Campus Advocacy: Reaching Our University and Local Constituents

Through a variety of marketing efforts and partnerships, books published by the University of Arizona Press reach customers nationally and internationally, but they also reach another integral constituency: our campus community.

It is the community not only in the building where our offices are located in the University of Arizona Library, but the communities of staff and faculty at departments and organizations across the mall, in the student union, and spread around campus. We are successful because we do not take these customers for granted. We are constantly brainstorming, pitching, arranging, and publicizing ideas that highlight our mission and underscore our value in collaborative and creative ways.

But how do we let our constituents know about our many successes? How do we ensure that the campus community knows who we are and is invested in what we publish? We advocate for our books, our authors, and our mission in a number of ways. We can start by looking at things we've done (and do) to strengthen the bond with our colleagues at the University of Arizona Libraries. Until recently, the Press was housed off-campus and, with that physical separation, came a lack of collaboration. To remedy that, since our move to the Main Library in 2010, Press staff has made a concerted effort to engage with our library colleagues in a number of ways.

We hosted an ice cream social for the staff of the UA Libraries where each table (ice cream, toppings, utensils, etc.) corresponded with a Press department and our role in the formation and promotion of a book. The event was a tremendous success—more than 50 people attended, giving us a special, informal opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our two departments and to encourage camaraderie.

When our colleagues in Special Collections unveiled a new digital collection of news coverage documenting the voice of the Mexican and Mexican American community, the Press partnered with librarians and archivists and suggested a list of relevant titles that either touched on key themes from the collection or titles where authors had used collection as part of their scholarship. These Press titles were displayed at the opening night reception. The collection was intended for use by a wide range of researchers, including faculty, staff, and students from a broad array of perspectives and the opening reception was standing room only. Through this strategic partnership, we put ourselves in front of a key local audience in a very timely and appropriate way and enhanced the depth of Special Collections' programing.

Some planning and promotion is required to pull off the two examples mentioned above. It's important to note that, in addition to these marketing campaigns, we practice day-to-day micro-marketing in a variety of ways. We say hello in hallways. We invite our library colleagues to lunch. We volunteer on planning committees. While one may wonder as to the effectiveness of these activities, we've found that fostering a friendly environment has made our transition into the UA Library a smooth one and that many of our colleagues are actively interested in what we do and how we can work together. Our marketing efforts, however, go beyond the building where our offices are located, reaching departments and organizations all across campus.

For example, we created a Poem in Your Pocket Campaign in which we partnered with the UA BookStore and the UA Poetry Center to distribute a poem from one of our backlist titles, ultimately driving traffic to our website during National Poetry Month. We regularly work with the UA BookStore to create and implement subject-specific displays, including ones for Hispanic Heritage and Native American Heritage Months. Rather than falling on the shoulders of one single staff member, the marketing department works together and divides up the work as appropriate. The work is often quite minimal compared to the payoff. We design and provide signage, a book list, and other promotional materials—these activities require only a few hours of time—and, in return, the BookStore gives us front-of-store space in which to highlight our publishing program to students, faculty, and staff.

In the first half of 2013, University of Arizona Press authors garnered thirteen awards, including ones from the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies, the Forest History Society, and the Labriola Center. In that same time period, Press authors participated in upwards of 50 book events and Press staff members attended more than 15 scholarly conferences. Not a day goes by when we don't have noteworthy news to share. We utilize social media and our website to reach customers all over the world, but we continually strive to make sure we are also reaching our friends on campus and in the local community. They are key supporters and we cannot afford to take them for granted.

In addition to partnering with the campus community, we also serve on panels for the Tucson Festival of Books, which is co-sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and the University of Arizona. Attracting more than 100,000 attendees every year since its inception in 2009, the Festival of Books is an influential cultural activity in our city. We send a press representative to strategic planning meetings, which serves to increase our visibility among influential community leaders on campus and off.

Press advocacy is central to our marketing efforts. We are constantly brainstorming, revising, and implementing ideas. We look for simple, yet effective ways to get our logo out there, to make displays, to share talking points. For this year's University Press Week we'll be approaching different departments and schools (Mexican American Studies, Latin American Studies, and the School of Anthropology to name a few) about placement of title-specific displays in their buildings. We're excited about this new endeavor—it's yet another way to partner with the people whose research interests align with our own.

Email Holly with questions or for a chat or brainstorm about other new and innovative press promotion ideas.

Holly Schaffer
Publicity Manager, University of Arizona Press