Electronic Communications Publishing
July 1, 2019
Vice President for Technology/Chief Information Officer
Minnesota State University, Mankato’s mission reflects an institutional commitment to promote learning through effective undergraduate and graduate teaching, scholarship, and research in service to the state, the region, and the global community. Content published on official University electronic communication channels serves many constituents in order to fulfill the University’s mission and goals and reflect the University’s values. The University encourages faculty, staff, and students to utilize electronic communications as publication channels for furthering the University’s strategic goals and objectives, for marketing the University, and for conveying information.
It is the objective of this policy to provide clear definitions and guidance with regards to branding, accuracy, responsibility to those who have been tasked with publishing content on the University's electronic communications channels, or on third-party sites where the University is being represented in an official capacity.
Official University electronic communications must comply with all applicable federal and state laws, system and University policies, and negotiated agreements, and follow technology standards and best practices. Examples include, but are not limited to, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Family Educational Right of Privacy Act (FERPA), Minnesota State College System (MnSCU) Acceptable Use of Computers and Information Technology Resources, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards.
Official public electronic communications channel: Any official University communications on an Internet channel, especially (but not limited to) websites and apps, that are accessible to the general public. Examples include all websites on the *.mnsu.edu domain and social media sites for the University or its entities.
Official private electronic communications channel: Any official University communications channel with role-based access restriction.
Entity: A University division, office, college, department, program, or strategic content group.
Official content: Information published by University entities. Official content must be published on official University electronic communication channels, for the sole purpose of promoting official University or entity objectives.
Unofficial content: Personal and group websites that use the University’s hosting services and domains, but are not used for official University content.
Content owner: Any entity or a designated representative responsible for creation and maintenance of official content.
Content maintenance: Adding, updating and removing content to insure that it is valid and current.
Responsibilities and Relationships
The Office of Integrated Marketing (IM) is responsible for the overall University marketing and content strategy. IM oversees the development and implementation of appropriate marketing messaging and brand identity standards on electronic communication publishing channels.
IT Solutions (ITS) is responsible for development and maintenance of the University electronic information delivery infrastructure. ITS performs research, testing and analysis of technical solutions and standards and implements or makes recommendations for content delivery infrastructure changes.
An entity is responsible for creating and maintaining its official content.
The official website template is the approved implementation of brand identity for official University websites. The template is developed jointly by IM and ITS and is designed to ensure adherence to all applicable graphical standards and technical requirements. All official University websites are required to use the website template. The website template is a suite of design options that have been developed to meet specific purposes based on considerations such as the nature of content presented, entity marketing objectives, and/or intended audience. Entities with coding or styling on official website pages that does not meet graphical standards or technical requirements will be notified by ITS. It is the entity’s responsibility to address the coding or styling concerns with the support of ITS.
Some official University websites are resource channels and serve as a gateway to subscribed vendor resources essential to faculty and student learning and research. To achieve a solution that best ensures adherence to University brand, the website template, and technical standards where possible, entities should consult with IM and ITS in advance of the implementation.
Entities that operate independently or semi-independently but are directly associated with the University through a special arrangement are considered to be semi-autonomous for the purposes of this policy. University brand and technical standards apply to semi-autonomous entities. Semi-autonomous units may utilize the website template, but it is not required. Examples of semi-autonomous units include athletics, centers, partnerships, bookstore, and food services.
Official University content
Entities with an official web presence, including social media, are responsible for maintaining the content on official sites. The entity must designate a faculty or staff member to serve as its web content liaison (WCL).
The WCL serves as the entity liaison with IM and ITS. The WCL is responsible for completing the appropriate role-based website training for ensuring all official content supports the spirit of this policy, is continuously monitored and regularly updated, and clearly labeled with up-to-date entity contact information. The WCL is responsible for the official social media site(s), including content posted and site security.
The WCL may assign additional individuals who are authorized to create or maintain their official entity content, including social media sites. Except for social media content, the entity may contract with ITS to perform ongoing content management services.
Unofficial content authors assume personal responsibility for compliance with appropriate regulations. The University does not review, edit, endorse, nor is it responsible for unofficial content or links associated with unofficial pages or sites.
Unofficial content stored on University computers or using an official University domain must not use the official University website template. Brand elements, such as official University colors and logos, are allowed. All brand elements must adhere to University graphic standards.
Areas designated for hosting personal and group content cannot be used for official content and vice versa. Examples of unofficial content include personal faculty, staff and student pages, student organization websites, personal social media sites.
Individuals or groups using University computers to store unofficial content are strictly prohibited from creating and/or operating any form of online retail operation (e-commerce, shopping or auction sites, etc.).
Official content levels
Official University websites, unless noted above, must utilize the official University website template and follow all brand standards. The content must be presented using the website template option that corresponds to the content type (e.g., program and directory pages).
Level 1: University content
Level 1 (L1) content delivers the University’s core marketing messaging intended for external audiences, with the primary focus on furthering the University's strategic goals and objectives. L1 content is published on the University's main page, major audience and topic pages, select entity landing pages and brand/content elements persistent on all official University sites. IM and ITS are the primary entities responsible for L1 content production and delivery systems.
Level 2: Entity content
Level 2 (L2) content delivers the entity's marketing messaging intended for its key constituencies, with the primary focus on goals and objectives of the entity. L2 content is published on entity landing pages and any other designated pages. IM and ITS should be involved in the development process to ensure proper messaging and technical implementation. The entity is responsible for maintaining the quality of L2 content. Consultation with IM and ITS is strongly recommended for significant changes or updates to L2 content.
Level 3: Mission-critical content
Level 3 (L3) content delivers information critical for day-to-day business functions and continuing operation of the University. L3 content is intended for internal and external audiences and may be published on official public or private websites. Examples of L3 content include academic calendars, registration and financial information, important dates and deadlines, employee information, campus services and resources, student records and emergency communications. Responsibility for integrity, validity, availability, utility and accessibility of mission-critical content is shared between the administratively responsible entity, ITS and/or other service providers. To ensure proper implementation, advanced consultation with ITS is strongly recommended prior to significant upgrades or changes to L3 content delivery systems, including vendor-licensed or other third-party resources.
Level 4: Core content
Level 4 (L4) content delivers essential, descriptive information to support academic and administrative functions of the University or its entities. L4 content is published on official public websites and may include academic program information, course descriptions and major requirements, scholarships, service offerings and schedules, policies and procedures. The appropriate entity is responsible for L4 content development and maintenance.
Level 5: Directory information
Level 5 (L5) content delivers structured data describing physical and administrative organization of the University. L5 content may be presented as alphabetical or thematic indices or via search queries. L5 content may be accessed through public or private websites. Examples of L5 content include campus maps, building and room information, addresses and phone numbers, people and group search, web search, organizational charts, A-Z listings.
Level 6: Supplemental content
Level 6 (L6) content delivers secondary information that supports core content by providing additional descriptions and resources. L6 content may be published on official and unofficial public websites. Examples of L6 content include department histories, archives, missions and goals, newsletters, faculty profile pages, links of interest and registered student organization pages.
Social media content
Colleges, departments, offices, programs, employees, and students are encouraged to utilize social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to promote themselves and connect with prospective and current students, parents, alumni, donors, and the community more effectively. Any social media content created to represent an official entity of the University must use site options and settings most appropriate for business purposes. Public social media names and avatars must adhere to University graphic standards and include an image that can be identified with the account. Using an official brand element, if available, is preferred.
Advertising and Sponsorship
Paid advertising for the purpose of promoting non-university products or services is not allowed on official or unofficial University electronic communication channels.
Recognition of external sponsorship and underwriting is allowed in the form of logos and/or links to the external sponsor's home page. The logos and/or links must be displayed on the entity's secondary or lower pages. Payment may not be accepted specifically for the placement of sponsor logos and/or links on University electronic communication channels.
The University conveys large amounts of information to a wide range of audiences. Publishing content through electronic communications channels, such as the Web, is an effective way to reach many people at once, is easy to update, and extends the reach of the University to a wider audience.