Advocacy Tools: Making Use of Influence Maps

In the fall issue, we featured a wrap-up of University Press Week activity across the membership; in summer, discussed how the University of Arizona Press reaches their campus community; in spring, how the University Press of Mississippi created a press advocacy campaign aimed faculty and the reading public. Continuing the theme of press advocacy—that is, becoming more visible and vital to your home institution and other constituents—in this issue we take a closer look at presses who have made use of their Influence Maps as a successful promotional tool.

The concept of Influence Maps was conceived as part of the inaugural University Press Week in fall 2012. At that time, about forty members used the AAUP tool to create their own maps in time for UP Week (we featured a handful on the Digital Digest blog). The idea behind the maps was to provide a simple but striking visual on the reach of AAUP presses, and the Google Maps tool allowed each press to choose which elements to feature: subjects, authors, sales, and so on.

The Influence Maps proved popular for blogs and social media. But who was able to successfully use their map for advocacy, to enlighten key leadership?

The University of Pennsylvania Press produces, biennially, a global impact report for their provost, board of trustees, and faculty editorial board. The report addresses the press's (familiar) strategic goal to "enhance the prestige of the imprint and the visibility of the Press in the scholarly community worldwide, in the Penn community on and off campus, and in the region."

In measuring impact, the press estimates media exposure rates (from book sales to website analytics to reviews). "That exercise produces a kind of absolute number of individuals who have encountered our publications, directly or indirectly," explains director Eric Halpern.

For FY12, Penn Press calculated its media exposure to have reached more than 12.5 people. Their Influence Map helps attach a visual to what may seem, at first, to be a high number: it maps the press's numerous awards and accolades, authors, events, and translations across six continents (currently just for a single year).

Temple University Press has made similar use of their Influence Map. Like Halpern, director Alex Holzman has used it in presentations to university administration, faculty, and the press's editorial board. "I argued that nothing the university produced, whether athletic or academic, reached as many places on the globe and provided as much exposure as the Temple 'T' on the spine of our books or the home page of our ebooks." Temple's map visibly wraps the globe. Most notably, blue bubbles stretch across all of Africa and southeast Asia, showing the many dozens of countries where their titles are available.

Other tools can be useful, too: Temple created a document of recent awards to demonstrate the strength and breadth of their titles, and also show how the lists reflect the university's urban, diverse identity. Ultimately, Holzman says, both faculty and administration take pride in the press's achievements—and that's a good lead-in to have when negotiating subventions and funding.

As University Press Week evolves and grows, it's useful to know which elements are reaching beyond the scholarly publishing community and proving effective tools to communicate value to parent institutions, the broader academic community, to government and foundation supporters. For those who have yet to explore the Influence Maps, we encourage you to take a minute today to take pride in the real impact of scholarly publishing, and consider new ways to make your own press's impact known.

Regan Colestock
Communications Strategist, AAUP