The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

#DCSF17 Day 4 | Instead of promised gold, we found a cockroach and a white alligator

Our last day of the study tour started with another trip to Berkeley where we attended a podcast workshop. The program said: podcasts are the new “gold” in digital communications. Our instructor Laura Klivans used a different expression. She gave us a historical wrap-up on radio shows and said that audio actually is the “cockroach” of communications. It was declared dead many times e.g. during the rise of TV or the invention of the internet but it is still around and it is even thriving. Storytelling by voice is a very intimate way of communications that is around since humans talk to each other. Laura gave us an overview of the different forms of popular podcasts that are around, classifying them in the categories of most to least produced. Examples for highly produced podcasts are e.g. the fictional story Homecoming or the show Radio Lab. A good example for a shorter podcast that also needs a decent amount of time producing is the series Bay Curious. On the other end of the spectrum you have shows where people just meet and talk to each other. A famous example in the United States is “WTF” with Jim Jefferies. But we did not only talk about podcasts we also produced a short one, a bathroom story. That was quite fun.

UC Berkley’s Advanced Media Institute

Waiting for the podcast workshop to start.


My learnings from the morning: podcasts are an interesting way of engaging people, and at least in the US it is more than a niche product. But a well produced podcast is not done fast and easy. I would even say it is more work than a video because you only rely on sound. And a good equipment is key.

Podcast Equipment


In the afternoon, we went to the California Academy of Sciences. It is beautifully located in the Golden Gate Park and is an impressive Science and Natural History Museum as well as a research institution.

We met with Amie Wong, Cal Academy’s Senior Digital Marketing Manager.  She gave us a very detailed insight in their social media strategy. They do not only deal with the official Cal Academy accounts but also have established sub brands like nightlife, their theme-oriented Thursday evening event for adults, or Big Picture, a photo contest. In total, they manage twenty channels. Amie told us that for monitoring they only concentrate on engagement, in her opinion reach is too superficial. She also explained us how they try to involve influencers, especially on Instagram. It was interesting to hear, that they have great success with it and that influencers which are usually paid by companies, are willing to work with them for free. Of course you have to offer them a special experience, e.g. a behind the scenes tour. In addition, Amie pointed out that they do not put any stress on them to post something about the event. So far, they have done two Instameets and during these two hours events they had nine times the engagement they usually have in a month!

So my main learnings from the afternoon: Focus on engagement and get to know your local influencers. Thanks Amie for the insightful talk!

Then finally, we reached the climax of the last day: the meeting with Claude the white alligator. We are sure he noticed us because he blinked at least twice :). I’d say a podcast about Claude will definitely find its audience.

Claude the star of Cal Academy

The study tour week ended with a fabulous dinner in Stones Throw and I am sure, I also speak for my study tour colleagues when I  shout out a big thank you to Julia and Perrine for organising the week. Especially a heartfelt thank you to Julia for being such a good “mom” to us.

#DCSF17 Day 3 │ Busy Day, Delicious Food

On day 3 of our digital campus tour, we had a busy schedule and a very diversified program. To be able to be attentive in every meeting, we started by rising our blood sugar level with some delicious donuts in the Mission district, which was a great idea.

The delicious snack was followed by a very insightful visit to one of San Franciscos many startups: Tint. Edward Hu, account executive of Tint, showed us their cozy office and explained their product. Tint is very easy to use and there are many ways for customization, which makes the tool very attractive to use. The presentation made each one of us think about how we could somehow use the tool for our school in the future.

From left to right: Julia (Swissnex), Fabienne (ZHAW), Nicole (ETH), Anne (HES-SO), Sandro (ZHAW), Edward (Tint)

One of the creative workplaces at Tint.

Afterwards, we continued our journey to San Bruno to visit Youtube. We were welcomed by David Fuchs, a ETH alumni who has worked at Youtube for several years. He showed us every one of the three buildings in San Bruno. The offices are spacious and all look different, employees get free food, there’s a gym and a swimming pool to use and there are screens with the latest youtube-videos everywhere. We saw some “Youtubers” being recorded for a show and talked with David about what he thinks will be the next big thing: the importance of watching TV as we know it now will decrease and the importance of subscribing only for the shows that one wants to see will increase.

Strenghtened by a delicious Burrito-lunch, we then went back to the office of Swissnex, where Perrine Huber, head of marketing and communications, talked about what the most important steps of the communication of a (big) event are. The question about why the event exists is probably the most important one to answer, before being able to plan the communication of a event. Furthermore, one should always think about what content there is to include in any communication, which audience should be addressed, how this should be done and what the best timing for any sort of communication is.

Our last meeting of the day was at the UC Hastings College of the Law, where we were given a very detailed and insightful overview about how they use their social media channels. One of their campaigns shows, that even the topic of a law school can be communicated in a emotional way: This is Why We Work for Justice

Fabienne Haltinner, Project Manager Online Communications
Zurich Universities of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), School of Social Work

#DCSF17 Day 2 │ From Stanford to Facebook

On day 2 of our Digital Campus Study Tour we had a chance to visit two very well known but also completely different institutions. In the morning we visited Stanford University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities. We met with Amy Adams, Head of Science Communications and Dylan Conn, Senior Digital Media Associate to get some insights into Stanford’s digital communication and to learn about the challenges of coordinating all communication activities on the campus.

As Stanford is one of the most well-known universities in the United States of America, finding an audience and accumulating fans and followers seems to be no issue at all. However not every scientific publication is a good story. Therefore finding the good stories and editing scientific publications is essential.

After our meeting with Amy Adams and Dylan Conn, we got to enjoy a tour around the campus. One of the Stanford students introduced us to Stanford’s history as well as their study programs.

In the afternoon we went to visit a completely different kind of campus, the Facebook campus in Menlo Park. Mircea Grecu, an ETH Zurich alumni and now working as an engineer for Facebook was kind enough to show us around Facebook’s fascinating site. The now called «old» campus is home to several office buildings as well as restaurants, a gym, an arcade, a gift shop and many other things. Facebook wants to make sure their employees have everything they need on site and most of it is for free. Mircea told us that all the people at Facebook are extremely motivated to advance the company and therefore willing to put in the necessary effort. Since Facebook has been growing at a rapid pace the company is constantly enlarging their facilities which shows in the «new» campus that is being built right across the highway. For us this was a wonderful opportunity to get a glance at a very unique and progressive corporate culture.

Sandro Schönbächler, Community- and Online Manager at ZHAW School of Management and Law

#DCSF17 | It’s all about Story telling!


On the first day of our Digital Campus Study tour we discovered the importance of storytelling. A good story will hook the reader and make him curious to know the end. It’s pretty obvious to say that but it’s definitely difficult when it comes to complicated subject such as science. To illustrate and show you this point, I’ll tell you the story of this first day :).

Exploratorium, or how to make science understandable for everyone?

In the morning we visited the Exploratorium which is a museum dedicated to making science understandable for everyone (from kids to grown-ups). Quite a big challenge, though, and we realised that storytelling is definitely the key to interest your target and interact with them. During this first visit, I began adding Stories on our Instagram channel and asked myself “how can I tell a good story to our followers?”. The answer came to me when I saw Pluto’s grave. Science can/must be fun so let’s use this exhibition and have some fun. It worked at the time because even with the time difference (it was 6 pm in Switzerland), I got 30 more views on the story in 10 min and at the current time (it’s 3 am in Switzerland) we have now 80 views and 2 comments.

UC Berkeley, meeting with awesome storytellers

We then went to UC Berkeley in the afternoon and first met Keith McAleer, Communication director for Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. He told us about an awesome storyteller who is named Schéhérazade, she managed to stay alive during 1001 nights just with a very good story she wouldn’t finish. Do you now see the importance of a good story telling ? We do (and we stayed alive too :)). This process is  definitely the same for science or every other topic. You must determine what you you want to share and what you want to tell to your reader.

We then met Kathrin Bader, Director of Social media for UC Berkeley. She showed us 8 things we did’n’t know about UC Berkeley (a good catch to begin a story). I personally was amazed by how she kept me interested all the way, first with the title of her presentation and second by the next 8 points about UC Berkeley. It was very instructive. To end this article I’ll borrow one of the eight points of Kathrin’s presentation, “Cuteness rocks”, with this UC Berkeley squirrel I found on the Instagram page @squirrelsofberkeley. I hope you enjoyed reading this short story of our first day #DCSF17.

Anne Dörig, Communication Specialist
HES-SO, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland