“Wow, I didn’t know that they sent those. I got mine with the PMI GC registration. It’s amazing (the book).”
That comment came from Mayte Mata-Sivera, a project manager in Utah, on the site for the Project Management Institute’s EXCEL award-winning 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book (pictured here) in early 2020. We talk about membership value being when you can go above and beyond the expected, and this book serves as an example of that. Other comments use the phrases “amazing gift,” “great souvenir,” “keep forever” and “get autographs.”
Think those folks will renew?
Association innovation can entail many things in 2021 like virtual shuttle bus rides or AI house tours or metrics that combine more ingredients that the potion from the witches of Macbeth. But we’ve now reached a point—especially during the pandemic—where print can become innovative in swag boxes or as membership bonuses. And despite the absurd amounts of money being offered for NFTs, books, programs and cutouts remain valued items for people. How many Zoom backgrounds do you see splashed with books all around?
Here are some recent examples of successful forays into print.
Bar keepsakes. The Federal Bar Association put together a most impressive, coffee-table book as the centerpiece of their centennial anniversary last year. Executive director Stacy King said that “attorneys love books. They really do. Since we’ve been doing all these Zoom calls, I never realized how many of my leadership has just books on books behind them. Everyone has that prestigious bookcase with all of their books. The other [reason] was that when the celebration was over, we really wanted to make sure we had something to celebrate… for years to come. We also wanted it as a marketing tool to raise our profile. So we are actually in the process right now where we’re sending the book to all three branches of government, all the chief federal judges, so that every federal courthouse has a copy.”
Family fare. “Hi, my name is Carissima Gori Uptmor and I’m a pediatric bilingual speech language pathologist who works in a school setting. Oftentimes, kids will ask me, ‘What do you do with the kids you work with?’” That’s the start of a video by the author of the EXCEL Award-winning The Everyday Adventures of Mrs. Dennis, Speech Language Pathologist on the American Speech-Language Hearing Association website. The story follows Mrs. Dennis “through her day of adventure and… all the different ways she helps students with communication disorders. You’ll see her in the classroom, in her therapy room, at the playground at recess, and the cafeteria!” Another book in their store is Everybody Needs a Turn: A Book for Brothers and Sisters of Children With Speech and Language Disorders.
Adding diversity. ACSD had two EXCEL award winners last year—Becoming the Educator They Need: Strategies, Mindsets, and Beliefs for Supporting Male Black and Latino Students; and Your Students, My Students, Our Students: Rethinking Equitable and Inclusive Classrooms. (Nice to see the EXCEL Award logo on these pages.) The author of the former book is Robert Jackson, who began his teaching career in the Indianapolis public schools more than 20 years ago—after being cut from the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The latter book was “written not for ‘special educators’ or ‘general educators’ but for all educators.”
To complement your virtual event. “I got my conference box this afternoon! Looking forward to the virtual fair in the next two days,” tweeted Joyce Tao last August. Just before that event—the 2020 AEJMC Conference—the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication sent a swag box with a printed program, a water bottle, a nametag, a pen and a few handouts for sponsorship opportunities. “In this virtual environment that we now live in, you lose that emotional connection to your attendees,” Amanda Caldwell, conference meetings manager, told Associations Now. “We felt that sending this box a day or two before the conference gave them that tangible thing to hold in their hand.” She also felt that it gave attendees an option for how to experience the event. “We [had] 15 concurrent sessions every 90 minutes for four days… When you have a printed program, you can lay out your day a little easier… I had a lady call me and say, ‘I didn’t get my book yet! I’ve gone to 30 conferences, and I need my book!’ Because she’s saved them all,” Caldwell said.
Fresh prints of Bay Area. And finally, here’s an example from a non-association—a transportation authority of all places. A touchless Short Story Dispenser has become popular in the Bay Area. Riders on BART, their transportation system, can access machines that print one-, three- and five-minute reads at three stations, with a fourth on the way. Created by Short Édition, a French publishing house, the dispenser has investors that include filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who had one installed in his Café Zoetrope (pictured here) in San Francisco’s North Beach. “[Our customers] are fascinated, trying to figure out how, and why, something can exist to give them a gift, a literary gift, without depositing a coin,” Coppola told BART. There’s that word “gift” again.