The style, it is a-changin’

When Ohio State switched to AP as its primary editorial style last year one of the main factors driving the change was the fact that it is perhaps the most current style. AP updates and changes pretty regularly based on trends, new words entering the lexicon and, in some cases, common sense prevailing.

Two weeks ago, AP made a shift that falls in the latter category, moving away from its rule of abbreviating state names in the body of stories  (which seemed, well, odd). Here is AP’s explanation:

“Effective May 1, the AP will spell out state names in the body of stories. Datelines will continue to use abbreviations. Currently, most state names are abbreviated in stories. The change is being made to be consistent in our style for domestic and international stories. International stories have long spelled out state names in the body of stories. State abbreviations will continue to be used in lists, agate, tabular material, nonpublishable editor’s notes and credit lines. They will also be used in short-form identification of political party affiliation. Photo captions will continue to use abbreviations, too. This change will improve consistency and efficiency for domestic and international stories, eliminating the need to spell out all state names in international copy, and to abbreviate them in domestic copy.”

This change is welcome as far as I’m concerned. It always seemed counterintuitive  to abbreviate states in running text, so it warmed the heart of this word nerd to see the shift.

Buckeye Voices: From the web to the page

Late last year, University Communications launched Buckeye Voices, a blog for commentary from Ohio State’s thought leaders. The early feedback has been positive. People have said nice things.

The blog is off to a good start, but we’ll continue to seek ways to help it evolve and remain a destination spot for people seeking commentary from the Ohio State community. A first step in the evolution is to integrate the blog into our print publications. Many of our pubs, most notably Ohio State Alumni Magazine, have long been carriers of opinions from university leaders, alumni and friends. Beginning with our May/June edition, the commentary space has been re-worked to share a closer kinship with the Buckeye Voices blog. Take a look (click to enlarge):


One of our challenges in this web to print conversion is to keep the magazine space from becoming the blog’s older and stodgier sibling. Striking imagery (I’d say John Glenn is striking) is one way to make that happen. Another is to use the magazine as a space to drive traffic to the blog and to solicit ideas that we can use on the web, in print or both.

Further developing the print presence of Buckeye Voices will be top-of-mind as we tackle the redesigns of onCampus and our giving magazine, Leaders’ Impact. Ohio State’s thought leaders have important things to say and it’s our job to make sure those messages are amplified in every possible way.

April 17: Story meeting recap

We hosted the second monthly communicator story meeting on Thursday and it was a productive one. Following up on our initial meeting, I shared a presentation on University Communications platforms and publications. Our hope is that the presentation can help build better understanding of our work and help communicators identify ways their content may augment, supplement or contribute to ours. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view the presentation here: EdCommPubs.

After the presentation, we had a great discussion about an upcoming story project focusing on the many ways that Ohio State supports military veterans. This is tentatively scheduled to be a magazine cover piece in the January 2015 edition, and we’re in the process of developing ways to tell this story on all of our platforms. The feedback and ideas we received were excellent and gave us plenty to consider as story plans come together. You can take a look at meeting notes here: UC Story Meeting 04.17.14

Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 15. At that meeting we’ll spend most of our story discussion time talking about the many ways Ohio State is making strides in the fight against cancer. While The James is certainly leading the fight, I know that a number of colleges and units have had breakthroughs that are adding to Ohio State’s role as a leader in that battle. Please bring ideas if you have them.

Let’s start from the beginning

About two weeks ago we convened the first story meeting for college and unit communicators. This first meeting was more of a meet-and-greet, but I’m hoping that in the future the time can be used to discuss ways to tell the best Ohio State stories in college publications as well as University Communications’ vehicles.

One question that came up consistently in the meeting was (paraphrased): “What is a University Communications publication, anyway?” It’s a fair question. Perhaps the most basic and important question, to be honest. To answer the question, I’m going to walk through all of our pubs at the next story meeting on April 17. However, not everyone can attend, so I’m going to provide a brief primer here. This is a good starting point for this blog, because ultimately most everything that follows will be about these print and e-publications. So here goes…

  • Ohio State Alumni Magazine (print): This is mailed six times a year to 116,000 members of the Alumni Association. It is perhaps our oldest publication and has been produced in some form or other for more than 100 years. A truncated page-turning PDF of the magazine is sent by email to alumni who donate less than $75 a year to Ohio State (an audience of about 138,000).
  • onCampus (print): Our flagship internal publication, onCampus is distributed every other week to roughly 26,000 faculty and staff.
  • OSU Today (e-pub): The closest thing to a daily we have, this goes to faculty and staff five days a week during spring, fall and winter and three days a week in the summer.
  • Connect (e-pub): Our publication with the largest circulation, this is delivered to nearly 330,000 alumni, staff, students and friends on a monthly basis. We typically try to send on the third Thursday of each month, but that can vary based on content.
  • Buckeye Net News (e-pub): All undergrads receive this once-a-week publication that is produced in collaboration with Student Life.
  • OSU Weekly (e-pub): All grad students receive this publication, which is similar in nature to Buckeye Net News, but with content more geared to that specific audience.
  • Leaders’ Impact (print): This magazine is mailed to Ohio State major donors two times a year. We’re currently in the process of taking a look at all aspects of this publication, and it is one that could see some alterations in the coming year.
  • High Points (e-pub): The monthly points of pride email goes to volunteer leaders as well as Advancement staff. We’ve also recently added distribution to the President’s Council and the Board of Trustees at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. This content is also available online at
  • The Nutshell (e-pub): A monthly newsletter for alumni club and society leaders, this is sent to roughly 1,000 alumni group leaders who are encouraged to forward to their memberships.
  • Alumni Football News (e-pub): An event and feature-story based publication centered on Buckeye football, this is distributed six or seven times a year during the football season to all alumni in Ohio and Alumni Association members out of state.
  • President’s Club E-News (e-pub): This compilation of news, information and giving stories is distributed to 7,500 members of President’s Club, an Ohio State donor group.

All told, we produce 11 publications that reach more than one million audience members. Going forward, you can come to this space to learn about how these publications operate and where your content may fit within them.