News.rice.edu is ‘like a superstore’

FROM RICE NEWS STAFF REPORTS

You probably noticed that over the past few weeks, this site has had more than a facelift – it’s sporting a whole new body that has heads turning, mice clicking and phones tweeting faster than ever before.

The redesigned News and Media Relations website, news.rice.edu (formerly media.rice.edu), makes it easier to access news articles, feature stories, videos and photos and share them via social media.

Stories on the site can be tweeted or shared on Facebook and Google Plus just by clicking on icons near the top of the article. Readers can also post comments at the bottom of articles.

Articles are posted daily to make the news available faster than on the old site, and the “freshest” content can be found at the top of the “Current News” section.

Rice schools and departments that want to use Rice News stories about their students, faculty and staff on their own websites can embed the content from an RSS feed that alerts them anytime a relevant story, video or photo is posted on news.rice.edu. They can also click on a word in the Common Topics “tag cloud” in the right column to get a list or an RSS feed of all the relevant postings.

For more specific searches involving faculty members’ names or a particular subject matter, readers can use the “Search Rice News” box at the top of the right column. The results will show all postings from Rice News, Dateline Rice and news releases in which the key words appear.

“The new site is like a superstore,” said B.J. Almond, senior director of news and media relations. “Whether you’re shopping for an archived Rice News story, a recent video, an article from last week’s Dateline, a photo gallery or just checking out the current news at Rice, you can do it all at news.rice.edu. And if you want others to enjoy what you’ve found on the site, tweet away.”

In addition to separate galleries for photos and videos, the site features current and back editions of Dateline and Rice News as well as an archive of news releases, and a section that shows the latest tweets from RiceUNews. The “Contact Us” page lists the names of the News and Media Relations team and the news beats each member covers, and the “National Media Relations” page tells producers how to contact David Ruth, director of national media relations, about interviewing Rice experts in the TV interview studio in Allen Center. The “Subscribe” page can be used to get on the mailing list for the weekly Rice News and daily Dateline Rice newsletters and to subscribe to specific RSS feeds.

Sean Rieger, director of Web development for public affairs, and his team have been developing the site for nearly two years with assistance from Web Services. The complex task entailed transferring more than 10,300 entries from the News and Media archives dating back to 1992 so that they’re accessible from the new site. Rieger said Chris Pound, developer and systems administrator for Rice’s Enterprise Applications, and Pound’s team were integral to the success of the project.

“Since a lot of the content from Rice News is used on department sites across campus, we wanted a format that makes it easy to share stories, videos and photos not just on other websites but via social media as well, and the new site makes that possible,” Rieger said.

“Part of our new strategy is to tell Rice’s story to the world,” he said. “The days of keeping content ‘behind the hedges’ are gone. Our new strategy is to syndicate our content out to blogs, news sites and social media. We can only get in front of so many people, but if it’s easy for those people to share, then there’s no limit to our audience. In addition, for the first time ever, we are encouraging comments and conversation on the News and Media site. This is a huge step forward for Rice on so many levels, and I’m incredibly excited to see it happen.”

Rieger designed the site so that YouTube videos embedded in stories will play in HD directly from the Rice site just by clicking on them, which makes it easier for viewers to watch video content without having to leave the story they are reading.

The site can make its own app for iPhones. Just browse to news.rice.edu on your iPhone and click on the “add bookmark” icon. Select “add to home screen” from the menu that pops up. Type in “Rice News” and click the “add” button. “This will allow you to enjoy all the geeky goodness that is Rice News on your iPhone,” Rieger said. The site will also reformat to fit Android, Blackberry and even Palm operating systems.

“All eyes are on Rice during its centennial year, and we want to continue to set the standard for clear, credible and convincing communications,” said Linda Thrane, vice president for public affairs. “With the new News and Media site, we are making the rich content about the work of this university even more accessible, and we making it ‘conversational’ so people can comment on our stories and make them part of their own communications. Rice may be a small university, but we pack a wallop when it comes to telling our story.”

If you have questions about how to use news.rice.edu, contact Arie Passwaters, Web editor, at 713-348-6773 or arie@rice.edu.

 

 

About Rice News Staff

The Rice News is produced weekly by the Office of Public Affairs at Rice University.