Marketing, Apps, and Everything Digital: AAUP Residency Reports

This summer and fall saw another successful round of AAUP member residencies. For the 2014 cycle of residencies, eight member staff were awarded grants to travel to another press and develop skills and knowledge for up to a week. The first half of the grantees have completed their trips and reported back to the AAUP central office.

Ami Reitmeier, Assistant Sales and Inventory Manager at University of Illinois Press, traveled from Champaign to Cambridge to spend a week with MIT Press staff. While Reitmeier learned about everything sales-and-marketing from video trailers to print-on-demand to text adoption, it was the last that she found most relevant to her current projects at Illinois. Reitmeier expanded her knowledge of organizing email promotions, creating direct mail lists, and optimizing the process for requesting desk and exam copies. "A portion of what I learned from Michelle [Pullano] is already being implemented within UIP," Reitmeier reports. "This experience was an excellent way for me to formulate a plan of action in the area of course adoption for my home press. [Illinois] never has had a person on staff that concentrates on this area specifically, so visiting a Press that has done so has proven to be invaluable to me and UIP."

Marketing for specific lists drew Nebraska's Emily Giller to Indiana University Press. Giller, Exhibits Coordinator and Media Planner, had marketing questions about Indiana's Jewish and Holocaust studies lists; Nebraska had entered into a publishing partnership with the Jewish Publication Society in 2011. Giller learned how the press sets goals, uses various strategies and tactics to meet them, and what day-to-day business looks like. That included event-based e-marketing campaigns, bulking up mailing lists, sharing relevant publicity contacts, choosing conferences for exhibits, and more. Following the recent theme of collaboration among the AAUP community, Giller writes that "one of the biggest things I took away from this residency program was the idea that IUP and UNP can work more closely together to help promote our titles ... I intend on keeping in contact with the IUP marketing team to further our relationship with them, partner with them for future programs, and of course, to continue to learn from one another."

Giller's fellow Nebraskan, Publicity Manager Rosemary Vestal, traveled to the University of Chicago Press on the heels of a promotion. Vestal was initially interested in Chicago's social media strategy, and expanded her focus to include awards and publicity. At Chicago, she was interested in the composition of the large press's publicity team, with responsibility for clients and authors divided between the press's "promotion managers." "The PM position is centered on creativity and communication, not necessarily public relations and marketing ... At Nebraska, because of the size of our staff, this strategy couldn't work, but it's impressive to learn and understand how a big operation like Chicago can handle such a large workload efficiently," Vestal notes. She was also impressed with the personal "voice" behind much of Chicago's online marketing

Whitney Johnson made a similar observation about her time with Chicago: "While most presses keep their main feed strictly to information about current or upcoming publications and information about the industry (all very important and absolutely necessary), Chicago balances this with more personal, engaging posts ... it humanizes the feed." Johnson is Assistant Editor at Columbia University Press, and went to Chicago with an open mind and the broad goal of "engaging the digital"—that is, discuss the spectrum of digital projects that presses are experimenting with: what works, what doesn't, and what needs more development. As a whole, Johnson realized that most of these experiments never reach sustainability, and that e-editions (enhanced, shortened, app-ed) are still largely supplemental to print. On the other hand, she sees the process—including constant questions and dialogue—as an important component of serving the academy and truly finding the best ways to share knowledge.

Lila Sanchez is one of those experimenters, jumping into app development with the help of the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Sanchez is Graphic Designer at the University of New Mexico Press, and had the opportunity to meet with several of the MNHS Press staff, with Robin Moir acting as mentor-in-chief. Sanchez discussed development strategy, platforms, potential usage, and more. "The most beneficial information that will help me going forward is regarding the Adobe licensing options, capabilities of the software, and the app analytics of published material ... I am very grateful to the folks at MNHS Press who were welcoming and open to share such valuable information," Sanchez reports.


Regan Colestock
Communications Strategist