In this post, authors Vince Lee and Rachel Seale, members of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA), share their impressions from attending the COPA-sponsored “Carpe Media! Communications and Media Training for Archivists” workshop at ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018.
“Carpe Media! Communications and Media Training for Archivists” was a day long workshop put together by SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) and facilitated by Jason Steinhauer at Archives*Records 2018. This workshop offered archivists the necessary tools and confidence to be better communicators on their profession and organization to a wide variety of audiences. Many of us were forced out of our comfort zones to participate in activities that helped focus our message about archives, in general, and specific messages to our respective stakeholders and users, in particular.
COPA worked with SAA Executive Director, Nancy Beaumont, and Director of Publishing, Teresa Brinati, to bring this professional development opportunity to SAA members. Communicating effectively to the media or on social media is something most archivists have learned on the job and many of us would still like to develop these skills. Reasons for attending the training and what they hoped to get out of it were articulated at the beginning of the session during introductions between Jason and the attendees:
- Tools to raise awareness of what they do and the collections they have to the general public
- Make communications more interesting and impactful to targeted audience
- Communicate more strategically
- Awareness and advocacy targeted to grass roots audience on why archivists and their organizations need additional resources/facilities to house and process their collections
- Donor communications and bridging perceptions on archivists and our roles
- Awareness and community outreach to potential donors
- Get “buy-in” from organizational leadership for additional resources
- Communicating history and heritage to internal stakeholders
- Be concise and consistent.
Be repetitive, don’t assume people are going to see your one Tweet amidst the 500 million other Tweets that day.
- You have customers and users. Tailor your message to each group.
- Your brand is a promise to deliver something to your customers and also how you are perceived.
- Resist the temptation to be clever.
- Stick to the message, don’t be cute or snarky or that’s what the journalist may cut out of context and use in their piece.
- Choose the platform/s that is most used by your customers and users. Don’t know which platform? Survey!
- Always be connected (ABC)-think about who you are connecting to and with and what message your audience wants/expects to receive.
Attendees from the workshop came away with a newfound appreciation that words matter and time is short. The words we use to tell our stories about ourselves, our profession, and the organizations we work for must come from us in order to be authentic and resonate to those we are trying to communicate to. We all have a limited amount of time and space to get our point across. We need to think of the essence of the thing without the whole thing. What is the essence of archives? It’s important to strip and distill what an archives is down for our audience in digestible chunks. The essence of archives is about the words we choose to describe ourselves and our profession. It’s important that we incorporate and use our words in conversations with donors, media, and our customers on a consistent basis.
At the end attendees had the opportunity to practice what they have learned in a one-on-one role-play exercise with Jason on various scenarios and situations they may find themselves in- whether it is interviewing in front of a camera, requesting more funding from an administrator or donor, or requesting additional resources in support of a project. Attendees would then receive feedback on their performance from both Jason and their peers.