Lucy Ayre discusses how she ran a successful digital marketing campaign to promote Open Access week at the University of Derby by getting out of the library and working across teams.
THE University of Derby is a post-92 university in the East Midlands, rated gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Derby is investing in staff and facilities to build upon its research environment, and my role is to establish new ways of supporting research within the library.
I am responsible for the University of Derby Online Research Archive (Udora) Institutional Repository (IR) service and provide advice on publishing in Open Access books and journals (a new role, which I took on just over a year ago). A big part of my professional development has been outreach: coming up with ways to ensure every researcher, or aspiring researcher, knows about Open Access and Udora. I am always looking for ways to get my service noticed and International Open Access Week (23-29 October) offered a week-long window of opportunity to put Open Access on the agenda. So what did I do and what have I learned?
Digital marketing campaign
It was vital that I faced my challenges from the outset: there is only one of me and a university full of people across multiple sites and online. International Open Access Week ran over the local half-term holidays, meaning that some people would miss the week completely. I also had to find a way to be relevant to researchers at different points in their career. After considering the challenges, I decided a digital marketing campaign would be a sensible approach to take. It didn’t sound like a lot, until I really got started!
The blessing of a digital marketing campaign is that content can be prepared in advance. I came up with ideas that would be of interest to different researchers, including:
an online guide to publishing
an infographic of interesting facts and figures
a photography competition
I decided upon a single webpage to act as the focal point for the campaign: The ideas were exciting and challenging, but a whole week’s worth of content can’t be produced by one person – I needed help!
Cross team planning
My plan was to get help from other teams across the university with a stake in research, ensuring that there could be as wide a reach as possible for the campaign. My managers supported this, and I was able to attend social media huddles, Student Union radio broadcasts, and internal research conferences. These activities introduced me to the university’s research community and I met research administrators, marketing teams, students and academic staff. We established a mutual rapport and built trust as we learned about each other’s roles and expertise. After reaching out to these colleagues, I was able to pull together a small team of people who produced the content and developed marketing ideas. In total, the planning process took about six weeks from beginning to end.
The ideas were collated into a marketing plan, which I used throughout the campaign to keep track of all online communications. My media advisor colleagues taught me how to record and edit video interviews for the university’s YouTube channel. Colleagues in marketing helped with producing flyers and badges and designing a screensaver, which was seen on all staff PCs and AV screens across the university.
I included notices within staff and student newsletters, arranged tweets and retweets from a variety of institutional social media accounts, sent out targeted emails via the marketing department, and was even interviewed by the Union of Students’ radio station. Social media posts were drafted in advance and carefully crafted for release throughout the week. The marketing plan made it easy to see which posts were scheduled, meaning that during the week itself I was able to devote some time to check-in on the hashtag #OAWeek on Twitter and Facebook.
As with many aspects of work, the most time-consuming parts often end up being the most rewarding. One of the highlights of the campaign was the series of YouTube interviews we conducted with academics. I used my position on university committees to invite academics to be interviewed and was pleasantly surprised when all the bookable slots were filled! We blocked out time over four weeks to film across five different sites. During the filming, academics commented that they appreciated the time we spent in visiting and talking about their research. It was also useful for me to hear the similarities and differences of Open Access approaches across disciplines.
Attracting entrants to the research photography competition proved more of a challenge. The competition required entrants to capture their research in a single imaginative image and send it to the library’s email or Twitter account (@DerbyUniLibrary) adding #OAWeek to their tweet. The competition had a slow start, but this was overcome by sending targeted emails to researchers and PhD students. The winner was unanimously chosen, with two runners-up getting a special commendation (see all the photos here). The photography competition brought a visual and fun element to the week and is likely to be repeated in future.
At the end of the week, analytic tools showed me the level of engagement the campaign received. The numbers indicated strong interaction across the videos, guide and blog posts; with hundreds of views. The online approach meant that we reached a far higher number of people than traditional talks or events. Viewers could interact with the material at their convenience, sharing the videos and content with students and professional networks.
The campaign proved to be a great way of building relationships with people that will benefit my future work and projects. The infographic attracted interest from senior management, who saw potential for it to inform strategic decisions. I also had follow up invitations to present on Open Access within academic departments and research centres.
Get out of the library
Running a successful digital marketing campaign has taught me that people are the key to its success, it pays to leave the comfort of the library and establish an excellent working relationship with colleagues in other departments. One person could not have successfully undertaken the campaign, but with time, planning and a willingness to share ideas and expertise we delivered a wide reaching, clear and inclusive research support message.
Headline image: A photography competition sought to capture research in a single imaginative image. Martin Stelfox, PhD Student at University of Derby took the winning photo, which aimed to show how the issue of ghost gear entanglements is being tackled through scientific research and collaboration.