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Preparing for Media Interviews

In an interview, do you try to just think quickly to answer the reporter’s questions? Instead, learn how to plan ahead on issues and use your key messages to get across your important points.

In the Jan. 18, 2017, Ag Comm webinar, Kelli Armbruster and Becky Koch shared how to prepare for an interview and tips for the interview itself. The concepts apply to print, radio and TV interviews – and connecting with mass media and the public via social media.

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Your Email Signature Matters

Dancing unicorns. Crazy colors. Funky fonts. Witty quotes. I’ve seen all of these things in email signatures. While it might be tempting to want to jazz up your signature to show off your personality, it’s important to follow the NDSU email signature standards.

When email signatures were originally developed, they were an easy way for people to include their name and contact information at the end of an email. Since then, they’ve evolved into electronic business cards.

If your email signature is consistent and looks professional it will convey that our organization is consistent and professional. Not only will your signature communicate your professionalism to anyone who receives it, but it will also provide instant brand recognition for NDSU.

Much of the work we do focuses on building connections, some of them through social media platforms. If you’d like to add appropriate social media icons to your email signature, Bob Bertsch has developed a tutorial.

If you have any questions about creating your email signature please let me know.

Kelli Armbruster, Information Specialist, 701-231-6136

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Preparing for the Upcoming Office 365 Migration

Our NDSU email service is scheduled to be migrated to the service run by the North Dakota University System (NDUS) during spring break. This migration also will involve other items hosted online, including SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and Skype for Business.

While it is still not known to what extent these services will be affected, now would be a good time to take a proactive approach to the upcoming migration. Performing small, preventative tasks, such as documenting who you've shared your SharePoint and OneDrive folders with, will go a long way in helping you to recreate your shares quickly once the migration is over. Also, writing down a list of the various groups and people in your Skype for Business contacts will provide a comprehensive reference you can utilize to recreate the list once your account has been moved.

Checking Your Share Settings

To see who you are sharing any particular SharePoint or OneDrive folder with, right click on the folder name and click on "Share." A new window like the one below will appear. Click on the "Shared with" option to see a list of everyone you have granted access to.


 , IT Systems Specialist

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Built-in Shortened URL for Ag CMS Homepages

Ag Communication has registered the Internet domain,, to provide a shorter URL for connect people with your website.

Every website in the Ag Content Management System has been setup to be accessible through this shorter web address, so a primary URL like can also be reached from

The shortened URLs only work for the homepage of your website. It will not work for any other pages on your site. So will work, but will not.

Try it with your website. If your website is in Ag CMS, replace "" in yur URL with "" This shortened URL is great for sharing in print, in presentation, on the radio or anywhere you need a web address that's shorter and easier to remember.

If you have questions, please let me know.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: Punctuating Bulleted Items

Listing information in a bulleted format is an effective way of drawing attention to it. But writers often have trouble punctuating bulleted lists.

Here’s an easy rule to remember: The only time these lists need punctuation is if the bulleted items are complete sentences. Otherwise, they do not need any punctuation. That means no commas, semicolons or even a period at the end of the last item on the list.

For example:

Pasture rental rates vary based on:

  • Forage quantity and quality
  • Forage species and composition
  • Condition of the fencing
  • Water quality and availability

Consider these holiday eating strategies to avoid weight gain:

  • Serve items on a side table instead of setting a large buffet table.
  • Use smaller serving spoons.
  • Cut sweet goodies in smaller pieces, or make the cookies small.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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People Who Fill Out Google Forms Can Now Get an Emailed Summary

Google Forms has finally made it easy for people who fill out a form to get an emailed copy of their responses or what they call a "response receipt". It used to be you had to add some code, now they make it easy by just checking a few boxes. I've worked with many who have requested this feature. Check out my 2:08 how-to here:

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Current IT Updates

Here is some recent IT activity you may want to be aware of:

NDSU PEATS Anti-Phishing Team

Previously we had talked about the NDSU PEATS Anti-Phishing team and its efforts to educate people at NDSU about the dangers of phishing email messages.  Part of this education is a two phase project where fake phishing messages are sent out to better understand the impact of phishing at NDSU.

Recently, the first phase of email testing in the College of Ag, Extension and Experiment Station was successfully completed.  On average, only .93% of our folks fell for the email while the other NDSU test groups had an average of 3.88%.  Great job everyone!

Here are the full results; success is defined as the number of people that click on the link in the fake email message.

GroupEmails SentSuccessPercentage
College of Agriculture 233 0 0%
Extension 370 0 0%
AES Experiment Station 508 3 .59%
NCI 11 0 0%
Graduate Students 189 6 3.17%
Undergrads 310 6 1.94%

Office 365 Migration

In case you haven't already heard, the Office 365 migration has been temporarily delayed until the spring of 2017.  There has been no further word on whether data will be automatically transferred from OneDrive or SharePoint accounts.  For the latest information, please visit the NDSU Email and Office 365 Migration page.

Official Email addresses

Ag Comm Computer Services now has the email address for sending out announcements.  Similar in use to the address, this should help identify legitimate messages from ACCS.

ACCS Support Guidelines

ACCS has now posted their Computer Support Guidelines online.  These guidelines are not only meant to clarify support but also provide a list of available support services offered by ACCS.


Jerry Ranum, IT Systems Specialist  |    701-231-8685 Option 1

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What is a Quarantined Email?

You're probably familiar with Microsoft Outlook's Clutter and Junk folders for email. Emails can also be "Quarantined" as a warning.


Clutter helps keep less important messages out of your inbox by moving them to the Clutter folder. If you find the message in Clutter to be valuable, move it to your inbox. If not, delete it. Clutter “learns” by you actions of deleting or moving messages.


Most of us are know what junk email is. NDSU ITS and Microsoft have filters in place that can flag junk mail and put it in that folder. Some legitimate messages might end up in your Junk folder, so it’s always a good idea to move it to the inbox or right click on it and not block the sender or domain the message comes from. 

NDSU ITS has standardized junk mail filtering set up on the back end but do you know you can customize filters on your junk mail? Learn how to block particular messages or or prevent trusted senders from being blocked.


Sometimes junk mail goes into a Quarantine state because the message is spam-ish or potentially malicious. Like Junk mail, you can choose to move Quarantined messages to your inbox or delete it. After two weeks, the quarantined messages will expire and not be accessible.

The Quarantine warning message comes from with the subject line "Spam Notification" (like in the screen grab below) and tells you the email is in the Junk folder.


spam notification screenshot


Read about Spam vs. Junk vs. Quarantined emails here

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403
, IT Systems Specialist, 701-231-6395

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You Headline Matters. Tips for Getting It Right

Last week I came across this excellent post on writing headlines for online content.

Image credit: Headline by Gracey,

Kurt Gessler, deputy editor for digital news at the Chicago Tribune, shared "18 Tips For Writing Engaging Headlines and 27 Makeovers That Saved Stories From Extinction." Gessler points out that newspapers often fail to write engaging headlines for online articles because they still think of stories in the context of a printed page, where a headline works in conjunction with the full story and maybe even a pullquote, graphic or photo. Online, Gessler says, the product is "unbundled." Online content needs to be marketed story by story, often only through the headline.

I think we often make a similar mistake. We think we are marketing our entire blog or website, but most people will not be exposed to a piece of our content in that context. Instead they will likely see our headline shared on social media, in an email or in their feed reader. We should be focusing on writing really good headlines; not in an attempt to game Google search results or to trick people with clickbait, but in an effort to get people to really engage with our content.

Here are a few of Gessler's headline writing tips that really stood out to me.

Be clear and focused, first and foremost.

Gessler says there is nothing more important than clarity in a headline. The headline should tell the reader "why they should care or how this affects his or her life." Sometimes that means stating what we might think is obvious.

Don't get too cute or punny.

As I said before, I like sounding clever, so I've written a few of these headlines. Gessler points out all the assumptions you are making when you write a cute or punny headline:

  • You assume everyone gets the joke
  • You assume there are no language barriers
  • You assume your pun hasn't been used many times before
  • You assume there is nothing more interesting in your content

Focus on impact and implications

I tried my hand at this in the headline for this article. Gessler says the key is to tell the reader why the story is important to them. He offers some suggested structures, including:

  • This is what XXX means to you
  • Experts offer advice on XXX
  • XXX is a problem. This is the solution

After reading Gessler's advice, I'm going to take more time to write my headlines. I often dash them off as an afterthought, but they really do matter. People are exposed to a lot of online information every day. More times than not, a person's decision whether to read a piece or not depends on the headline.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: What Time is It, Anyway?

Time is an important part of what we write. That’s especially true in news releases, brochures, fliers and other material for a specific event. Those all include the time an event begins, and often list starting times for sessions within that event.

Here’s the style we follow for writing times:

  • Use figures except for noon and midnight; spelling out noon and midnight avoids confusion.
  • Do not put :00 after the hour.
  • Do use a colon to separate the hour from minutes.
  • Lowercase a.m. or p.m. Make sure to put periods after the a, p and m.

For example: “The workshop starts at 8 a.m. Lunch will be served at noon. The featured speaker will give a presentation at 2:30 p.m.”

Here are some other tips:

  • When listing a time range and both times are in the morning, afternoon or evening, you need to use an a.m. or p.m. only once. For instance: “The workshop runs from 8 to 11 a.m.” However: “The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Avoid redundancies such as 10 a.m. in the morning or 10 p.m. Monday night.
  • North Dakota is in two time zones, Central and Mountain. In material listing events in both time zones, indicate which are on Mountain time. For example: “The workshop will be held in Dickinson at 10 a.m. Mountain time.” or “The workshop will be held in Dickinson at 10 a.m. MST.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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