The highlight of the weekend was when we got to brainstorm using sticky notes on the wall. Big sticky notes and little sticky notes. I love sticky notes.
After we had arranged all our sticky notes, we were asked to split ourselves into four groups – one in each corner of the room – depending on whether we wanted to help with “mission statement,” “fundraising,” “operations” or “communications and outreach.”“Ah!” I thought. “Communications. That’s right up my alley.”
I wound up standing in the corner by myself.
Turns out “communications and outreach” is a euphemism for “newsletter.” Nobody wanted to do the newsletter.
Except me. I always get stuck doing the newsletter.
The very first newsletter I did was at the very same university, back when I was a freshman. I did the monthly newsletter for my dorm. It was supposed to be funny and sarcastic, which was right up my alley. I printed it on a mimeograph machine. (Yeah, I was in college a long time ago.) I distributed it by taping a copy to the wall in each of the bathroom stalls.
A few years out of college, I did the in-house newsletter at the magazine I was working for.
A few years after that, I was recruited to do a church newsletter.
A few years after that, I got the call to do the newsletter for the parents’ association at my kids’ school.
Now, for the Honors College, one of the first acts of my communications committee-of-one has been to ban the use of the word “newsletter.”
I am already inundated with newsletters.
I get newsletters from church, from school, from missionary friends.
I get newsletters from my alma mater, plus a whole different set of newsletters from the journalism department of my alma mater.
I get newsletters from every charity we’ve ever donated to.
I get advertisements disguised as newsletters from the phone company, the satellite TV company and every big-box pharmacy in town.
I bought a Volkswagen, and now Volkswagen is e-mailing me a newsletter.
I get a newsletter from a journalism workshop I took more than 20 years ago.
I get a newsletter from a lunchbox company from which I purchased some little plastic storage containers more than five years ago.
I get a newsletter from our farmers’ co-op.
I get a newsletter from my accountant.
I get a newsletter from my carpet cleaners.
I read maybe four of these.
Maybe it is time to give up on the concept of “newsletter.”
Here are the first two items on my proposed communications strategy for the Honors College:
1. Set up an alumni Facebook page.
2. Be done with it.