Building the BOCES Brand
Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services
For Brian Howard, Director of Communications at Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), the SWBOCES website needs to be more than simply functional. It needs to help build the brand and tell the SWBOCES story. “A lot of people have a limited notion of what a BOCES does,” he explains. “Our websites allow us to showcase the breadth of services we provide to our districts. We need a really strong web presence to get the word out.”
In New York State, the BOCES provide an array of services to local districts including career training, special education services, adult education, interscholastic athletics, professional development and support for curricular programs and educational technology. SWBOCES needed a web presence that provided a unified brand among all of their service centers while allowing each center to have a lot of flexibility in setting up their own web presence. With eChalk, each service center has its own website linked under the SWBOCES umbrella.
Brian and Technology Director Victor Pineiro work together to maintain the central BOCES website and works with the website managers of each service center to ensure that content is kept fresh and up-to-date. The new eChalk CMS has made this easier, even for staff members with little or no technical experience. “eChalk websites are very easy. You don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about how to do things, so you can concentrate on the information you want to convey instead,” he says.
Here’s how SWBOCES is using eChalk:
- Each of the seven service centers maintains their own website, which highlights the services they provide for districts, success stories, news and updates.
- Brian uses newsfeeds to push content out from the central BOCES website to the individual service centers. Creative use of Groups allows him to customize newsfeeds for individual service centers. This eliminates dual work in maintaining the newsfeeds for each center.
- They use embedded Google polls to support two-way communication with local districts.
- SWBOCES went through a long rollout period to get buy-in from staff, discuss branding and content strategy, and get everyone trained. The BOCES used this period to ensure that websites followed BOCES branding standards and best practices in navigation, design and content management before launching the sites for the public.