Texas A&M AgriLife has partnered with New City Media to research the AgriLife brand and digital presence in order to develop a strategic path forward, beginning in 2021. This partnership will assess the state of AgriLife’s brand identity, core messages and web presence. Beginning in the later half of 2021, AgriLife will begin executing on the institutional goal of brand unification and the integration of AgriLife’s digital presence. This partnership is meant to empower AgriLife team members and partners with resources, tools and strategies to grow and evolve the AgriLife brand in a cohesive and intentional manner.
See the timeline of important upcoming dates.
Latest Extension Web Hub Updates & Correspondence
College and Department Website Transition Project
As distributed via VC Dean 12/9/2021
Department Heads and Associate Department Heads for Extension,
As you know, we have been working closely with New City to elevate the reputation of each department and the College among target audiences through an improved digital presence. The following is an update on the status of the comprehensive project to transition department websites in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As a reminder, this project provides new, updated templates to each department, so the sites visually match the College’s website and follow university branding. These new templates allow us also to take action to ensure security and accessibility on these sites. Through this process, each department website will go through three phases: planning, development, and launch/delivery. We had estimated time from project start to completion to be 20 weeks. Since our first update, we have completed content audits and project briefs and preliminarily met with the following departments, listed below:
- Agricultural Economics
- Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications
- Soil and Crop Sciences
- Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management
- Poultry Science
- Animal Science
- Horticultural Sciences
Others are in progress or will be started soon. In that time, we also brought on a third-party partner, New City, to assist with the development of a website template. This, however, could not be done without considering the unique needs of each department and the complexities presented by our agency affiliations. Joining forces with New City allowed us to consider changes that would be occurring in tandem as the agency worked to complete the major digital project for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
Partnership with Digital Education As part of the planning process, we have also proactively collaborated with Texas A&M AgriLife Digital Education to identify Extension educational publications that currently live on department websites to ensure that these documents are inventoried and transitioned to AgriLife Learn, under criteria shared with Extension Associate Department Heads in October. In support of the decision by Extension leadership, this will further allow us to create a more seamless user experience that will be accomplished by linking out relevant categories from AgriLife Learn on department websites.
The Educational Product Specialists from the Digital Education team will work alongside our strategists for these departments:
- Animal Science, Casey Matzke and Maggie Berger
- Agricultural Economics, Casey Matzke and Carrie Baker
- Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, Odessa Keenan and Carrie Baker
- Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Mikaela Seeger and Rob Williams
- Biochemistry and Biophysics, Mikaela Seeger and Maggie Berger
- Ecology and Conservation Biology, Mikaela Seeger and Carrie Baker
- Entomology, Mikaela Seeger and Rob Williams
- Horticultural Sciences, Taylor Yates and Robin Williams
- Food Science and Technology, Odessa Keenan and Maggie Berger
- Nutrition, Odessa Keenan and Maggie Berger
- Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Mikaela Seeger and Rob Williams
- Poultry Science, Casey Matzke and Maggie Berger
- Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management, Casey Matzke and Carrie Baker
- Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Taylor Yates and Carrie Baker
- Soil and Crop Sciences, Mikaela Seeger and Rob Williams
Revised Website Timeline Production of the site template with our New City partner has delayed our time to completion for our first round of sites, which were set to be completed in October and could potentially delay the timeline for future sites. We are hoping to have a revised template soon and will work diligently to regain time lost. For many department sites, these transitions are complex and include not only updating the theme, but also consolidating and decommissioning old websites, migrating content and, in some instances, creating new content. We are doing the best we can to prepare for the transition of these department websites once we have the template in hand. However, we do want to be realistic about content transfer and the capacity of our team to ensure a smooth, efficient process.
We will update timelines and share as soon as the test site is in hand, and we have begun transition of the first set of department sites. This will allow us to have a better idea of the time each will take so that we can offer you our best estimate of the time to completion. Again, we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we take on this difficult, but important project. We look forward to the benefits these sites will provide to departments, once completed. While time consuming up front, this partnership with New City and with Texas A&M AgriLife Digital Education has allowed us to identify and mitigate any potential roadblocks we might discover during content transfer.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the migration of department websites specifically, do not hesitate to reach out to Carrie Baker, marketing strategy coordinator for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Questions pertaining to the website triage project across Texas A&M AgriLife can be directed to Allison LaRocca. Inquiries specific to the migration of Extension publications and other digital learning materials previously hosted on department websites should be directed to Caitlyn Calvert.
Marketing Strategy Manager
Marketing Strategy Coordinator
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Digital Learning Caitlyn.email@example.com
Migration of Extension Publications
Action Items for Fall 2021
As distributed via Extension Leadership & Digital Education 10/6/2021
We have heard the feedback that there have been multiple requests related to publications and the migration to AgriLife Learn and that sometimes this communication has been confusing. To help alleviate that challenge and to provide more transparency about the process for the ongoing migration and updating of publications, we are writing to share (1) an overview of what will be happening with publications over the next several months and (2) a preview of the actions AgriLife Digital Education (ADE) will be requesting from your department or unit in the coming months.
Please read, internalize, and share this information with your faculty and staff as you see fit. There are some frequently asked questions at the end of this document to address questions we anticipate you may have. If you have additional questions that you feel pertain to you and others, please email Caitlyn Calvert and Stephanie Burns directly. If you have questions specific to your department or unit, please reach out to your Educational Product Specialist (EPS) for clarity.
Quarter 4 (October-December) Key Projects Overview
Now that courses and paid publications have been fully migrated to AgriLife Learn, there are two key projects related to publications happening from October to December.
- ADE will be migrating FREE publications to AgriLife Learn. This migration will begin during the month of November with a target completion data of February 28, 2022.
- ADE and Extension Leadership will identify a new physical location for the Warehouse (formerly, “bookstore”). The target timeline for this move is spring of 2022, but two things will need to happen as we end 2021 to prepare for this move.
a. ADE will begin updating any out-of-date publications (free and for fee) to ensure all inventory is up to date
b. ADE will work with departments to further identify any Warehouse inventory that will be recycled and no longer distributed at the new location
Quarter 4 Actions by Departments and Units
ADE is committed to providing a complete inventory of all current AgriLife products (courses, merchandise, and publications) for each department on or before January 31, 2022. Doing this will ensure that all departments and units will have an accurate picture of the resources they have to support programming and education, and it will align with the work of the seven pilot CPAs in building resource inventories. To do this, ADE will engage Departments and Units in a phased review of publications. This review will involve categorizing publications as keep / update / recycle based on the definitions below.
- Keep: content is accurate and up-to-date, ADA compliant, logo is current, publication was
- created or updated in the last 5 years (since 2016)
- Update: content is still relevant but needs to be updated (ex. charts/graphs/data are out-ofdate), logo needs to be updated, and/or publication is not ADA compliant
- Recycle: content is no longer relevant, industry standards have changed, or a newer publication
- has been created to replace this one.
October: Phase 1 – Review of Free Publications
By October 8th, EPS will reach out to each ADH or PL to share a spreadsheet listing all known free publications associated with their department or unit. By November 1, the ADH or PL will return the spreadsheet with each free publication listed as keep / update / recycle based on the criteria above. The ADH or PL will also identify any additional free publications from department, unit, or other sites that are not accounted for on the original spreadsheet. Questions that arise during this review process should be directed to the EPS for the department or unit.
Beginning in November, ADE will use each department/unit list to begin migrating free publications listed as “keep” or “update” to AgriLife Learn.
- Free publications listed as “keep” or “update” will be migrated to AgriLife Learn with a target completion date of February 28, 2022.
- Free publications listed as “update” will be updated and the new version will replace the previous one on AgriLife Learn by October 1, 2022.
November: Phase 2 – Review of Paid Publications
First, we want to acknowledge that we have asked departments and units to review these publications previously. Unfortunately, in that review many publications were tagged for “recycle” but were still being regularly requested from the bookstore by the public. To ensure a better process and provide departments and units with better information to make informed decisions, in early November EPS will reach out to each department or unit leader to share a spreadsheet listing all paid publications associated with that department or unit including sales data from September and October. By December 1, the department or unit leader will return the spreadsheet with each paid publication listed as keep / update / recycle based on the criteria above. Questions that arise during this review process should be directed to the EPS for the department or unit.
In December and January, ADE will use each department/unit list to remove paid publications listed as “recycle” and initiate updating of paid publications listed as “update.”
How can I access a free publication that used to be on the “bookstore” and is no longer there?
If you or anyone in your department/unit needs access to a free publication that was listed on the bookstore, you can contact your EPS to have a PDF copy sent to you. Once these free publications are reviewed in the month of October, ADE will begin moving free publications listed as “keep” or “update” to the AgriLife Learn website where they will once again be accessible electronically. We know this is inconvenient, but it is a necessary step for us to review these publications to ensure that AgriLife Learn represents only content that is accurate and relevant from each department.
What will happen to publications we decide to recycle or need to update?
Hard copies of publications listed as “recycle” will be destroyed and the publication will no longer be listed on AgriLife Learn. If the author or department would like to maintain a PDF copy of the publication for their records, they may request it from their EPS.
Publications listed as “update” will be maintained on AgriLife Learn until the updated version is available. As these publications are updated, the new version will be uploaded to replace the previous version.
Digital Product Workflow
As distributed via Dr. Angela Burkham November 9, 2020
For the purpose of this document, the term “digital product” includes new websites (whether hosted by AgriLife Extension or elsewhere), new online courses (regardless of where hosted), digital videos, and establishing a new presence on one or more social media platforms (including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
In an effort, to provide an improved web experience for AgriLife Extension customers, we are beginning to more closely monitor our overall web presence and make steps toward better integration of web-based content with the ultimate-goal of having all web-based content housed under a single website for the agency. This would provide Agency personnel with an outlet for posting digital materials while allowing visitors to engage with all that Extension has to offer in a single website. This document describes the workflow of decision making as new digital products are proposed. Within the next few days an automated electronic submission system will be provided. Do not submit requests directly to a Professional Services Unit.
Step 1 – Idea Generation & Initial Screening
Responsible: Agents, Specialists, ADHs/PLs and RPLs
As personnel consider the best tools to meet customer needs, they may propose one or more digital products. To the extent possible, an assessment must be conducted to determine the demand for the proposed product and identify any potential competition for the type of product being proposed. They should vet the ideas with their colleagues, potential audience members, or others before proposing the idea to the relevant RPL or ADH/PL, whose approval is needed to move the idea forward. If approved, the concept will advance to Step 2.
Step 2 – CLT Screening
Responsible: ADH/PLs and RPLs
Once the RPL and/or ADH/PL has approved, the concept will be shared with other ADHs and RPLs as well as the appropriate Associate Director based upon the subject matter. This will help to identify other similar ideas or products that already exist or are also under consideration for development. Once the idea is refined based on this information, the concept will move to Step 3.
Step 3 – Associate Director Approval
With the information generated in previous steps, approval to proceed must then be granted by either Dan Hale or Courtney Dodd, depending on the content being developed. This approval is to move the content forward Step 4.
Step 4 – Basic Market Analysis & Content Development
Responsible: AgriLife Digital Engagement Team and AgriLife Marketing & Communications Team
Review the proposal and the assessment to determine the demand for the proposed product and identify any potential competition for the type of product being proposed. In this step, potential product pricing will also be assessed.
Once the analysis is completed, the relevant review team will notify the agent/specialist as well as the relevant administrators, including the associate director, of the findings. If the associate director concludes that the project should move forward, then the agent or specialist will work with an individual from the corresponding team to move the content into a digital format.
Step 5 – Formal Peer Review
Once the idea is approved and broadly vetted, the detailed content should be developed, reviewed and maintained by a panel of experts. This will ensure that the content being disseminated by AgriLife Extension is based on current, accurate information. The process is to be managed by an ADH/PL. Peer review is as critical for digital products as it is for other types of output generated by agents or specialists.
One Brand-One Team Approach
As distributed via Director Dr. Jeff Hyde April 3, 2020
I continue to be impressed each day with what we have done to serve Texans during this time of COVID-19. This includes the support that you have shown for your AgriLife Extension family. Your passion for people and for the work is remarkable. I and the entire leadership team are proud of this agency’s efforts! We have come together as “One Brand-One Team,” which was a theme for AgriLife Extension when I arrived last summer, to do our best to serve every Texan.
Thinking a few weeks ago of “One Brand-One Team,” I had begun to work with the AgriLife Communications team to assess the agency’s web presence. In doing so, we learned that we have at least 600 websites representing some portion of AgriLife Extension. This makes it virtually impossible to convey to the public the fullness of who we are and what we can provide to them.
While I have encouraged you to explore digital delivery options in response to COVID-19, and you have responded incredibly well, we have been discussing ways to more fully support you in a way that doesn’t continue to expand the number of unique logos and websites that we must manage. We have continued to ask ourselves how we can manage through this period so that we are in a good position on the other side.
One step toward that end is to eliminate the creation of new websites, whether those are created on your own or by outsourcing the work. Please connect with Marketing & Communications if you have an idea for a new website. They will work with you and the web team to determine the best way to provide your content online. This decision does not impact routine updates to existing websites. However, it may mean that design of a new programmatic website (or redesign of an existing site) be halted during this process.
I believe that the web team can work with you to accomplish your goals within the framework we have established. I do not anticipate that this will negatively impact our ability to meet the needs of our audiences.
I hope you understand the necessity of this as we continue to seek ways to fully live out the “One Brand-One Team” approach in all that we do.
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension