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Configuring News at Pearson

Posted by england_k Champion Jun 29, 2015

Firstly let me set the scene, Neo is Pearson’s global community, we have 40,000+ users, our community is celebrating 5 years later this year. We’ve been through 2 upgrades and we’re about to migrate to the Cloud. During the 5.0 to 7.0 upgrade we reduced our customisations dramatically and will lose very little when we migrate to the cloud. Our homepage is very simple. We use an all activity widget within the centre and above this and down the right column we use a combination of html, formatted text widgets and other OOTB widgets. It feels out of date, it doesn’t feel very dynamic and we’re very ready for a change.


I was alarmed by some of the negativity in regard to Jive News and after printing all the conversations off to read on my commute I chose to join some of Kathryn’s live sessions to understand more. During one of these conversations I flagged the biggest issue I could see with News is how it had been communicated. When we launch new features within our community we always find a use case to demo the feature with, this means we can give a really clear example of how this would work. This was missing from the Jive launch of News for me so I offered to be a use case.


I’m hoping my next few blog posts will kick off some lively debate about News and we can all help each other get the best out what I believe to be an amazing feature. I plan to walk you through Pearson’s thinking about News as we prepare for the upgrade, our go live and share how News is landing within our community and beyond.


Part 1 - Testing our thinking


When Kathryn met at our Pearson offices in April, the conversation was very fruitful because I completely changed my thinking about how News would work. My first thought was to immediately associate a stream to each of my business units:


  1. 1.    Pearson News
  2. 2.    Executive Blogs - Each board blog
  3. 3.    Employee Engagement
  4. 4.    Business Division (a, b, c, d, e, f are rules within the stream)
  5. a.    School
  6. b.    Higher Education
  7. c.    Professional
  8. d.    North America
  9. e.    Growth
  10. f.     Core
  11. 5.    Human Resources
  12. 6.    Technology
  13. 7.    Efficacy - ??
  14. 8.    Product News - ??
  15. 9.    Global Initiative XX i.e.
  16. 10.  Global Initiative XX


I started to do this in my head and then asked  “can I have more than 10 streams”. Kathryn was patient, she questioned me and tried to dig deep into my use case, she really wanted to understand why I needed or wanted so many streams, I thought it was fairly obvious I would apply streams to each of our business units. I could hand over the maintenance of the stream to the comms lead and everyone would be happy.


WRONG - this is the first myth about News, allocating a stream to each of your business units is the not going to give you the results you are hoping for. Neither will telling your comms teams they can have streams for all their content and they can push information at people without needing to use email.


The first thing to remember is the news streams you are creating are the PUSH piece each of your users are still also going to have the content in their news they have chosen to see their PULL. The purpose of news (at least for our organisation) is to PUSH important communications so they surface for people in their feed  so they are encouraged to follow this content so it becomes content they PULL. And PUSH doesn’t automatically mean email, it means creating a dynamic and interesting news page. A news page that is in equal parts relevant and engaging.


Scenario A: The following business units have their own stream:


Corporate Comms


Business Unit X

Business Unit Y


Each colleague logs in, in the morning and their homepage will be full of communications from each of these areas, the news feed is no better than the all activity feed you will see everything. By definition every important message becomes noise and the really critical content can’t cut through.


Scenario B: You create the following streams:


Pearson News

  • Assign our CEO blog
  • Our Pearson News Blog


Business Unit News

  • Business Unit X Blog
  • Business Unit X Leader's Blog
  • Option to add business unit X’s private space (note doing this could make news noisy this would need to be considered on a case by case basis)
  • Business Unit Y Blog
  • Business Unit Y Leader’s Blog


This scenario does rely on being able to create rules within the Business Unit News feed, in this example we would use the profile field “Business Unit” to be able to assign what each colleague should see.

We could then replicate the business unit news feed by geography so that we could assign news based on the location field in their profile. Note at this point in the conversation I had totally forgotten that this is the PUSH piece, colleagues who’ve chosen to follow BU X or its leader will still get the message in their feed too because they’ve chosen to see it. But all those colleagues who don’t follow their L1 or L2 are now seeing this content front and centre.


In Feb 2015 we had a really important global event, it was supported by a group filled with pre-event content  and activity, if we had created scenario B we could have added the group to Pearson News or we could have created a temporary stream to add content related to this event.


My next question is where does this leave global initiatives or the need to know content, Kathryn and I talked about this at great length, in theory the easy option would be to hand over a stream to HR and Technology, maybe another one to Finance. If you do this I would predict that your news feed will then be flooded with semi-important content. For Pearson we have not completely decided what to do. When we upgrade to the Cloud a feature i’m looking forward to is the one where I can share a piece of content with multiple places. I wondered if this would be able to help drive the news stream. Currently any content that is put in a place will be part of the stream. If you have content in “Kim’s Blog” and you also shared it with “Kathryn’s Blog” and Kathryn's blog was part of the stream, it wouldn’t share in news. The primary place you put the content is what dictates its assignment to a news stream.


For now I want to think about this a little more, for a number of reasons. When we upgrade in August we won’t be using all of the new features all at once. Google integration being an example of something we will work through. So perhaps launching with two streams for a period of time might be the way to go until we get comfortable with how it all works. I welcome other community managers thoughts examples and ideas.


Upgrade 53 days and counting, until next time…