Session 3 - Storytelling and Communications (June 2021 Cohort)

@june21-cohort, I’m pleased to see you’ve made some progress on project homepages and project summaries, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the project scoping process is going during our team updates tomorrow. You can easily access the project homepages for our cohort in one place in our About the June ‘21 Cohort thread if you’d like to keep tabs on what the other teams are doing. Thank you to all those who have shared their project summaries thus far. If you have questions as you continue to work through them, please don’t hesitate to ask in our cohort discussion space or to message me directly. And remember, your projects will likely evolve over time, so it’s totally fine if your homepages and summaries are still works in progress. As we’ll discuss this week, there is still great value in communicating about your work at this stage, even if you’re unsure about what you’re doing.

Our session this week will cover storytelling and communications and why it’s valuable to begin that process early and continue it consistently throughout the development of your resource. We’ll discuss some strategies for communicating your work to others and consider some questions for developing your project elevator pitch.

Here are the handout and slides for our session:

  1. Handout: Storytelling and Communications
  2. Slides: Storytelling and Communications

See you all tomorrow!

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Hello @june21-cohort, thank you for such a great session yesterday! I really appreciate you all asking lots of questions and contributing to a fruitful discussion. Here is our chat transcript from yesterday.

Project summaries and announcement

We’ll be announcing the cohort and your projects to the wider community in the near future, so please share/update your project summaries and homepages as soon as possible. Information about our cohort, including links to your project homepages, can be found in our About the June '21 Cohort thread.

Here are the project summaries that have been shared so far:

For those of you who still need to put together your summary, here’s the project summary template, and here are the examples we looked at last week. When you’ve finished writing your summary, post it to your project discussion space.

Session Recap

Marketing and open communications are all about developing a community around your book, and ultimately gathering a group of adopters that will help maintain your book in the long-term. Rebus’ own marketing philosophy is built on the principles of openness, collaboration, and inclusion. The way we see it, marketing is really a series of connections: more often between people & projects, and in our case, between collaborators and communities.

Marketing is about creating and telling a story that will resonate with others and inspire them to join you. The story of a book starts from day zero, right from the moment you thought about creating the resource. So get the word out early and announce your project’s existence, and don’t forget to highlight why you decided to start the project or what makes it unique.

And keep this up! Frequent communications will mean that the project stays on the radar for those outside the team, and helps build the momentum leading up to the official release (take a look at our list of tactics).

Being public about your project work also ensures that it isn’t being replicated elsewhere – others may just decide to join forces with you instead. Instead of thinking of marketing as a single phase in the publishing process, try to look at each stage through this lens (look at our slides for some hints on how to weave marketing in every phase).

Make sure that your communication is providing value to others: whether by surfacing the advantages that a particular task will bring to the project or by sharing success stories when milestones are hit. Don’t forget about your biggest marketing asset: the people around your project. Since the project is made up of you and others, we don’t want you to hide behind the scenes! It’s important to recognize you and the work you do — so showcase the team, solicit quotes to share, and get them involved. This also makes your project more compelling to others, as this taps into the general audience’s interests in the personal aspects of publishing.

Finally, remember that a big portion of marketing and communications is listening: validating and recognizing external comments is important to build the connection and trust with those new to the project or simply following it. Respond to comments in a timely manner, and you’ll be surprised at how this small human touch can set your project apart from others. The support of those around your project can have a bigger impact than any other tactics you may employ.

Additional Resources

There were some questions this week about getting started with Pressbooks. If you’d like to get access through Rebus, go over to this thread that @Monica started, and she will help to get you set up. There are also some links to additional Pressbooks resources that will be useful regardless of whether you get Pressbooks access through Rebus or through your own institution.

As you begin planning where you might want to communicate outwardly in order to cultivate a community around your project and possibly recruit collaborators, you may want to take a look at this example mailing lists spreadsheet that is in the Session 3 folder of the TSP Curriculum Hub, along with the session slides and handout. The spreadsheet includes information about a variety of lists with an open education focus. You’ll likely have additional venues in mind that are specific to the disciplines/communities that you’re a part of, but if you’re looking for some suggestions, please feel free to ask here so that we can help you crowdsource some options.

As always, I encourage you to ask questions here in our shared discussion space. We’re all here to learn from and support each other. Thanks again for a great session!

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