I just hung up a calendar in my office from a local Baltimore pet shelter. I am happy to support them and also happy, just for a moment, to see a clean calendar before me. As with all of you, the 2013 calendar will soon be filled with appointments, events, vacations and adventures that are hard to even imagine so early in the year. As I think back, some of the most rewarding work that we did with our higher ed clients in 2012 was helping them to strategically analyze their events calendars. It isn’t glamorous, but there is something magical about getting the right people in the room, rolling up sleeves and really looking at the year as a whole from the perspective of the audience. What path are we asking alumni to take? How often do they interact with the institution? Is there an exciting message that builds with each experience? Are we designing events with purpose—or just doing things we have always done?
The most interesting conversations happened when a cross-section of colleagues came together from development, alumni relations, communications and stewardship to really analyze what events were happening and why. In one case, a presidential trip was planned for Atlanta because alumni relations thought that the development team needed to go there, and development thought that alumni relations wanted to be there. It turned out that the real opportunity for that school in that semester was a presidential visit to Chicago. In another case, there was a marquee campus event, a business school event and a major sporting event all within two weeks—and all targeting the same VIPs who rarely have time to attend. And invariably at every school there is an event on the calendar that prompts everyone in the room to groan and say, “Why do we still do that?” Well, why do you?
It’s a fresh year, a fresh start and a fresh calendar. Reserve your 2013 time and resources for the events that will truly excite your audiences and make a difference for your institution.