5. Night For the Rising Stars Benefit

I’ve been hard at work recently working on the graphic for  AASPA’s Annual Benefit concert, “Night for the Rising Stars”.

I’m finally done with it, and want to comment on what I’ve learned.  The process has been interesting in several regards.

Firstly: the amount of time the was spent “perfecting” minor details of the poster.  I was surprised by the number of meetings we held in determining the look of the graphic.  We spent a significant amount of time debating colors and readability, as well as overall look, and the wording and spacing of the poster’s text.  While I understand the need to make graphics appear professional and well-constructed, I felt that there were other projects I could have moved on to that might have been more helpful to the organization.

I think that the finished product meets the expectations and desires of the organization, and so I’m happy, but I feel it took longer than necessary to accomplish the task.  Whether that is my own lack of expertise at play is something I’m wondering about.  Hopefully working on a project like this will improve my efficiency in the future.

Secondly: AASPA purchased the rights to the base graphic via Photostock images. I thought this was interesting because I know the NPO is struggling with budgeting.  I wonder about the investment.  Hopefully it wasn’t that much of a burden on AASPA’s finances.  While the base graphic is nice, it might be budget saving in the future to create art from scratch.  This would also allow for more freedom in design. But then again, the org would also need someone on staff with the creative resources available to create graphic art.

Thirdly:  While the Org has posted the graphic on its webpage and social media pages, the effort of the design is largely geared towards old-fashioned media efforts–such as paper posters and printed/mailed paper invitations.  As a child of the media age, this seems like a strange idea to me.  For my generation, the most successful means of event promotion are via Facebook and other social media pages.  Not snail mail, and not even (to the larger extent) E-newsletters.

I guess this just further demonstrates that AASPA’s audience demographic is an older generation, but as I know the org is hoping to reach out more to youth and young adults, I think it would be very smart of them to alter their means of event promotion, focusing on making the event accessible to their younger members.  I think this would be rewarding to them overall because one of the best ways to involve parents and senior members is to get youth excited about AASPA and the events that it puts on.

Is that just me? What do you think?

This is the final draft for the "Night for the Rising Stars" poster

This is the final draft for the “Night for the Rising Stars” poster

4. Activity Update

Hello, blog!  Sorry for going silent for a moment there; life’s been busy.

You’ll be happy to know though that life at the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts is going well.  Like I discussed in my last post, the AA-SPA has been hard at work revamping their website–trying to make their pages cleaner and more organized.

I have been given nearly-free range on moving pages and content around. We ended up modifying my original “New Student/Returning Student” plan, and using the tabs “Search by Age” and “Search by Category” instead.

We thought that providing potential students with two different search methods would allow webpage visitors to browse in the way that made the most sense to them. I have since been creating new content for added pages, and editing content on the pages that were already up.

On top of editing the Classes & Programs tabs, we’ve also streamlined the Registration process by compiling all of the registration info hidden around the site, and by steering new students away from the admittedly confusing Activenet website that the AA-SPA uses.  Since new students are required to talk to the office anyway in order to be matched with an instructor, we decided that it would be best to just coax new students away from online registration altogether.

We’ve had some issues in figuring out how to make certain adjustments to the QLTD website template that the AA-SPA uses.  We met with a Q representative though over Spring Break, and got most of the troubles that we were having worked out (the Calendar now, for example, is beautiful, and a million times easier to read than it was before!).

The one other project that the organization has me working on right now is the drafting of a graphic for their upcoming fundraising event in May.  I didn’t think at the beginning of the semester that my work with the AA-SPA would give me an excuse to play around on Photoshop, but I’ve actually been given a really great opportunity to work with graphic design!

The Night of the Rising Stars Annual Gala is just beginning to get into the full swing of planning and organization, and so I haven’t been asked to do that much yet regarding marketing via social media, and I’m curious to see if that changes as the event looms closer on the horizon.

In general I’ve noticed that Web 2.0, like Facebook and Twitter are not very high priorities for the AA-SPA yet.  They have both types of accounts, but they don’t update either page very often, and when they do, the posts don’t vary much in terms of content.

As the new media intern, I guess it’s probably my job to be more vocal about the usefulness of these webpages to the organization’s overall success.  As I continue to find my bearings within the organization, I will try to push new ideas about posts.

Maybe when the AA-SPA’s main website is no longer a concern, I will be able to convince my supervisor to let me work more exclusively on the group’s social media pages; I do think they need a considerable amount of attention.

3. Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts

This is the week!

Tuesday I officially start at the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, and I’m very excited.

What I learned during my interview process is that my main task for the local music NPO will be the revamping of their website.  I love this because we were just accessing their site the other day in class, and so I have a lot of suggestions from all of you that I’ll be able to add to my own.

I don’t know the finer details, or limitations of my assignment yet, but my biggest hope for the project is to be able add a “New Students” section to the page–which will allow people with no prior knowledge of musical study to locate the courses that interest them or their children.

Website coding is probably what I’m most excited to learn about during this internship, so I’m glad that will be my focus.  I think being versed in html will be a huge boon in my future career choices.  I’ve never done html coding before, so I’m a little nervous, but I believe this will be a great opportunity to learn, and I’m hoping to be able to apply more of what we cover in class to my work.

Aside from the site revamp, I will also be working on creating content for the AASPA’s e-newsletter.  They are also planning a large fundraiser in May, and I believe I will be involved with that process.  I have a feeling that it might become a focal point for this blog–the second half of the semester especially.

Unfortunately, that’s all I have to report at the moment.  I’m looking forward to finding out more about my projects this Tuesday.  I’ll keep you all posted on my progress!


2. McLaughlin Response

For class this past week we read “The Changing Nature of the Community”, and discussed it.  This was mentioned by someone else in class, but I also want to say that this article–“new” as it is–seemed outdated to me.  Non-Profit noob that I am, I haven’t previously been following the adaptations of Non-Profit marketing strategies to computer-based media. But as we begin to look at the content of these readings, I am beginning to wonder how there are even studies or articles to discuss.  The expectations of people regarding technology are advancing so quickly, it’s a little scary.

For example, McLaughlin’s article says at one point that 75% of NPO’s plan increase their use of email to communicate with constituents, while only 34% of NPO’s plan on increasing their use of traditional mail.  When I read this, all I could think was, “People still use snail mail?”

I do recognize that many NPO’s gear towards older constituents in terms of marketing strategies, but I still don’t understand how the percentage of email use is not at 100.  My old, ornery grandmother is the only person in the world I know who still sends letters that aren’t Christmas cards…  Reading the McLaughlin article sort of felt like reading about how humans, at one point, transitioned from writing on papyrus to using pencils.

Perhaps this is just the mentality of my generation shining through, but switching to computer-based communication seems like old news.

The whole article got me thinking about exactly how fast the computer-based marketing world is moving.  Communications trends are changing to the extent that literature on the subject can’t be written in time to be considered “up to date”–knowing that, how, as a Non-Profit marketeer, does one stay “caught up”?  I wonder how much of the NP marketing process nowadays is considered “constant”, and how much of it is just continually trying new things and hoping that something works.

Reading Mclaughlin’s article made me even more grateful to be getting the chance to work first hand in Non-Profit marketing this semester.  It’s becoming clear to me that–while one can understand the general principles of community building and information sharing–the experience of actually being in the field will be the best educational tool one can have when it comes to understanding the shifts in new media communications.  Because the communication landscape is changing so constantly, there’s really only so much that books and articles can describe.

On the other hand, the BLOGS I’ve been skimming about NPO marketing and community outreach practices seem to be very effective means of tracing tech-based communication trends.

Sneaking suspicion this has something to do with the fact that they are themselves: technology based communications….

1. Introductions

Hello there, fellow Non-Profiteers!

My name is Lisa, and I’m a 22 year-old from Ann Arbor, MI.  I’m a senior this year, majoring in English, and Arts and Ideas through the University of Michigan’s Residential College.  I love art, as well as reading and writing, and do a whole lot of each.  My writing medium of choice is fictional prose.  I haven’t done much blogging before, so this will be fun practice.

Actually,  this whole class is going to be fun practice for me, as I have never done any of it.  I am a Non-Profit and computer networking “noob”.  I have done some volunteer work in the past with a local food kitchen, and helped out a family friend with her work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but that is the closest I have ever gotten to an NPO.

I am a bit of an outsider regarding student organizations too.  My excuse is that I’ve spent every other year of college working.  This is the first time I’ve not had a 20-30 hour work week, and I guess that is why this class appealed so much to me.  With my extra time, I want to gain more experience working with computer based social media, and I think that working specifically with Non-Profit Organizations seems like a good way to get more involved with the community.  With my graduation looming, I feel like I need as much of all that as I can get!

That said: now I have to figure out where to start.  Christine told me in class that she thought I’d fit well interning with the Ann Arbor Center for the Performing Arts, due to my interest in the Humanities.  I used to take violin lessons through their program when I was  younger, so this should be fun.

I hope that despite my inexperience I will find a way be useful to the organization, and I am excited to learn as much as I can from this opportunity!