The University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken a creative approach to building public support for its budget request, launching an advertising campaign to promote the contributions of its alumni across Wisconsin’s 72 counties. If executed well this can be a smart approach, and I’ve seen it work for other institutions.
When I worked for Indiana University, someone came up with the idea to quantify the impact of the university throughout the state. The result was a report that documented for all 92 Indiana counties a rich set of localized data ranging from the number of IU graduates in each county including specifics like doctors and teachers, the number of employees residing in each county, enrolled students, and university purchasing with businesses in the county. This effort required an enormous amount of data-gathering, but was hugely effective in showing the impact and reach of IU. As a bonus, daily and weekly newspapers and radio stations in each county ran prominent stories highlighting their local data. I’ll be interested to watch this Wisconsin campaign unfold and see what the results are.