Nikki Lebenson Angulo is a digital communications manager at the Institute of International Education (IIE), which is one of the largest and oldest global nonprofit organizations that administers and manages programs to support international exchange, like The Fulbright Program. They also work with governments around the world to promote the benefits of exchange.
Nikki’s position is critical in helping communicate the value of these programs with visual content that is published on the web, social media and through more traditional methods like newsletters.
Nikki has worked on both sides of their digital asset management (DAM) system. Before she worked in the communications department as the manager of the DAM system, she worked with it as a team member out in the field.
She remembers life before DAM literally as a box of CDs and DVDs being placed on her desk and hoping a stroke of luck would deliver her usable assets. She says that if you were not the person that actually took the photos, you’d have to go on a big manhunt to find what you were looking for.
Now that they have a DAM content marketing hub in place, and Nikki has organized it, they have the ability to pull very specific image searches by using the advanced search filters, which narrow down search results much in the same way as popular ecommerce sites like Amazon and eBay. The IIE would have never been able to find specific images like that as quickly and as easily if they were still rummaging through that old box of CDs.
The communications department at IIE is in the business of telling stories. The stories behind their images is what gives their visual content its power. That power is stored within the DAM system as metadata. They now run photo contests where alumni submit not only photos and videos of their time working with IIE, but they also submit their story.
Nikki maps their story to metadata fields within the DAM, which allows her and her team to instantly find impactful, relevant stories to share on the web, social media or through whatever channel they would like.
Nonprofit crowdsourcing and the DAM content marketing hub
The greatest value of their DAM, in terms of dollars, has been its ability to help IIE “crowdsource” visual content. As a nonprofit, they will never have the budget to send a professional photographer out into the field to capture every amazing story. But their DAM system has given them a tool to easily collect and capture photos and videos taken by their alumni. Nikki says, “I just would not be able to collect and manage the amount of digital assets that DAM allows me to manage as one person — all on my own — when working with so many people.”
Many organizations, like manufacturers, fill their digital asset management systems with imagery of their product. What’s easy to get lost, when talking about IIE’s DAM story, is the impact that their work has on human life and art. IIE has The Artist Protection Fund, where they use their DAM to collect and store digital artwork from artists whose lives are being threatened because of their work. They then remove the artist from their home country and place them at a host university in another country until the situation improves in their home country. Nikki is correct in saying that this is another amazing thing they have been able to do with their DAM content marketing hub.
IIE’s goal is teach people that international exchange inevitably makes the world a better, more peaceful place. You cannot teach this to people unless you have proof. DAM gives them the ability to say that I have images, videos, names, dates, places — and stories — that illustrate this phenomenon. It helps them collect, organize and distribute that proof. They have this huge cache of stories to explain why their work is important, and Nikki says, “I can’t even count the dollar value on that.”
Nikki values her partnership with Widen. She appreciates that when she comes to us with a new workflow idea, we don’t just robotically reply “that is not the function of a DAM system.” Widen employees take the time to listen to her idea and research possible solutions. We feel that she is one of the most inspiring and upbeat DAMsters we get the pleasure of working with, and we can’t wait to work on her next life-changing idea!