Campus communicators and members of the AU community are encouraged to pitch ideas for content that will be promoted on AU’s homepage, www.american.edu. Read the guidelines below, then submit your idea via the Story Pitch Submission Form.
American.edu is American University’s official website. The content featured in the feature slider on the home page seeks to tell AU’s story by promoting content that focuses mainly on academics and research, university-level initiatives, student/campus life, alumni, and athletics.
Who Visits American.edu?
Our readers range from high school students to CEOs to government officials. They are intelligent, passionate, active citizens who see Washington, D.C. as the ideal learning environment. They want to consume content about AU that is timely, interesting, engaging, and pride-building.
Our main audiences are:
- Prospective and current students
- Prospective and current donors
- Prospective and current partners
- Members of the news media
What is Feature Content?
Feature content is high quality content that maps to any or several of the 10 points from AU’s Strategic Plan.
Content that focuses on or includes the following subjects are especially encouraged:
- Impactful Research (mostly faculty, but can also be student research)
- Sciences at AU
- Academics—this can include everything from a unique course to a new, boundary-breaking degree program
- Interesting, impressive, or emotionally touching student stories
Content can be in different formats, so long as the content has a URL. Content promoted in the home page feature slider usually falls into one of these categories:
- News stories written by University Communication’s Online Writer
- Stories from American magazine
- Web stories written by campus communicators/their staffs
- YouTube videos
- Web pages
How are Feature Content Decisions Made?
University Communications uses American University’s Strategic Plan, the news cycle, and admissions and branding priorities as guides.
When considering content ideas, University Communications considers the following questions:
- Is this a high priority for the university or one of its schools?
- Would this content interest most of our audience members, or is its focus so narrow that it would interest only a small segment of our audience?
- Is it timely? Does it tie-into or relate to something big happening at AU (ex: Welcome Week, Commencement, Family and Alumni Weekend, a VIP visit, Finals, etc.) or does it tie in to or relate to something big happening outside of AU that still impacts/interests the AU community (ex: Presidential elections, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, etc.)
- Is this something that would build pride among the AU Community?
- Is this something that presents the opportunity for engaging visuals (photos and videos)?
- Is this something that helps distinguish AU from its competitors?
- Has the Online Writer recently written content about a similar or relevant topic?
What Elements Make for Good Feature Content?
- Timeliness/Relevance: Is this related to something going on right now?
- The Big Picture: While these features focus on AU, we want to give a broader perspective when possible. So if we are focusing on research, for example, we’ll want to spell out what the findings mean for the greater good.
- People: The people at AU, and/or the people who have been impacted will bring these stories to life. In other words, we want to find people who are on the front lines of the topic we are writing about and let them tell their stories.
- Experts: Experts lend features authority and credibility, and AU has plenty of them. Our stories will include interviews with faculty and researchers who have studied the subject.
- Facts and Stats: Features also need plenty of facts and statistics to them up. Some evidence can be anecdotal and given through a good quote. But some content requires hard, tangible data.