Chapter/Conference Communication

(Much of this information was taken from the Creating Professional Communication Pieces Summer Institute Workshop, 2005)

AAUP Field Staff have varied responsibilities, but almost all of our responsibilities rely on transmitting information, and therefore communication skills are essential in many of our daily tasks. As information providers, we need to be able to understand and utilize the communication styles that are best suited to our audience and to the type of information that we want to convey. As information receivers and processors, we need to be attentive, perceptive listeners.

WEBSITES

A website can be a powerful and convenient communications tool, and it is a relatively cheap one.

Logistics

Planning. Before you begin designing a website, decide what you want your website to accomplish. Some examples are:

  • A location for all chapter or conference announcements
  • Highlight the accomplishments of the chapter/conference
  • Recruit new members
  • Offer existing members a way to communicate
  • Resource center of faculty policy issues

Design. Creating a simple website is fairly easy to do with Web authoring programs such as Dreamweaver and Frontpage. These programs allow you to design the page in a way that will be familiar to users of word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. If chapter leadership or staff does not have time to learn, you may consider recruiting a member who is familiar with web design or hiring a student to create and maintain your website.

Hosting. It is generally not a good idea to have your website on your university’s server as they ultimately control the site. Web space is cheap and easy to purchase.

Content

The site needs to be organized into logical paths, so that people who are looking for information on a topic will be able to figure out
how to find it. At minimum, the website should describe your organization; link to National AAUP; provide contact information; announce upcoming meetings and events; and provide an e-mail contract for the person managing the website. Be sure to regularly update the content.

In addition to these minimum requirements, you can also use your website to:

  • Offer news about AAUP events and concerns on your campus
  • Provide orientation materials to new members
  • Allow communication between the members
    • Bulletin Boards
    • Polls
    • Web-based e-mail
    • Registration forms

NEWSLETTERS

Logistics

Schedule. Decide when you want members to receive their newsletter (the “drop date”). Good times may be early in the fall or spring semesters, shortly before an event to publicize it, at regular intervals, or at certain stages in contract negotiations.

Count back from the drop date adding time for distribution, printing, proofreading, layout, editing, and writing the articles. Make sure
everyone involved understands the schedules and then sticks to it.

Workload distribution. It may be tempting to write the newsletter alone, but for workload and organization-building, it may be helpful to include others. Inviting faculty from all your constituencies will help to ensure that your newsletter is relevant to, and fails to offend, as many people as possible. Take advantage of the diverse talents of your members.

Printing and production. Printing can be done on a copier (8”x11” and stapled; 11”x17” and folded) or at a local printer. Printed newsletters often look more professional but are more expensive and take longer to produce. In addition, the publication can be modified and sent to the members through email. It is important to determine how to best reach your members and what is in your budget.

Content

The topics covered depends on your audience and yourobjective. Will it be sent to AAUP members only? Will it go faculty on other campuses? To administrators? To legislators?

Story slate. Foreach issue, plan a list of stories, ads, and other content, taking into account upcoming and recent events, news relevant to your members, and the interests ofyour different constituencies. Detailed documents such as new university policies may be best summed up in the newsletter and then posted in their entirety on your website.

Recurring items. Recurring items lend consistency to the newsletter and make planning easier. Examples: masthead; the table of contents; a schedule of upcoming events; a letter from the chapter/conference president.

Stories from the national office. With the exception of Academe articles, you do not need permission to reprint material from the national
AAUP website, as long as you attribute it.

FLYERS

When designing flyers advertising an event or trying to get out the vote, highlight the reason people should attend the event or care about your cause, not just the date and time of your meeting. Make a big headline and some subheads that stand out so people who skim will take away some points.Other information can be smaller for those interested enough to read the details. DO NOT PACK THE PAGE WITH TEXT. Photos or clip art help draw in readers.

If you are sending flyers in electronic form, you may want to remove the clip art so the messages do not take up too much space in member
mailboxes, but you can still create an eye-catching flyer with the use of color and text size. You should still allow for some white space in the message.

CHAPTER MEETINGS

It is helpful to have an occasional chapter meeting so there is a dialogue between the rank and file membership and chapter leaders. It is
especially helpful to have a face-to-face meeting if presenting a complicatedissue such as contract negotiations, so that members can ask questions.

DISCUSSION GROUPS/FORUMS

Discussion groups may be an effective way to announce chapter/conference news and receive member feedback. Discussion groups can be
hosted easily and cheaply through many different sites such as Google, Yahoo,and Lefora.

FACEBOOK/TWITTER

Facebook and Twitter are not necessary, but if you find that many of your members use these tools, it may be an effective way to relay information. It is also an easy way to provide a voice for rank and file members if you have a static website. If your website is more dynamic, you may be ableto link it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that a message is posted every time you update your website.