Alumni Communications – the Path Forward

lowell-communicationsAs many of you reading this know, paper newsletters are becoming a thing of the past. For various reasons – most prominent among them a University-wide dropping of the practice – we have moved to fully electronic communications. With the rise of social media, there may be some questions about the what, when, and where of the Big Red Bands (the “why” is easy: because we say so).

We have devoted a large portion of the last two spring BRBAA Advisory Council meetings to developing a communications roadmap. The core of communications will be in a newly revamped (but not quite finished) website that will be located at Bookmark it now! The bulk of the content will be newsletter articles, and they will arrive in large content uploads twice yearly, with smaller uploads at the beginning of football and hockey season. With that sort of (in)frequency, we know you won’t be starting each day looking at the site; as such, there will be a blast email from Cornell (similar to what you received during the building campaign) alerting you to what is available. The website will be mobile friendly, which I hope will at least in part address some people’s concern that a newsletter is the type of thing you read while in the bathroom (don’t deny it). There may be smaller content updates in between “issues,” and we’ll let you know via email when there may something of interest to you. One important obstacle we’re working on is how to adjust your communications settings with Cornell so that you get those emails – obviously, if you’re reading this there’s not a problem.

The website will be structured as scrolling articles with links to jump to whichever post interests you. We will also keep contact info for Alumni Association officers, student leaders, sports schedules, and other things that are important but relatively static. In essence, webpage = newsletter.

This brings us to social media, and it’s kind of a mess. Right now there are four Facebook sites, including Cornell Big Red Band, Cornell Big Red Pep Band, and Big Red Bands Alumni–Let’s Go Red.  This is in addition to section and other smaller group sites, which people are free to run as they see fit. We tried as best we could to minimize the number of destinations, but they serve different purposes. Starting with the easiest to address:  BRMB historian is, essentially, the 21st century version of reprints. It’s an unfiltered photo dump of every picture of the band you can imagine. It is for the students, but feel free to poke around if you like. The two most important sites are Cornell Big Red Band and Cornell Big Red Pep Band, and they are “pages.” They are open to the public. The students update them regularly, with some input from the alumni officers. I strongly encourage you to like them, as this is where we will post official announcements (in addition to the blast emails). If you post here everybody else who likes the page may not get a notification (but you will when the administrators do). Lastly, there is Big Red Bands Alumni–Let’s Go Red. This was to be the victim of the bunch, but a small vocal group has protested. We’ll likely keep it around, but it will not be used in an official capacity. It is, in Facebook parlance, a “group,” meaning it is meant for frivolous discussion that everybody can see and contribute to. Clearly, this is an essential component of being a band alum, but please go ahead and like the two band pages as well. There’s also a LinkedIn group and two Twitter feeds (@BigRedMarchingB and @BigRedPepBand), but they are not as frequented now.

That addresses the “where” and the “when,” but not the “what,” and having a good communications system isn’t particularly helpful if your content is poor. Historically, Band Notes has almost entirely focused on the student experience. That will still be there, but what we hope to expand significantly is the kind of information that you care about as an alumni and supporter of the band that perhaps you didn’t as a student.  We are, after all, an alumni association, and you deserve to know what’s going on with a group that you have such a strong connection with. This means information on what big picture issues the band is facing, where your generous gifts are going, and how you can be involved. There should be something for everybody, whether you want to know what kind of music the band is playing (more Dr. Worm!) or how the band’s endowment is performing (charts and graphs!).  I think we did a good job with this at the fall BRBAA meeting, the presentation from which you can view here.

Most importantly, none of this is set in stone. The most important reason to have a clear communications system is so that you can chime in – let us know what you want to know! I hope this brings some clarity, and I’ll see you on the intertubes.

Lowell Frank ‘99
Chair, Big Red Bands Alumni Association