A headline on the Texas A&M home page is usually seen by more than 25,000 people a day. So how can your department get a piece of that valuable traffic? Here are some of the criteria we use when choosing which campus events will be featured on the home page.
- You can’t win if you don’t play. We don’t write our own material. Every event on the home page comes from http://calendar.tamu.edu.
- Appeal to outsiders. The main purpose of our home page is to reach out to prospective students and their parents. If a 30-year-old two-percenter has trouble caring about the event’s headline, a Delaware senior deciding between Cornell and A&M will have even more trouble.
- Headlines should stand alone. They should make sense by themselves. As a whole, the headlines on the home page should communicate a strong, positive message about Texas A&M – even if a visitor doesn’t click on any of them.
- Create a wow. Every headline should cause readers to say, “I didn’t know anybody did that. At least, I never heard of that before. And to think that it’s all happening at Texas A&M University. They sure do amazing things there.” Even if they don’t understand how the technology works, they still may be impressed by what it does!
- Make them want to click on the headline. Don’t expect visitors to click on “Monthly Departmental Seminar” before they can find out that it features a famous researcher with a tantalizing topic. They won’t bother to click at all on such a vague headline, and they may never know why they should have. If you have a famous researcher with a tantalizing topic, put that information in the headline.
- Make your headlines unique. Of course, if you’re presenting a series of identical workshops or performances, the headlines on the calendar will repeat. Otherwise, put the recurring seminar series name in the Subtitle or Description field, and leave the Title field for the latest, current installment. For example, you can use the lecture title as the event title, or condense it down. If you don’t know the lecture title, use the speaker’s name.
- Use title case. That means capitalizing each word, except for articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and forms of “to be.” It keeps your headline from standing out like a sore thumb.
But the headline, though it should stand alone, is not the whole story.
- Use proper grammar and punctuation. No matter how interesting the event, substandard English does not represent the University well, and will not appear on the home page (unless we’re slipping at our job.)
- Inform, don’t promote. Events on the home page answer the basic questions of who, what, when, where, and why, and your article or listing needs to match that style. In truth, shameless promotion turns off any readers that you’re not targeting. That is, parents might want to read about a junior service project, but if the article begins with “Hey Juniors!” they may assume they’re not supposed to. And whenever you say, “Don’t miss it!!” you’re saying that you can’t think of enough good reasons not to.
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