Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hubbub recap continued

Continuing my recap of our first Hubbub experience, I'm next going to share my thoughts on publicity.

Number one, as I mentioned in my earlier post, work with the campus entity that plans the official freshman welcome events. In my case, not only did I get to develop a new relationship with some terrific people on campus, we also got loads of publicity for our event. We were featured on the official schedule of events, and we were specifically mentioned in a number of orientation sessions. The K Week staff used the approach: "Want to bellydance in the library? Then go to the Hubbub party!" Of course they mentioned the free pizza and games and other activities for the shimmy-shy, but the bellydancing really seemed to stick with students. There is no way I could have generated this kind of buzz without the help of the K Week staff.

Since our target audience was freshman students (though any students were welcome, of course), we really couldn't do much advertising on campus until three days before the event. Move-in day was a Friday and our event was on Monday. On that Friday though, we hung a bunch of flyers in student hangouts on campus. The residence halls were covered thankfully as I attended the resident advisor resource fair earlier that week and distributed loads of flyers to the RAs. Many of the RAs were excited about the event (perhaps even a little jealous that we didn't do something like this their freshman year) and I invited them all and encouraged them to invite their advisees.

I also relied on our Hub partners to help spread the word. I really can't say enough nice things about my friends in campus IT. I know I'm lucky in that regard as the library-IT relationship at other schools isn't necessarily as good. The IT folks mentioned the Hubbub at all their orientation events and distributed flyers in the student computing labs. They were also a big help at the actual event (more on that in the future "staffing" post).

As far as electronic means of publicity, we did the standard press release which was posted to the main UK website. Though this probably didn't catch the attention of many students, perhaps it made faculty and staff more aware of the event. Along the same lines, we posted a library news item as well. I worked with our official UK PR contact to distribute the press release. We did in fact have several photographers covering the event as a result of this.

The student newspaper didn't cover the Hubbub, but to my delight, they featured us in a special insert guide for students the following week. When we opened the Hub in the middle of the spring semester, they wrote a very nice piece about the Hub. I wish we'd gotten a little Hubbub mention, but there are so many events going on that week, and the other coverage they've done has been good so I can't complain.

I had used Facebook before for advertising and decided to use it again for the Hubbub. Like any of our other methods though, it was difficult to judge how effective it was. We used Facebook in several ways:

Facebook flyer. This is probably the most common way campus groups advertise on Facebook. Buy a flyer and Facebook displays it to your audience. I'd bought a flyer last year and since then I was pleased to see that you could further tailor your audience. Since I only ran the ad Sat-Mon and didn't buy very many flyers, it was pretty inexpensive.

Facebook event. I created an event in Facebook and then invited my student and UK campus friends, had them invite their friends, and so on. I got a few questions from students as a result, so it was worth doing. In the end, this reached over a hundred people and didn't cost anything.

Facebook groups. K Week had an official group with several hundred student members so I posted to its wall a couple of times. I also posted to the wall of several unofficial student groups (and happened to answer a few questions about the semester schedule, designated safety paths on campus, library hours, campus mailing addresses). This is a little tricky as I imagine it is easy to cross the line from "helpful librarian" to "nosy old person lurking on Facebook." I didn't do very much of this but what little I did seemed appreciated. At least no one wrote anything nasty about me or told me to go away.

What would I have done differently? Next time I'd like to look into those campus "yard signs." Those are a real attention getter in my opinion, but I haven't investigated the cost or if approval is needed (likely) in order to display them on university lawns.

In the next post I'll talk about staffing. The team that makes it all happen is the most important part of throwing an event like this.

UPDATE: Hubbub recap part three

(Photos by Alice Wasielewski)

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