Case StudiesLeeds Beckett University

How Leeds Beckett University use Shorthand to find new ways to showcase research & reports

Back in 2014 Leeds Beckett University set out with a new digital marketing strategy, to put storytelling front and centre in how they shared news on activities, research and reports.

Educational and research organisations often have a fantastic resource of high-quality data, but like many face the challenge of how to turn that into a rich online narrative, with often limited development resource for special projects.

So the timing was spot on when, armed with their new digital marketing strategy, and the impending deadline for their annual review for the academic year, Leeds Beckett discovered Shorthand.

A selection of sections from Leeds Beckett University's stories

The team used compelling autoplay video to invite the reader in, and used clear visual markers to offer an easy-to-navigate structure.

And unlike the PDFs of previous years, this time they were able to gather more data on how people engaged with the review. And the numbers didn't disappoint.

As well as it being “really positively received” internally, the team recorded a “vastly improved” open rate, and also found it was being re-shared significantly more. Dwell time on the page itself was also strong.

Since then Leeds Beckett has branched out in its use of Shorthand to transform its online marketing, from diving into areas of research to offering a visually-rich way to outline the Student Charter.

“With much of our news content being accessed online, we can no longer just rely on the traditional press release format. Using Shorthand enables us to showcase stories in a more stimulating way.”

Mark Dorey

Mark Dorey, external relations manager at Leeds Beckett, said the ease of use to create these experiences has not only inspired new stories to tell, but has also changed the way they would tell stories otherwise.

Their recent ‘Research Selfie’ campaign, for example, was a story that would previously have been published via their standard web template. But using Shorthand made it easier to bring together elements from across the web.

“The simplicity of [Shorthand] and ease of embedding content and adding text around it, meant that it actually was a better solution, and easier solution for us. And visually it looked better than it would have looked in our CMS.

“With much of our news content being accessed online, we can no longer just rely on the traditional press release format. Using Shorthand enables us to showcase stories in a more stimulating way.”

“Having something that’s visually arresting to start with is a good hook to get people into something they might not have an immediate interest in.”

Mark Dorey

They have also experimented with much more image-led narratives, illustrated in their approach in ‘Our year at a glance’, where a look back at 2015 was built up over a series of full-screen photos, one per month of the year. The text was short & snappy, referencing the achievement and linking out to more detail elsewhere on the Leeds Beckett website.

But in particular, Mark is excited about the opportunities the tool offers to tell deeper, and richer stories around research, and invite in new audiences.

“Having something that’s visually arresting to start with is a good hook to get people into something they might not have an immediate interest in.”

And the strategy is to continue experimenting.

“It still feels like we are only dipping our toes in the water of what’s possible using the platform and we are really excited to continue to innovate and create even richer and compelling content.”