is based at our office in London.

You will have significant experience in obtaining, processing and presenting data in the context of news and features reporting. You have encyclopedic knowledge of the current best practices in data journalism, news apps, and interactive data visualisation.

Wrangling data is an everyday part of this job, so you are a bit of a ninja in Excel, SQL, Open Refine or a statistics package like Stata or R. You are conversant in HTML and CSS. In addition, you will be able to give examples of other tools, languages or technologies you have applied to editing multimedia, organising data, or presenting maps and statistics online.
More important than your current skillset, however, is a proven ability to solve problems independently and to constantly update your skills in a fast-evolving field.

While you will primarily coordinate the production of interactive data visualisations, you will be an all-round online journalist willing and able to fulfil other roles, including podcast production, writing and editing blog posts, and posting to social media.

We believe in building people’s careers by rotating them into different jobs every few years so you will also be someone who specifically wants to work for the FT and is interested in (or prepared to become interested in) the things that interest us.

So does that make it any clearer what a data journalist is or does?!

PS you might also find this relevant: Tow Center for Digital Journalism report on Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present

Written by Tony Hirst

May 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Jobs

Tagged with

Recently (And Not So Recently) Advertised Data Jobs…

I’m doing a couple of talks to undergrad and postgrad students next work – on data journalism at the University of Lincoln, and on open data at the University of Southampton – so I thought I’d do a quick round up of recently advertised data related jobs that I could reuse for an employability slide…

So, here are some of the things I’ve noticed recently:

  • The Technology Strategy board, funders of many a data related activity (including the data vouchers for SMEs) are advertising for a Lead Technologist – Data Economy (£45,000 to £55,000):

    The UK is increasingly reliant on its service economy, and on the ability to manage its physical economy effectively, and it exports these capabilities around the world. Both aspects of this are heavily dependent on the availability of appropriate information at the right place and time, which in turn depends on our ability to access and manipulate diverse sources of data within a commercial environment.

    The internet and mobile communications and the ready availability of computing power can allow the creation of a new, data-rich economy, but there are technical, human and business challenges still to be overcome. With its rich data resources, inventive capacity and supportive policy landscape, the UK is well placed to be the centre of this innovation.

    Working within the Digital team, to develop and implement strategies for TSB’s interventions in and around the relevant sectors.

    This role requires the knowledge and expertise to develop priorities for how the UK should address this opportunity, as well as the interpersonal skills to introduce the relevant communities of practice to appropriate technological solutions. It also requires a knowledge of how innovation works within businesses in this space, to allow the design and targeting of TSB’s activities to effectively facilitate change.

    Accessible tools include, but are not restricted to, networking and community building, grant-funding of projects at a wide range of scales, directing support services to businesses, work through centres such as the Open Data Institute and Connected Digital Economy Catapult, targeted procurement through projects such as LinkedGov, and inputs to policy. The role requires drawing upon this toolkit to design a coordinated programme of interventions that has impact in its own right and which also coordinates with other activities across TSB and the wider innovation landscape.

  • Via the ECJ, a relayed message from the NICAR-L mailing list about a couple of jobs going with The Times and Sunday Times:

    A couple of jobs that might be of interest to NICAR members here at the
    Times of London…

    The first is an investigative data journalist role, joining the new data journalism unit which will work across both The Times and The Sunday Times.

    The other is a editorial developer role: this will sit within the News Development Team and will focus on anything from working out how we tell stories in richer more immersive ways, to creating new ways of presenting Times and Sunday Times journalism to new audiences.

    Please get in touch if you are interested!

    Lucia
    Head of news development, The Times and Sunday Times
    @lucia_adams

Not a job ad as such, but an interesting recent innovation from the BirminghamMail:

We’ve launched a new initiative looking at the numbers behind our city and the stories in it.
‘Behind The Numbers’ is all about the explosion in ‘data’: information about our hospitals and schools, crime and the way it is policed, business and sport, arts and culture.
We’d like you to tell us what data you’d like us to publish and dig into. Email suggestions to ben.hurst@trinitymirror.com. Follow @bhamdatablog on Twitter for updates or to share ideas.

This was also new to me: FT Data, a stats/datablog from the FT? FullFact is another recent addition to my feed list, with a couple of interesting stories each day and plenty of process questions and methodological tricks that can be, erm, appropriated ;-) Via @JackieCarter, the Social Statistics blog looked interesting, but the partial RSS feed is a real turn off for me so I’ll probably drop it from my reader pretty quickly unless it turns up some *really* interesting posts.

Here are some examples of previously advertised jobs…

  • A job that was being advertised at the end of last year (now closed) by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) (current vacancies) was for the impressive sounding Head of Rich Content Development:

    The postholder is responsible for inspiring and leading development of innovative rich content outputs for the ONS website and other channels, which anticipate and meet user needs and expectations, including those of the Citizen User. The role holder has an important part to play in helping ONS to realise its vision “for official statistics to achieve greater impact on key decisions affecting the UK and to encourage broader use across the country”.

    Key Responsibilities:

    1. Inspires, builds, leads and develops a multi-disciplinary team of designers, developers, data analysts and communications experts to produce innovative new outputs for the ONS website and other channels.
    2. Keeps abreast of emerging trends and identifies new opportunities for the use of rich web content with ONS outputs.
    3. Identifies new opportunities, proposes new directions and developments and gains buy in and commitment to these from Senior Executives and colleagues in other ONS business areas.
    4. Works closely with business areas to identify, assess and commission new rich-content projects.
    5. Provides, vision, guidance and editorial approval for new projects based on a continual understanding of user needs and expectations.
    6. Develops and manages an ongoing portfolio of innovative content, maximising impact and value for money.
    7. Builds effective partnerships with media to increase outreach and engagement with ONS content.
    8. Establishes best practice in creation of rich content for the web and other channels, and works to improve practice and capability throughout ONS.

  • From December 2010, a short term contract at the BBC for a data journalist:

    The team is looking for a creative, tech-savvy data journalist (computer-assisted reporter) to join its website specials team to work with our online journalists, graphic designer and development teams.

    Role Purpose and Aims

    You will be required to humanize statistics; to make sense of potentially complicated data and present it in a user friendly format.

    You will be asked to focus on a range of data-rich subjects relating to long-term projects or high impact daily new stories, in line with Global News editorial priorities. These could include the following: reports on development, global poverty, Afghanistan casualties, internet connectivity around the world, or global recession figures.

    Key Knowledge and Experience

    You will be a self-starter, brimming with story ideas who is comfortable with statistics and has the expertise to delve beneath the headline figures and explain the fuller picture.
    You will have significant journalistic experience gained ideally from working in an international news environment.
    The successful candidate should have experience (or at least awareness) of visualising data and visualisation tools.
    You should be excited about developing the way that data is interpreted and presented on the web, from heavy number crunching, to dynamic mapping and interactive graphics. You must have demonstrated knowledge of statistics, statistical analysis, with a good understanding of the range and breadth of data sources in the UK and internationally, broad experience with data sources, data mining and have good visual and statistical skills.
    You must have a Computer-assisted reporting background or similar, including a good knowledge of the relevant software (including Excel and mapping software).
    Experience of producing and developing data driven web content a senior level within time and budget constraints.

    Central to the role is an ability to analyse complicated information and present it to our readers in a way that is visually engaging and easy to understand, using a range of web-based technologies, for which you should have familiarity with database interfaces and web presentation layers, as well as database concepting, content entry and management.
    You will be expected to have your own original ideas on how to best apply data driven journalism, either to complement stories when appropriate or to identify potential original stories while interpreting data, researching and investigating them, crunching the data yourself and working with designers and developers on creating content that will engage our audience, and provide them with useful, personalised information.

    FWIW, it’s probably worth remembering that the use of data is not necessarily a new thing.. for example, this post – The myth of the missing Data Scientist – does a good job debunking some of the myths around “data science”.

Written by Tony Hirst

February 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Jobs

Tagged with ,

Academic Business Communications?

For several years, I’ve idly wondered whether the job ads of a particular company or institution provide some sort of evidence about the health of the organisation, its current strategy (in terms of long term appointments) and its tactics (short term appointments). Short term contract appointments might also reveal insights about current (or soon to be announced) projects, or even act as indicators that a project is in trouble (and hence requires more bodies throwing at it). Whatever…

Looking at appointments across a sector might also give us some sort of insight about the current concerns of the sector. Identifying bellweather or leader institutions that predict sector wide concerns through regularly being first to advertise posts or roles that others may then start to appoint may provide some sort of insight as to the direction a sector may be heading. Again, whatever.

Whilst I haven’t been tracking HE jobs in general, I do subscribe to the OU jobs feed (for a list of other UK HEIs with jobs related RSS/Atom syndication feeds, see this UK HEI autodiscoverable RSS feed directory).

My gut feeling from skimming this feed is that the OU has been appointing IT related jobs like crazy over the last year or so (read in to that what you may; high churn maybe? Or major IT restructuring?) and relatively few academic positions (from which we might conclude as observers either that the OU has a young/middle aged academic workforce, or that managing the size of the academic body through natural wastage is the order of the day). I think Google Reader will have been archiving the feed, so I guess I could try to run some sort of analysis over it. But that’s as maybe…

Anyway – today I spotted this ad: Strategic Communications Programme, Academic Reputation Manager, Communications (temporary contract for 24 months, £37,012-£44,116), reporting to the Head of Communications. Here’s the spec:

The post is formally based within The Open University Communications Unit, but the post holder will spend a significant amount of time working with academic staff and associate lecturers across the University’s seven faculties and two institutes, acting as a conduit for publicity, dissemination and impact across in the media and via the Universities’ advocates, students, alumni, staff and influential friends, making use of social media.

The post holder will report to the Head of Communications (Managing Editor) (and through him/her to the Director of Communications) and work closely with the Director of Marketing. There will be close working relationships with Communications colleagues in the Digital Engagement, Government Relations and External Affairs, Stakeholder and Media Relations teams. Specifically you will work closely with the Senior Manage Research Communications, to co-ordinate activity and avoid duplication. There are no line-management responsibilities associated with this post.

MAIN PURPOSE

• To lead and coordinate publicity activities across the University, ensuring an optimal and consistent approach is taken to maximise the dissemination and impact of our academic excellence.
• To raise external awareness of the profile and calibre of our academics and teaching staff with key target audiences.
• To raise internal awareness of the excellence and accomplishments of our academics and teaching staff across the OU’s faculties and institutes.
• To support the Director of Communications as an OU Ambassador in engaging on, and communicating, the OU Story.

MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES

• Develop and implement a new Academic Excellence Communications Strategy for the University based on a focused approach aimed at maximum impact on key opinion formers and decision-makers.
• Develop and maintain knowledge of key areas of OU academic excellence and publicise and disseminate news and information accordingly to target audiences, liaising with the media relations team as appropriate for high impact stories.
• Network across faculties, institutes and relevant service units to maximise news gathering, dissemination and impact.
• Commission and edit news stories for the bi-monthly staff enews and liaise with the PVC (Academic) to ensure that individual achievement is acknowledged with personal thanks and the best examples promoted to the Vice Chancellor for celebrating in his video addresses.
• Working with Digital Engagement, contribute to a pan-university approach to faculty and unit based research websites and social media activity.
• Manage publication of brochures and publicity materials for both web and print.
• Day–to-day quality control of all academic excellence materials, including academic excellence-related media releases and academic excellence elements of external and internal OU publications and websites.
• Contribute to the development of case studies for the OU’s Strategic Communications Programme focussed on acquiring new students and employer sponsors, including enhancing the impact of selected case studies in the run-up to submission.
• Support the development and implementation of stakeholder engagement/communications for specific high impact projects and initiatives.
• Create presentations on academic excellence for the PVC (Academic) and other senior staff and provide briefings and guidance for presentation opportunities.
• Manage high profile events aimed to raise the profile of key academics and the OU’s academic reputation as a whole, where there are significant communication opportunities (national workshops, international conferences, showcase events).
• Review academic staff web profiles and advise on raising the quality of these profiles for impact on external audiences such as potential students and the media.
• Work with Senior Manager Research Communications to develop the OU’s database of expertise as an effective means of maximising OU comment in the media (both proactively and in response to media enquiries).
• Contribute to development of the OU’s iTunes U and YouTube research portfolio.
• Liaise as appropriate with Digital Engagement, Open Broadcasting Unit and Marketing (e.g. for approval of advertisements).
• Coordinate academic excellence competition entries (e.g. for Times Higher awards)

OTHER GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES:

• Understands and takes account of organisational aims and priorities to plan and set clear goals and deliver immediate and long term goals.

• Takes personal responsibility for effectively managing projects to achieve priorities, ensuring efficient use of resources to meet agreed delivery timescales and quality standards.

• Undertake such other duties as may be required from time-to-time by the Director of Communications, to build the reputation of the University.

ORGANISATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:

• The post holder will be based in the Communications Unit but will also spend significant time working with colleagues across the OU faculties and institutes.

• The post holder will report to the Head of Communications (Managing Editor) (and through him/her to the Director of Communications) but will liaise closely with the Senior Manager, Research Communications, within the Communications Stakeholder Relations team..

• The post holder will work with other individuals, teams and units across the University where required.

So – profile building and celebration of academic achievements seem to be the order of the day, as well as getting OU comment into mainstream media? Thinking about OU content I share, most of it is generally on the basis of what I think is interesting, novel, “important”, quirky, or possibly of interest in one of the communities I believe I communicate into. But I don’t limit myself to sharing info about just OU activities…(The original naming of OUseful.info was inspired by a desire to share info that might be useful in an OU context, facing both outwards (linking to OU projects that were of interest), as well as inwards (bringing ideas from the outside that might contribute internally to the development of the OU mission).)

The job description doesn’t mention the REF, but work also appears to be being commissioned to support that bundle of laughs at a data management level – REF Publications Linked Data:

Key tasks will include:
– The review with others of the existing Research Publication Facility (RPF);
– Design and development of agreed enhancements and additions to the existing system;
– Delivery of an agreed programme of enhancement/development;
– Maintenance and user-support of the live RPF system;
– Direct liaison with users during the REF preparation period, to handle and progress queries and issues etc. as they arise;
– The postholder will also be expected to devise and introduce additional features to the RPF should they be identified as REF Preparations proceed – e.g. improved MI reporting for the REF Coordination Team and the Institutional Research Review Team (IRRT);
– Undertake such other duties as may be required from time-to-time by appointed line/project managers in support of REF preparations and related systems.

The use of linked data to support Research and Scholarship is an exciting field of research development in its own right, and part of the postholder’s role will be to work in association, as directed, with select colleagues in KMi, the PVC’s Office and elsewhere to identify other relevant opportunities for using linked data in support of the Research and Scholarship agenda, where this is considered appropriate and workload allows. The postholder’s primary responsibility however, will be direct support of the OU’s REF submission.

The job ad also mentions that the role “will include in particular the modelling and exposure as linked data of newly identified data not already covered by the current datasets, the constant maintenance and update of existing data. The Project Officer will in particular integrate a team working in collaboration with the Digital Engagement and the Open Media Units [the Open Broadcasting uint, as was…] of the Open University to create linked databased tools and systems related to improving the discoverability of open educational resources”. From which we maybe learn the Digital Engagement Unit and the OMU are sponsoring the OU’s Linked Data effort? As for example further evidenced by this second Linked Data related job ad – Project Officer – Linked Data

- linking and integrating information regarding the outcomes, impact and media appearance of research projects at the Open University;
– creating and making available new sets of data to support the connection between the Open University and external organisations;
– developing applications and tools to support the navigation in, search and reuse of content available at the Open University;
– improving how OU and external linked data is used by the OpenLearn website (open.edu/openlearn) to group relevant content and make recommendations to users;
– connect educational and research content with online services used by researchers and academics at the Open University;
– supporting the use of linked data in research projects;

A good example of what might be involved in that strand of work is suggested by the DiscOU (Discovering Open University Content from Other Online Resources) project:

Back on the jobs front, the Strategic Communications Programme is also appointing a couple of other positions at the moment – an Employer Engagement & Employability Manager “engag[ing] employers with the benefits of sponsoring staff on OU qualifications, and students with the impact an OU qualification can have on their career” and a Campaigns Manager (Social Media) “comfortable in the online and social media environment [who] will develop our reputation for thought leadership in areas of special interest to the University”. The Further Particulars for the Campaigns Manager go on:

Early priorities for the post will be to develop and implement the existing Social Media Content Strategy to respond to the needs of the Strategic Communications Programme (focussed on attracting more students and employers). In doing so the post holder will begin to develop The Open University’s place in public debate and position the University as a thought leader in areas of special concern. To do this, the post-holder will need to engage key academics and senior staff in the potential of social media as a tool to raise the profile for the University and themselves.

MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES

• Develop and implement a SCP Social Media Content Strategy for the University based on a focused approach aimed at maximum impact on prospective students, employer sponsors, key opinion formers and decision-makers.
• Develop and maintain knowledge of the OU’s areas of special concern, encourage debate, disseminate opinion and information accordingly to target audiences, liaising with the media relations team as appropriate for high-impact stories.
• Network across faculties, institutes and relevant service units to maximise engagement of relevant expertise and opinion gathering, to help you stimulate public debate, dissemination and impact.
• Contribute to the development and maintenance of the OU’s presence in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to attract and inform target audiences.
• Working with Digital Engagement, contribute to a pan-university approach to social media activity.
• Work with the Senior Manager, Stakeholders and Ambassadors, on the development of our thought leadership event programme harnessing social media to increase our impact with this programme.
• Day-to-day quality control of all student and employer facing content in our primary Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presences.
• Work closely with the Senior Manager, Research Communications, to expand the reach of our impact case studies for the OU’s Research Excellence Framework submission.
• Support the development and implementation of stakeholder engagement/communications with key influencers in Social Media.
• Create and deliver presentations for staff training on the power of social media to help us strengthen our reputation for excellence and thought leadership, providing briefings and guidance for presentation opportunities.
• Work with academic staff to develop their social media profiles for impact on external audiences such as potential students and the media.
• Work with staff to optimize their text, audio, and video content and social media channels, evaluating existing content. Dependent on their abilities, this may include producing and editing digital content for them.
• Identify and disseminate digital content and social media best practices to the University community.
• Contribute to development of the OU’s iTunes U and YouTube portfolio and amplify the excellent content delivered into these environments.
• Liaise as appropriate with Digital Engagement, Open Media Unit and Marketing.
• Coordinate OU competition and league tables entries and amplify our success across social media and OU owned channels (e.g. for Times Higher awards)

Social media is definitely in-scope as a comms channel, then…?!

PS no time to go in to them here, but I also notice ads for a Digital Campaign Manager, a Digital Marketing Director, and a Research and Analysis Manager, all within the Open University Worldwide Ltd Business Development Unit. Apparently, “”[t]he Open University has ambitious plans to grow the number of students and associated revenues from overseas. As part of the Open University Worldwide (OUW), the Digital Marketing Director will be accountable for the marketing strategy and delivery of the marketing plan targeted at both new and existing B2C overseas markets, the highly influential Research and Analysis Manager role will be accountable for a range of activities from providing market, competitor and regulatory analysis to shape market strategy, through to producing insight and analysis of day to day performance, the Digital Campaign Manager will be responsible for the delivery of the marketing campaigns targeting B2C overseas markets.””

As to the sorts of skills these roles require:

• Exceptional understanding of all areas of online marketing, including SEO, SEM, social media and eCRM, acquisition, retention, display, affiliates & partnerships.
• Extensive experience of web management and analytics including knowledge of content management systems, content change process, knowledge of establishing web analytics and implementing measurement tools.
• Extensive experience of managing digital agencies.
• Excellent record of success delivering ROI via innovative online marketing campaigns.
• Proven analytical skills and the ability to drive insight from consumer and market data.
• Innovative approach and understanding of how to build a brand and create online communities.

So… that’s the business of the academy then?!

Written by Tony Hirst

August 31, 2012 at 8:48 am

Posted in edubiz, Jobs

Tagged with

OU IT, Analytics and SocialLearn Vacancies Round Up

There’s been quite a flurry of OU job ads out recently in the IT and analytics areas… Here’s a quick round-up:

  • Head of IT Development (Curriculum Planning, Finance and HR) (£46,696 – £55,758): “We are looking for a Head of IT Development to manage the Curriculum Planning, Finance and HR team within IT Development.
    “You will manage a team of 15-20 Analysts and Developers, and will have responsibility for the utilisation, skills and development of staff within the team. They must be able to demonstrate leadership and management skills and the ability to drive change to completion. The Head of IT Development also has responsibility for the relationship with business partners using our Curriculum Planning, Finance and HR systems, liaising with stakeholders on a regular basis and takes overall responsibility for the delivery of the IT Development project portfolio for their business area.”
  • Head of IT Testing, Information Technology (£46,696 – £55,758): “We are looking for a Head of IT Testing to establish and lead a new IT Testing function within IT Development.
    “The post holder will assess current testing processes, tools and environments then produce and implement an overall testing strategy. The Head of IT Testing will be accountable for the quality of testing for all projects delivered by IT Development. They must be able to demonstrate leadership skills and the ability to drive process and culture change into a busy and challenging environment. The IT Development team deliver a diverse range of projects including multi-million pound systems transformation programmes, large package upgrades and enhancements and key strategic business change projects.
    “Applicants should preferably hold recognised IT Testing qualifications and will be fully conversant with best practice project management and IT development methodologies. They must have demonstrable experience of managing IT testing on large software programmes and of successfully creating and managing IT testing functions.”
  • 3x Business Systems Analysts, Information Technology (up to £39,000): “We are looking for experienced systems analysts to work in the Development section of the University’s IT Department, to support and enhance existing business applications and work on business change projects.
    “The University has recently approved a multimillion pound 3 year systems redevelopment programme. IT Development is tasked to deliver this major change programme while continuing to support the existing estate primarily its in-house systems.
    “We need to strengthen our existing 30 strong analyst team with additional experienced analysts. While this will involve a significant amount of in-house development, we expect to increase the use of off-the-shelf software, so experience of package configuration and support would also be useful.”
  • IT Project Manager, Information Technology (£36,862 – £44,016): “We are looking for one IT Project Managers to work within a new IT Project Management function within IT Development, reporting to the Head of IT Project Management.
    “You will be responsible for the successful delivery of all projects assigned to them and must be able to demonstrate leadership skills and the ability to drive change to completion.”
  • 2x Senior Business Improvement Analysts, CIO’s Office, Information Technology (£36,862 – £44,016): “The Higher Education sector is undergoing substantial change; with restructuring of funding provision and increased competition driving the need for an increasingly customer-centric, agile and efficient service. As a result, we are expanding the Business Process Improvement team whose role is to work with business partners to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and transform processes.
    “We are looking for experienced BPI Analysts with a background in process change and business transformation. Taking problem / ambition statements from our business partners across the organisation, you will work with them to develop future state processes and the roadmaps to implement those changes.
    “Knowledge of process analysis techniques and the Lean methodology is essential. You should also be a confident, experienced facilitator and communicator (used to dealing with senior and board level executives) with strong influencing & negotiation skills and enjoy working in a collaborative environment.”
  • Systems Analyst, Information Technology (up to £39,000): “We are looking for experienced systems analysts to work in the Development section of the University’s IT Department, to support and enhance existing business applications and work on business change projects.
    “The University has recently approved a multimillion pound 3 year systems redevelopment programme. IT Development is tasked to deliver this major change programme while continuing to support the existing estate primarily its in-house systems. We need to strengthen our existing 30 strong analyst team with additional experienced analysts. While this will involve a significant amount of in-house development, we expect to increase the use of off-the-shelf software, so experience of package configuration and support would also be useful. A good knowledge of structured development methods, including process and data analysis, is also a prerequisite. You should also enjoy working collaboratively, have a flexible approach and a keenness to develop your professional skills.”
  • Information Analyst (£29,972 – £35,788): “We are seeking someone to join our small team of information analysts, providing data and analysis to inform strategic and operational planning, decision making and external reporting requirements.
    “A key part of the role is the preparation and provision of analysis to support student recruitment forecasting and target-setting, as well as providing wider management information and reports in support of institutional and unit planning.
    “If you are interested in joining us, you should have a first degree (or equivalent) in a subject with a strong mathematics and/or statistics component and have experience of data manipulation and reporting using SAS, SPSS or a similar analytical tool.”
  • Learning and Teaching Librarian, Library Services (part-time, £29,972 – £35,788 (pro rata)): “We are seeking a qualified Librarian to join our professional team. You will provide specialist support to module and programme teams in the implementation of the Learning and Teaching Strategy, as well as supporting research activity. You will provide information and support to students and tutors, assist in the development and delivery of information skills training and assist in collection management.
    “You will be confident with new technologies and have the ability to excite and engage users in developing information skills and resource-based learning activities to enhance the Open University curriculum. You will understand the pedagogic use of resources and technologies and aware of the issues around digital scholarship.”
  • Comms and Relationship Manager (SocialLearn), Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) (£36,862 – £44,016): “The Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute has an opening for a Comms and Relationship Manager on the SocialLearn Project.
    “As the project moves into a new phase where we will be actively building new user communities, the need to develop partnerships will be a key success factor. Also crucial is the need to build an active user base drawn from both internal and external communities. We are, therefore, looking to acquire the services of an experienced professional to develop and manage the various audiences and stakeholders that will either have an interest in SocialLearn or the potential to engage with the system as users or developers.”
  • Research Associate (SocialLearn): Social Learning Analytics & Recommender Services, Knowledge Media Institute (KMi): “The Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute has an opening for a Research Associate: Social Learning Analytics & Recommender Services. The SocialLearn project is investigating the future of online social learning, and draws on expertise from across the OU [www.open.ac.uk/sociallearn].
    “Your responsibility will be to use your understanding of analytics and recommendation engines to improve the SocialLearn user experience.”
  • For more information about the SocialLearn project, see: SocialLearn beta, blog

    For how IT fits into the OU structure, see the OU Administrative Substructure Org Chart [PDF]

    Courses

    If you’re looking for related qualifications/career enhancement pathways, see also:

    - CIO Executive Council Pathways
    – Course – Network security: “With organisations increasingly dependent on their information systems, there is a greater need to ensure that the underlying network infrastructure being used by these systems is secure. As a leading Cisco Academy, this course includes the Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) Security course and provides a foundation for preparing for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) qualification.”
    undergrad courses in Computing/ICT (register now to lock in cheaper fees;-)
    undergrad qualifications in Computing and ICT (register now to lock in cheaper fees;-)
    postgrad qualifications in Computing and ICT, postgrad courses in business, postgrad qualifications in Technology and Technology Management

    As an OU employee, being able to register on OU undergrad courses for free has been a traditional perk… (“Staff Fee Waivers can be used for any taught course that the University offers: this includes Openings, Arts, Science and Technology Short Courses and Residential School Courses. PGCE/ITT courses are not covered unless you have special approval from your Head of Unit.”) I assume this will continue to be the case when the new fees regime kicks-in…?

Written by Tony Hirst

August 25, 2011 at 9:13 am

Posted in Jobs, OU2.0

Tagged with

OU Jobs Round-Up – Academic Positions in Educational Technology

Seems like some academic posts are appearing again to bolster REF performance, this time in IET:

  • Professor in Educational Technology (£60,217 – £84,307): We are seeking a dynamic individual with a national and international reputation in Educational Technology to support the Director in ensuring the OU is positioned at the leading edge in the following areas of research: e-assessment, mobile learning, learning/data analytics. (Learning and data analytics? Yeah, right… Btw, here’s a link to my LAK11 keynote…)
  • Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology (£46,696 – £52,556): You will play an important role within IET’s Academic Team in conducting teaching, research and scholarship in support of the strategic aims of IET and the OU. You will provide leadership in learning and teaching to members of other faculties and units, and will therefore be excellent in your own teaching and understanding of the student learning experience, as well as being a skilled communicator. (I’ve been told not to bother because of my crap research record and zero academic profile/credibility;-)
  • Research Fellowship in Technology Enhanced Learning x 2 (£36,862 – £44,016, Temporary for 24 months): We are seeking two independent researchers to conduct a programme of research linking the work of the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) to colleagues in the Centre for Education and Educational Technology, and the Centre for Research in Computing. The general themes of the research are ‘Educational Futures’ and ‘Pervasive, Ubiquitous and Ambient Computing’ and you would be expected to specify a two year programme of work in either area. The proposal should demonstrate how this work would be relevant to at least one of the Digital Scholarship, Next Generation Distance Learning or Learning in an Open World research programmes running in IET.

For folk engaged with the data side of the business, this post has also turned up:

  • Research Data/Information Manager, Research School (£29,972 – £35,788, Temporary contract for 1 year): Could you be the person we are looking for to help support the development and delivery of research data and information? This post will play a key role in the production, development and delivery of statutory institutional returns and management information relating to the University’s Research & Enterprise activities. Duties include planning, scheduling, analysis, interpretation, communication and dissemination.

Written by Tony Hirst

March 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Jobs

Corporate Data Analyst and Online Comms Jobs at the OU

Though I’m sure these sorts of job have been being advertised for years, it’s interesting tracking how they’re being represented at the moment, and the sorts of skills required.

Corporate Data and MI Analyst, Marketing (£29,853 – £35,646)

Main Purpose of the Post:
The post holder is a member of the Campaign Planning and Data team and will be required to play a pro-active role in that team, balancing the needs and recommendations of their own areas of responsibility with the wider needs and priorities of the team and the whole Marketing & Sales Unit.

This post has been constructed to assist the University to develop its marketing capacity so that challenging targets can be met. It will be essential for the post holder to work to harness the energies of academic and academic related staff in the University’s academic units, service units and regions to develop a more effective marketing strategy. This will require influencing and networking skills and an ability to adapt engagement style to an academic context.

The post holders work within a team producing Campaign Plans for both new and continuing students. The plans drive the allocation of over £10M of promotional activities (acquisition and retention campaigns).

Description of Duties of the Post:

Contribute to optimising the University’s customer targeting capability via regular reappraisal of segmentation policy with a view to increasing market share in high yield segments
Contribute to development and delivery of robust models, tools, skills and resources to enable segmentation, competitor and market analysis and data mining within the Campaign Planning Team and more widely within Marketing and Sales.

Planning 60%
Input into overall marketing plans and support planning process.
Segment the prospect data mart by developing key prospect indicators to provide Response, Reservation, Registration, Retention and other key metric predictions for each.
Support quantification of product performance predictions to provide Response, Reservation, Registration, Retention and other key metric predictions for each.
Maintain and contribute to development of a targeting model, which overlays product performance predictions/actual by segment over the agreed marketing plan to provide a targeting matrix.
Communicate targeting matrix to stakeholders and overlay tests and current campaign activity to provide an agreed campaign plan based on minimising Cost per Registration and maximising marketing mix and integration strategy.
Monitor performance daily and update segmentation, product and targeting models to maintain a data driven test and learn cycle. Identify significant deviations from forecast and potential actions.
Continually review the Customer Journey through input into creation of a Retention model based on a balanced scorecard approach. Work with key stakeholders to prioritise and implement developments.
Input into model validation and quality control.

Data 20%
Support development of a marketing data mart to primarily support marketing analysis and campaign execution.
Provide input into marketing data developments encouraging sharing of data and best practise.
Support development of in-house tools and processes to improve marketing analysis and campaign execution, primarily SAS and SIEBEL. Support other areas in evaluating tools and systems.
Where appropriate, maintain the relationship with OU data providers ensuring relevant data processing, development, quality and SLA’s are controlled.
Promote data use within marketing and other OU areas, maximising the use of data and providing a hub for data developments to be controlled

MI 20%
Input into development of key performance measures to be used across the OU.
Develop relationships with key OU stakeholders to ensure common goals are met.
Facilitate the use of marketing data across the OU and develop tools to support.
Support data focused research and tests with analytical input.
Input into development and maintenance of campaign performance measures.

Person Spec – Essential
Substantial experience in a campaign planning, analysis or similar role including for
example; campaign execution, data extraction, the development of data infrastructure.
Experience of Direct Marketing.
Experience of B2B and / or B2C marketing.
Experience of data propensity and segmentation modelling.
A balance of marketing analysis and technical skills, including data quality and protection.
Experience of test and learn data driven analysis, targeting processes and systems;
Proven ability to see trends in data and drill down to issues or key data.
Proven ability to develop relationships with key decision makers and stakeholders.
Proven ability to translate marketing requirements into planning / execution requirements.
Excellent presentation and facilitation skills.
Provide analytic support and direction to colleagues to ensure understanding.
Proven ability to meet challenging deadlines without compromising quality.

Still no adverts* for a “learning data analyst” though, tasked with analysing data to see:

- whether effective use is being made of linked to resources, particularly subscription Library content and open educational resources;

- whether there’s anything in the student activity data and/or social connection data we can use to predict attainment and/or satisfaction levels or improve retention levels.

* That said, IET do collect lots of stats, and I think a variety of stats are now available relating to activity on the Moodle VLE. I’m not sure who does what with all that data though…?

PS I wonder if any of the analysts that companies like Pearson presumably employ look to model ways of maximising the profitabilty, to those companies, of student acquisition and retention, given education is their business? (See also: Apollo Group results – BPP and University of Phoenix, Publishing giant Pearson looks set to offer degrees).

PPS This job ad may also be of interest to some? Online Communications Officer, Open University Business School (£29,853 – £35,646)

Again, it’s interesting to mark what’s expected…

This brand new role in the School will drive the development of online communications. Focusing on increasing engagement and traffic through the website, you will ensure this work is appropriately integrated into the wider work of the University’s Online Services, Marketing and Communications teams. Reporting to the Director of Business Development and External Affairs, it will be your responsibility to develop the website including content, usability, optimisation, interactivity and driving increased visitor numbers and online registration. You will continually find new and inventive ways to engage with our stakeholders and promote the reputation of the Business School through the online channel.

Your responsibilities will also extend to the School’s virtual presence through social networks, iTunes U and YouTube and utilise these channels to our advantage. You will increase our presence as well as delivering virtual campaigns to improve the overall student numbers. In this role, it will also be your responsibility to develop relationships with other areas of the University engaged in this work and will play a key role in the management of these relationships.

Summary of Duties
The main duties of the Online Communications Officer are detailed below.

• Advance the social media strategy ensuring it is inline with the Universities media position, market response and the development of new technology.
• Manage the online activity of the Business School’s social media communities
• Liaise, as appropriate, with units within The Open University, such as Online Services to keep up to date with policy changes and AACS regarding technical developments.
• Liaise with the Business School’s Information Officer for the maintenance and feeding of the Research Database into the website
• Generate assets to host on the website e.g. an Elluminate Demo Video
• Keep abreast of trends and developments to ensure that the Business School’s online presence remains at the forefront
• Work alongside Online Services, to monitor the visitor traffic of the website and establish appropriate and effective KPIs for dissemination across the Business School, for example through the creation of a dashboard.
• Engage in personal development based on organisational needs and developments to foster a high level of professional skills and technical ability
• Ensure that corporate branding and media guidelines are adhered to
• Understand and appreciate internal procedures and standards and be proactive in recommending improvements
• Ability to apply best professional practice to deliver effective solutions that take into account technical, budgetary and other project considerations
• Edit the content of both the internet and intranet
• Collate, interpret and select key information for dissemination on the latest trends and research in social media both within the OU and externally
• Produce graphics where necessary or liaise with designers in the University or outside agencies to produce graphics.
• Create/collate digital assets including audio and video files
• Post moderate discussion forums
• Disseminate best practice through a variety of communications channels eg project website, OU Life news, brief updates etc.
• Develop and maintain awareness of different audience needs in relation to appropriate communications channels (eg email, screensaver, website, print).
• Act as a flexible member of the Business Development and External Affairs team.
• Carry out other tasks as specified from time to time by the Project Director

Related: Joanne Jacobs’ Are you social or anti-social?: “How to employ a Social Media Strategist, and how you should measure their performance. (Social media isn’t going away. But some Social Media Strategists should go away.)”

Written by Tony Hirst

January 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

Posted in Analytics, Jobs

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