Extension Is Unpopular—On the Internet, What to Do About It.

Resisted Change, chalk line of bodyIn Heidi Radar’s article Extension Is Unpopular—On the Internet, she points out that finding Extension articles on the Internet is difficult. Topical information is often drowned out by commercial sites. While I agree with most of her recommendations, I do not agree with item 7 “Encourage staff, faculty, and volunteers to write fewer articles, and ones of higher quality, that reflect current interests of clients.” I believe we should be promoting everything from radio spots to video clips as well as our articles, bulletins, and journal articles. We should be using every avenue to get the word out; we need to be found in the major search engines such as Google, Youtube, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as places such as Scribd, Facebook, and our Websites.

In a previous post, Using technology to help get the word out, I talked about using technology to help with distribution. In this post, I would like to briefly discuss reuse of content.

Recently, I discovered that five of University of Wyoming Extension educators are putting out regular radio spots. Radio spots are a great way to send out information; however, the spots are typically only a one time shot at your audience. If a member of your audience failed to tune in that day, they missed the content. Radio spots can be reused and distributed in the form of podcasts. Podcasts can then be redistributed to a wider audience, not only podcast subscribers, your Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes followers. Right now, we are redistributing our podcasts to 1,613 followers of our Facebook fan page and assorted Twitter accounts.

I believe all Extension educators should have a blog. It can be an individual blog or a community blog where county educators post to a common blog with different categories. Educators could also band together by initiative team or in a statewide collective. A blog is an excellent opportunity to reuse articles submitted to local papers or distribute thoughts otherwise not picked up by a paper. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2011 Annual Report on American Journalism more people are getting their news online compared to declining traditional sources.

If we (Extension) want to continue to exist, we need continue to be relevant. We are relevant only in the public’s eye. However, if our content is not found and used, we can easily be replaced by others who are doing a better job getting there message out.

With the number of Extension educators we have nationwide, we should have little trouble having our content appear higher in the search engines. First we must do a better job of making our content available. Radio spots should be turned into podcasts, and articles should be posted to blogs.

These are just my thoughts, what do you think?

2 thoughts on “Extension Is Unpopular—On the Internet, What to Do About It.

  • December 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    There were a lot of inaccuracies in the cited article. You would hope the JOE had better review. To conclude that Extension can’t be found on the Internet based on the results of two search terms is laughable, and shows a general misunderstanding of how search even works. Extension content actually shows-up pretty high in most searches– especially that content which is more niche.

    • January 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

      I agree with you that with good searching skills, extension articles will bubble to the top. However, I am also receiving lots of feedback that extension articles are hard to find. I attribute that to weak search skills. Nonetheless, I believe we need to do a better job getting our content distributed. We have a lot of content that has been used once to a small audience, and it can be redistributed to a larger audience. More exposure does not hurt extension.

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