April 30, 2008

Welcome to the new Web site for news about SIUC

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale today (April 30) launched a new Web-based communications tool aimed at keeping SIUC students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters informed of the many achievements and positive developments on campus.

The new Web site will replace the weekly Southern Spotlight electronic newsletter with a more sophisticated presentation and wider focus, University officials said. It also will aim for both on- and off-campus audiences in a bid to fill the need for more SIUC information by both groups.

To access the new Web site click here, or go to the SIUC home page here and click on the icon.

Mike Ruiz, director of University Communications, said the new electronic publication builds on his staff's strengths and backgrounds while increasing the profile of the work produced by the unit.

"We have a team of people here whose backgrounds are in writing and editing news while at the same time people want more information about what's going on around campus," Ruiz said. "We produce a lot of press releases every day, but the outside media is only going to use so many of those, because of their audience or space or for other reasons. So we thought we'd just do it ourselves."

University Communications maintains a staff of writers, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, Web designers and editors who perform a variety of public relations, information and marketing roles for the University. It is also home to Barking Dawg Productions, a student-professional venture aimed at marketing SIUC to prospective students and supporters.

The new publication, which the unit will continue temporarily publishing under the Spotlight moniker, will repackage and deliver University Communications' product on the Web. It will be updated daily.

Each Wednesday, all campus e-mail addresses will receive a link inviting users to visit the Web site. Plans call for off-campus subscribers such as alumni, parents or other supporters to eventually receive the weekly link, too, Ruiz said.

"We want people to get in the habit of checking our Web site each day, just like they check other sites by habit," he said. "We want to make it easy for people to find this information and forward to their friends and family."

Another aspect of the effort involves posting the site to social networking Web sites, and "getting into that bloodstream quicker," Ruiz said.

The new publication, which the campus community will have the opportunity to help name, is the latest in a long line of campus newsletters, starting with the "Normal Gazette," which began publishing in 1888 when SIUC was still known as Southern Illinois Normal University. Over the years, campus newsletters have included Southern Windows, the SIUCourier and most recently Southern Spotlight, a weekly internal electronic newsletter.

Tom Woolf, director of the public relations unit within University Communications, said he and the writers producing the daily news releases have more than 100 years combined newsgathering and media experience. He said the new publication will make it easier for the University community, both on and off campus, to receive a steady diet of SIUC news.

"This is a fresh approach to our long-standing efforts to promote the many positives across our campus," he said.

The new site will incorporate features of the current Southern Spotlight, such as human resources information of importance to employees and lists of new hires and retirees. Readers can access these by clicking the "For the Record" button on the bottom left corner of the Web page. Fliers Row, a Southern Spotlight service featuring fliers announcing events across the campus, is part of the new Web site, as is the calendar of campus events.

New to the site is "Ten Questions With", designed to be a fun way for members of the campus community to learn about people who work at SIUC. Employees provide their own answers to the questions. A different employee will be featured each Wednesday.

To vote on the name of the new publication, click here.