U are Not a Theme Park
We cringe every time we are asked the question: what should the theme of this year’s [fill in the blank] event be? Fortunately, the answer is always an easy one.
U – the theme of the event should be U, is always U. The actual question to be asked, the one that deserves the careful answer is: who do you hope to attract to the event and what messages are appropriate for them? Answering this question is the best path to a successful gathering.
Consider the reasons for the gathering and be honest with yourself because this will ultimately define success. For example, it’s not enough that it’s a reunion year. That’s an arbitrary distinction applied by U. Acknowledge that we’ve all been trained to think in time increments of five years and instead, think about why U really want this group to gather at this particular time. Is their annual giving down or was it never up? Are their offspring reaching college age at the same time that your admissions numbers are ebbing? Is there a need to build more internship and study abroad opportunities? Are there a few class members who are well-heeled but disenfranchised?
Identifying the reasons for gathering beyond the rote ultimately will allow U to craft messaging that will resonate most deeply and create a draw to the event itself without gimmicks and slogans.