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VTx Guide

VTx is the hub for digital Virginia Tech storytelling and the university’s news and record. Readers can dive deep into written and visual stories of academics, campus experience, culture, impact, and research to get a sense of how Hokies are a force for positive change in the world. University colleges and units can tap into their area-specific tags to create syndicated newsfeeds for their own websites and promotions.

The information below outlines how submitted content is published on VTx, along with best practices for that content and who you can ask if you need help.

General information

Ensemble Content Management System

VTx is built in Ensemble CMS, using the article page template. If your story is being told with a written article, you need to gain access to that space to build the story in the CMS by emailing vtnews@vt.edu. A web admin will give you access to the VTx space to begin submitting articles.

Tags

The VTx website uses tags to feature content, trigger effects, and manage content relationships. See the list of current tags and request new tags.

Category tags

Every piece of content published on VTx must have only one appropriate category assigned. See the descriptions below to determine in which category your story best fits.

  • Academics: Stories related to colleges, departments, centers, and topics, such as data, music, and experiential learning.
  • Campus experience: Glimpses of life for students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and friends in Blacksburg, Roanoke, D.C. area, and the commonwealth; athletics and alumni events; administrative news; employee info; and what it's like to be on our campuses.
  • Culture: Service and Ut Prosim; arts, inclusion and diversity, history and traditions, and the corps; what it's like to be a part of Hokie Nation.  
  • Impact: Impact on Virginia and the world as a land-grant institution; stories on philanthropy, outreach, engagement, economic development, partnerships, and alumni impacting their communities.
  • Research: News from the colleges and research institutes; areas of specialty (drones, brain research, cybersecurity) where the university is leading the way; research in general; and solving complex problems.

Other tags

Pieces of content may have additional tags that relate to the topic of your story. Consult the tags list first before requesting a new tag.

How a story gets published in VTx

Step 1

Someone has an idea for a story and communicates that to a communications professional, such as their relevant college/unit communications team, a member of the Communications and Marketing writing team or visual team, etc. Stories may be envisioned as written articles, visual presentations, and/or interactive engagement opportunities.

BEFORE PROCEEDING: Communicators must brainstorm how a story will be deployed to their intended audiences. They should then engage subject-matter expert partners across campus to ensure the story can be told in the most successful way and missed opportunities are minimized. Use communications and project planning templates to help get the brainstorming started.

  • Example scenario: A faculty member shares a story idea with their college communications team about a research project their students are engaging in. The team members gather information about the project and determine that a video would be the best way to tell the story with an accompanying written piece that could be sent to relevant media outlets. They also think that the story would work well to engage alumni in their next annual giving campaign. At this point, a story lead is designated, and that person creates a communications plan that captures the desired audience, assets, and deployment channels. From that list, they can then brainstorm which campus partners can be engaged to assess collaboration needs. They then contact the University Relations visual team to ask for their expertise on whether a video would be the best way to tell the story and/or if personnel resources are available to assist in video production. They also discuss possible alumni outreach opportunities with the Advancement communications team.

Step 2

Story authors build articles in CMS in the appropriate VTx folder; articles should include appropriate image(s), embedded video(s), notes (i.e. embargo information), related links, and VTx tags, as discovered during the story planning process. Once the articles are built, authors should request them to be published, sending it to the publishing team.

Step 3

VTx publishers on the digital communications team do the following:

  • Review the publishing request queue and add the articles to the editorial planning calendar if they are not already there 
  • Proofread and edit, as needed; contact authors if any information is missing or unclear; and add or change VTx tags and images or videos, if necessary.
  • Queue up finalized articles for publishing; if only a link is needed (i.e. A research story needs to go out for EurekAlert distribution), they send it to the author directly.

Step 4

  • Various platform publishers (social media, media relations, etc.) distribute VTx content across owned, paid, and earned channels, digital and print, dependent on the needs of those platforms and their respective audiences.
  • Email publishers build daily, student, and monthly emails with the articles published on VTx, as outlined in the editorial calendar, in Adobe Campaign; email proofs are sent to stakeholders for review and feedback; and the emails are scheduled and deployed to predetermined audiences.

Editorial best practices for publishing VTx articles and notices

  1. Use the internal notes field when building your CMS article to include information on which media list you'd like to use when the Media Relations team promotes your story. If you don't have a list in mind, include media outlets you'd like to be pitched, and the Media Relations team will help figure out the best list. Email mediarelations-g@vt.edu for questions.
  2. There are two daily emails that send Monday through Friday, one for employees and one for the public. Additionally, there are two emails sent to students a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The publishing date for stories will be at least one day prior to them appearing in one of the emails unless otherwise noted in a communications plan and the internal notes (i.e. for media embargos, advanced notices, etc.).
    • Add your story to the editorial calendar for the date and version you wish for the story to be included. Do not add your story to the lead slot before discussing placement with a member of the VTx publishing team.
    • If the story will be pitched to the media, you will want to have an available contact the day the story is sent to the media. Do not request a story to go out on a day you will be on planned leave without having a backup media contact in your college or unit. 
    • If you have information that could be best used as a Campus Notice (strictly informational, time-bound, event-based, etc.) and you have author permissions in the VTx CMS, build it inside the "Notices" folder the same way you'd build an article. Do this instead of submitting the Campus Notice form, as it will expedite the process. Non-CMS users should use the form. 
    • Campus Notices should be added to the editorial calendar in the section marked for notices. Ensure you're adding it to the date where you wish your notice to start running, and it doesn't need to be included on every day the notice is active — the VTx publishing team will make the determination about how often it should appear in the email. 

Using visual assets in VTx articles

Photos

  1. To upload an image, click My Assets in the left menu from the My Sites interface. For reference: A basic user primer of how to navigate Ensemble CMS
  2. Choose the VTx folder.
  3. Choose Articles > Year > Month for the asset location
  4. Once in the folder, click Upload Assets and navigate to the location where the assets you want to upload are located. You can also drag and drop.
  5. Images don’t have to be optimized or sized to particular dimensions. We do ask, however, that the images be cropped to an aspect ratio of 2:3 for consistency. Try to keep the file size below 8 MB, however.
  6. Give a title and ALT text to your image by accessing the properties. Include caption and photo credit information, following the style found in Using Photography.
  7. Within an article, the image needs to be added in two locations. First, it must be placed within the image component on the article page. In edit mode, click the Assets tab and drag and drop the image from the library to the image component box. When the box turns blue, click off the mouse or trackpad to place your image. Add a caption and ALT text by clicking on the wrench icon that appears when the component is clicked.
  8. The image also needs to be placed within the page properties. In the editor mode, click on the Page Information icon (it looks like a waffle iron) and choose Open Properties. Click on the Page Image tab. Click and drag the image from the Assets tab and place it over the “Upload Assets (or Drag from Assets)” button that appears beneath the article image icon. DO NOT place the image over the icon itself. If the Upload Assets button turns to “Clear” then you know the image is in place. Click the checkmark icon in the upper right of the properties window to save changes and close the properties window.

For more information about photography at Virginia Tech, including how to find and submit photos to the photo library, visit the Using Photography.

Videos

Videos are an integral part of Virginia Tech stories, as they can offer different perspectives and create moods to enhance the storytelling. Videos used in VTx articles must first be uploaded to video.vt.edu and then embedded within a VTx article using the Media-External component.