Jillian Warren

Digital Project Management & Communications

Tag: NCAOC

An Invitation to the Governor’s Mansion

State Internship Reception at the Governor's Mansion

This summer, I have been fortunate to be a supervisor for the N.C. State Government Internship Program, run by the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office of the Department of Administration.

It’s a highly selective program – both for students and for government agencies. After an intense, months-long process of putting together internship proposals and interviewing candidates, we were matched with a terrific grad student (pictured with me, above) to help the content effort for our intranet redesign project. It turned out to be a great partnership, and I’m sad our intern’s tenure is coming to a close on Friday.

Invitation to the Executive Mansion

My formal invitation to the reception

The highlight of the internship program is a reception hosted by the governor at the Executive Mansion. This year, interns and supervisors were welcomed with cookies and cold drinks on a blistering hot day, and we were treated to an address by Governor Pat McCrory as he stood on the staircase of his home. He touched on his previous internship experience, the importance of public service, and a brief tour of the mansion.

Governor McCrory

The governor prepares to address the interns

Our intern definitely deserved such an honor for his hard work and achievements, and I’m sure the other interns are equally as deserving! It was a pleasure to take part in this year’s program – and a real treat to have my first visit to the Executive Mansion with the governor himself as the guide.

Check out the Governor’s Office’s coverage of the event:

NCJC Safety Newsletters

NCJC Fire Safety Newsletter 2013

Did you know that June is National Safety Month?

A few weeks ago, the N.C. Judicial Center (NCJC) Emergency Planning and Safety committees asked my help to disseminate information to NCJC staff to mark the occasion. I sat down with several managers on the committees to listen to their needs, and these main themes surfaced: fires, high-wind events (tornadoes and hurricanes), and domestic violence and health-related emergencies. We took those themes and sketched out a month-long communications plan:

  • Include general safety articles in the two June editions of the NCJC Building Bulletin (BB) newsletter
  • Produce three weekly “special editions” of the BB that would each cover one of these safety themes

There was a treasure trove of information on each of our three themes, but it was not very well-organized. I combed through notes and draft articles provided by committee members, old safety announcements from the BB, the NCJC Emergency Operations Procedures policy, and other HR documents and policies.NCJC High Wind Safety Newsletter For each edition, I organized my notes into a series of articles, which I then laid out in our standard HTML newsletter template. I created all the images and graphics, as well. All this, on top of my normal (overloaded) workload! Whew!

Check out the final products:

Fortunately, though, my hard work paid off as this series of safety-themed newsletters has been exceptionally well-received by committee members, executive managers, and staff. For example, a copy of the High Wind newsletter found its way to the Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court’s office, and a request was made to send future editions to members of her staff.

NCJC Safety Information page

The NCJC Safety Information webpage is accessible by mobile devices during an emergency event.

Also, as part of the publishing process, the committees wanted to include links to the newsletters from our static HTML intranet website (which is behind a firewall and only accessible from computers on the Judicial Branch network). That part was easy. However, they also requested that the newsletters be readily accessible by smartphones during an emergency – which posed a problem, as smartphones cannot access our intranet. So, I quickly created a basic HTML page outside our intranet, which includes links to the safety newsletters, policies, and other information that could be important during an event.

For more details on my newsletter work, check out:

Digital Communications Project Manager

I’ve spent the past 15 months working at the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts as an Information and Communications Specialist – but no more! That boring, straight-out-of-the-box job title hardly describes what I do for the organization. We just received word that HR has approved my title change: I am now the Digital Communications Project Manager.

Yes, it’s still a bit of a mouthful, but it gives a better picture of my job responsibilities and differentiates me from other Communications Office staff who have vastly different job descriptions. My primary job function is to project manage the redesigns of our websites, although I also do everything from newsletter editing to graphic design to public relations.

It’s nice to finally have a custom job title that really fits!

Email Newsletters

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The majority of my job responsibilities involve effectively communicating messages to internal, as opposed to external, audiences. When I’m not busy working on the redesign of the Judicial Branch’s employee intranet site, I’m usually working on one of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ employee newsletters. Check out examples of my newsletter work.


N.C. JUDICIAL CENTER BUILDING BULLETIN

I am the editor of the award-winning N.C. Judicial Center (NCJC) Building Bulletin, which reports on office news for the 400+ employees on our campus. The Building Bulletin has been my responsibility since June 2012, after a part-time resource dedicated to this newsletter left the organization. The newsletter has traditionally been sent monthly, but under my direction we’ve started sending updates at least twice each month. My role as editor is to generate content ideas, write and edit articles, take and edit photos, create graphics, and build the newsletter in HTML/CSS. We are currently in the process of implementing the GovDelivery email newsletter delivery service, but at this point everything is still done manually.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin January 2013 edition

The process

I start with a yearly editorial calendar Excel spreadsheet, where I store content ideas for each month’s edition. We have a handful of recurring features — for instance, our Meet Your Neighbor staff feature and monthly photography contest — and some seasonal topics that we cover annually. NCJC staff can submit articles or ideas, and I’m also constantly thinking of new content based on what’s happening around the office. Our main goal is to share information and get staff involved in the office community.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin October 2012 edition

Once I have an idea of the content, I start building the newsletter as a webpage using an HTML/CSS template. Our former graphic designer created the branded template, and I’ve built on it over the past several months. I write new articles, edit audience-submitted content, design graphics in Adobe Photoshop CS6, take new or edit existing photos, create any surveys — and then drop them into the HTML code. It’s a time-consuming process, but HTML/CSS gives me the freedom to tweak the layout to my exact specifications. One of our internal developers created a program that generates photo gallery webpages from a list of image files, so I will run that program as needed, as well.

Shortly before the publish date, I’ll send the finished newsletter file to my team members for review. Then, I’ll make any last-minute changes before uploading the newsletter files (the main HTML files as well as any images, PDFs, or photo galleries) to our FTP server. At this point, I check the newsletter URL in Internet Explorer, the official browser that all Judicial Branch employees use, for any strange behaviors. If everything looks good, I’ll send the newsletter webpage as an email via Outlook.

Once we get GovDelivery up and running, the production of the newsletter will be a much simpler process. I’ll still be tasked with producing the right articles, images, and graphics, but building and sending the newsletter will be a more automated process.

NCJC EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION COMMITTEE

N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee Newsletter March 2013As a member of the N.C. Judicial Center’s Employee Appreciation Committee (EAC), I help promote upcoming events and fundraisers — primarily through email newsletters and flyers — to the roughly 400 campus employees on an as-needed basis. The EAC newsletter currently follows the same production process as the NCJC Building Bulletin (outlined above), from which it also borrows its design template. I do create custom header banners for each issue, though.

INSIDE THE CHAMBERS

This newsletter, published weekly whenever the N.C. General Assembly is in session, provides relevant legislative updates to all 7,000+ employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch.

Inside the Chambers February 2013When Inside the Chambers launched during the 2012 legislative short session, our former graphic designer based the HTML template on that of the Building Bulletin, but with a customized header banner. The newsletter started out with weekly commentary, budget news, and the latest legislation updates from our Legal and Legislative Services Division — but, in 2013 it evolved into a dedicated vehicle for disseminating legislation updates.

This newsletter follows the same production process as the Building Bulletin, but it differs from the others in that I am not solely responsible for generating content. In this case, I’ve worked with our Legal team to define a standard process and schedule for submitting content so I can hit my publishing deadlines.


As you can see, a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into the creation of these newsletters. These are the three newsletters that I manage, but there are also others that I help edit or oversee each month. In addition to editing and production work, I’ve also worked with communications and technology staff to create guidelines and define procedures for Judicial Branch staff to follow when setting up additional newsletters. Newsletter work only comprises about 10-15% of my job, but it’s a chance to be creative, share interesting stories, and get others involved in company events and culture.

Make sure you check out the rest of my newsletter work.

Newsletters Archive

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ Communications Office is responsible for managing several email newslettersBuilding Bulletin February 2013 for the NCAOC and the N.C. Judicial Branch. Jillian Kuhn Warren oversees and edits many of these newsletters, spending roughly 15% of her workweek on them. Her three primary newsletters are listed below.

Currently, Jillian creates all content (copy, images, etc.), produces the newsletter as a webpage with HTML and CSS, uploads the newsletters to the web via FTP, and sends the newsletters via Outlook. Read more details in her Email Newsletters blog post. She has done extensive research and presented proposals on various email newsletter delivery services, and the NCAOC is in the process of implementing the GovDelivery system.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin

Jillian is the editor and primary contributor to this award-winning monthly newsletter for employees of the N.C. Judicial Center.

NCJC Building Bulletin September 2012

Before Jillian became editor, the Building Bulletin looked like this: May 2012. Multiple staff members, including one dedicated part-time employee, published one edition each month and often spent a late night at work prior to the publish date. Now, with Jillian as the sole editor, Building Bulletin publishes at least two editions per month and is always ready on time.


N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee

Krispy Kreme Fundraiser 2013Jillian is the editor of this periodic newsletter to inform N.C. Judicial Center employees of events held by the Employee Appreciation Committee.


N.C. Judicial Center SafetyNCJC High Wind Safety Newsletter

Jillian is the editor of these special-edition newsletters that recognize National Safety Month and provide relevant emergency information to N.C. Judicial Center staff on behalf of the Emergency Planning and Safety committees. Learn more through her NCJC Safety Newsletters blog post.


Inside the Chambers

Jillian is the production editor of this newsletter that provides weekly legislative updates to all employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch while the N.C. General Assembly is in session.


Praise for Jillian’s Newsletters

“Thank you for providing our employees so much information and helping to make this a fun place to work.” – an executive manager

“BB thanks for the article and thanks for being such a class act.” – a manager

“I thought today’s BB was quite good — a very nice presentation/blend of news, stuff and fluff.” – a coworker

Email Newsletter Wins State Government Communications Award

Honorable Mention in Publications: NCAGIO Excellence in Communication Awards 2012

On Friday, September 16, I won the Excellence in Communications Award from the North Carolina Association for Government Information Officers (NCAGIO), during a ceremony at the association’s annual seminar in Chapel Hill. My email newsletter, the N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin, took home Honorable Mention (third place) in the Publications Category.

The NCJC Building Bulletin is a monthly email newsletter for employees who work in the N.C. Judicial Center. I’ve been the editor since June.

NCJC Building Bulletin: October 2012

Check out the October issue of the NCJC Building Bulletin

For the awards, the judges reviewed the following three issues of the Building Bulletin:

I am responsible for all newsletter content. Staff members are encouraged to submit story ideas and drafts, but I also create original articles and images. Then, I put all the content into an HTML template, upload the files to an FTP server, and email the newsletter webpage via Outlook. We’re in the process of transitioning to an email newsletter software service that will eliminate all the hand-coding of HTML that I currently do each month.

I put a lot of hard work into the Building Bulletin, and I’m so proud that it was honored by the NCAGIO!

Advanced Photoshop Training

Training Class

I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop for about a decade now. I first remember using it in college for my film courses, and I’ve been using it personally and professionally ever since. However, I’ve never had any formal Photoshop training.

Well, it’s about time!

Currently, I’m halfway through the N.C. Office of State Personnel (OSP) Professional Skills Program’s Photoshop 2 course, and I’ll have earned my certificate from the program by the end of the week. So far, after the first day of class, I’ve actually learned a lot! Over the years I’ve developed my own workarounds and “hacks” to achieve certain effects, but the class has taught me easier and more efficient ways to get the same results. I’ve already been able to put my new skills into practice in my projects at work.

This is the second course I’ve taken through OSP. Earlier in the year, I arranged for a group of my coworkers and me to take their Web Writing and Search Engine Optimization course as a precursor to our web redesign content migration efforts. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to take more courses in the future!

What Do I Do at Work?

Columns on a courthouse

The number one question I receive about my “new” (4+ months now) job as an information and communications specialist is: what exactly do you do? Well, let me explain …

First of all, I work for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC), which is the administrative arm of the judicial branch of the state government. Here’s a very simplified sketch of it:

North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts chart

Simply put, the NCAOC provides administrative functions – including IT, HR, financial services, legal services, purchasing, and communications – for the entire Judicial Department. There are roughly 7,000 judicial branch employees statewide, including many elected officials.

The Communications Office of the NCAOC falls under the supervision of the NCAOC Director’s Office. We provide communications support to the entire Department – everything from press relations to publications to graphics support. We’re a small team, and I report directly to the Communications Director. My personal responsibilities include:

  • Websites: The NCAOC maintains an employees-only intranet and a public-facing website, both of which are extremely old and outdated. We’ve started the redesign process for the intranet, and I’m project managing the effort – organizing our internal teams, working with our third-party vendor, making decisions about the new site, planning content, and managing the eventual launch. Once the new sites are live, I’ll be the primary administrator. I am also charged with supervising updates to the existing sites for consistency, usability, style, etc. My supervisor calls me “the queen of the web.”
  • Newsletters: I oversee all NCAOC newsletters – doing everything from planning, reviewing, and editing content to setting up HTML and email templates.
  • Judicial Department Newsletter

    One of the N.C. Judicial Department’s email newsletters

  • Press relations: We’re the primary point of contact for the judicial branch, so we work directly with the media. We distribute public information and public records, write press releases, organize media events, and manage crises.
  • Publications: The Communications Office supports a variety of other publications, including our annual report. I do a lot of writing, editing, and styling of articles.
  • Branding: Our office is the guardian of the Judicial Department and NCAOC brands, having developed them and been responsible for maintaining brand standards statewide.
  • Graphics and images: We take photos and create graphics to support Department needs.
  • Personnel: Being a small department, we all pitch in to help with the hiring process. I’ve helped with job descriptions, candidate evaluations, interviewing, and hiring decisions.
  • All sorts of other odds and ends to support and improve communications across the Judicial Department.

That’s the overview of my day-to-day job responsibilities. Got any additional questions?

Career Update

I’ve been at the NCAOC for almost two months now, and the verdict is in… I love my new job and am incredibly happy I made this career change. I’m still doing quite a bit of web work and project management, but it’s all on internal projects. Plus, I’m doing a lot more writing, press, and broad communications work.

I definitely had some anxiety leading up to this transition, but I now know I made the right move!

A Career Crossroads

Crossroads

I’m hanging up my Web Project Manager hat.

Starting next week, I’m moving on to a new chapter of my professional life. I’m taking the brand new position of Communications Specialist for the North Carolina state sealNorth Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. This position is more in-line with my long-term career goals and passions of writing, marketing, communication, and media — plus, I’ll help manage their web properties. I’m excited to start making a difference by joining the “family business” of judicial system employment.

It’s always a tough choice to leave a good job and make a career leap of faith — but I’m ready to follow my passions and steer my career in their direction. I’ve had a great run as a Web Project Manager, and it’s certainly bittersweet to be leaving it behind. I still plan on keeping up with the latest web trends and dabbling in web work whenever possible, though!

I really can’t speak highly enough of my colleagues and clients at Viget. I actually thought about naming this post, “Why I’m leaving a good career and a good job at a good company with good coworkers who do good work on good projects for good clients” — but that was too long, of course. If you’re interested, I definitely recommend you check out Viget’s careers page.

Wish me luck on my new venture!

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