Developing a section for the Armed Forces

I spent much of June and July 2017 developing a new section on the Edinburgh Napier website covering the work it is doing with the Armed Forces. Having signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2016, it committed to ensuring those coming from Service, or currently serving, are not disadvantaged in terms of access to education and work within the organisation.

The University is developing education pathways for those leaving the Armed Forces, particularly those from lower ranks, and are reviewing HR policies to support Reservists.It is also developing a mentorship programme to help veterans with the wider transition to civilian life.

The University was presented with the bronze award from the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme in June 2016 in recognition of this work.

Need for a website

To promote this work my department was approached to add information on the Edinburgh Napier website. This task required:

  1. a review of existing content that could be repurposed
  2. the identification of opportunities to develop new engaging content

The website is built using the Sitecore Content Management System (CMS). Information is presented using content modules such as main body text, featured spotlights and image spotlights.

Screenshot of Armed Forces section
Example of Sitecore content modules: video and image spotlight, main body text and image spotlight

Modules are added to pages and can be reordered as required. Modules can also be added to multiple pages.

Existing content repurposed

News items

Our Communications team produced a couple of news stories relating to the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant which was a logical place to begin telling the story. An interview with Dr Sandra Cairncross, Assistant Principal at Edinburgh Napier and Project Sponsor, already existed and this was placed front and centre on the page alongside a link to the news coverage of the bronze award.

PTSD event

A special event looking at the whole area of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was held to coincide with the launch of a new research project into trauma care by Professor Thanos Karatzias. Guest speakers included Jamie Sanderson and Jason Fox, co-founders of the charity Rock2Recovery (Jason is also well known for his work on SAS: Who Dares Wins).

The event featured a lecture and a panel discussion, and a video of the lecture is included on the page.

PTSD event module
PTSD event module

War Poets collection

The University’s Craiglockhart campus has a historical connection with the military. During the First World War it was used as a hospital for shell shocked officers. It is also the place where poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met. Today it is the home of the War Poets Collection and a link to that site is included.

Link to War Poets section
Link to War Poets section

New content developed

Page copy

Written content for the page was compiled from press releases and other documents relating to the Armed Forces Covenant commitments. Reference to Thanos’s research and that of Dr Mandy Winterton, who focuses much of her work on military populations, was also added.

Video case studies

In line with the content marketing approach the Marketing & Communications team has adopted, I decided to produce a range of video case studies. I was pointed in the direction of staff and students who are, or have been, associated with the military.

Fiona Forrest-Anderson – an HR Partner, current Reservist and former Royal Military Police Officer.

Duncan Ferguson – a Security Supervisor who served as a Royal Marine Commando for 12 years.

Gary Seath – a Community & Partnership Officer and founder of the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund.

Bob Wright – a School Support Manager and former Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force (this video will be shot in August 2017).

I also had the opportunity to interview Jamie Sanderson of Rock2Recovery. He and Duncan both served in 45 Commando Royal Marines.

Housing the section

With its range of themes, including education pathways and recruitment of those leaving Service, there were options in terms of where to house the information. As this will form part of a future widening access section we decided to house it under Study with us.

A link was placed on the landing page of that section. With the way that content modules work in Sitecore it will also be added to the About us and job vacancies sections of the website in due course.

Link to Armed Forces section on Study with us page
Link to Armed Forces section on Study with us page

Summary

I’ve considered it a privilege to be involved with this project. I’ve been able to work with and interview a number of interesting and inspiring people. It’s also been good to be involved in the production of original content for the website, including video, as I’ve primarily been involved with data analysis in recent years.

I’m excited to see how the project develops over the coming months and am enthusiastic about continuing my role in it.

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