Create an Advertising Directory

Justin Salisbury

Create an Advertising Directory
by Justin Salisbury

So, we have an idea. We’re putting on a student seminar, a student division social, or a fun activity at the state convention. We know how to run it, who will speak, what kind of food we want, but now…how do we get people to attend? Whom do we invite? How do we spread the word?
A few years ago, when I was an undergraduate in North Carolina, we devised a solution: create an advertising directory for our state. With four people working on the project for only about two months, we realized that it was, in fact, possible. Just as we spread the concept of a structured discovery training center from Iowa to Louisiana and beyond, we are today spreading the model of a state student division advertising directory.
The system is simple. A division can create a directory of disability contacts at all universities, community colleges, and trade schools in its state. As soon as we had organized this directory, advertising our events became much simpler. We did it all in Microsoft Excel, too.
Since the last issue of the Student Slate, the National Association of Blind Students has run a series of three workshops to teach state student divisions how to build advertising directories for all institutions of higher education in each respective state. Our workshops were attended by representatives from Maryland, Michigan, Arizona, and Florida.
Before creating an advertising directory, check with other entities within the state that might have already created one. If it exists and someone is willing to distribute it, do not reinvent the wheel. If one can be acquired, please consider the following system as a method for updating or expanding that which already exists.
To create an advertising directory, first visit http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/ and navigate under the headings for U.S. Universities and U.S. Community Colleges for lists by state. Copy and paste the list of institutions into the first column of an Excel spreadsheet. This task must be performed twice (once for universities and once for community colleges). Title the column “Institution Name” or however you like. Title the second column “Disability Contact,” the third column “Position,” “Title,” or “Occupation,” the fourth column “Email,” and the fifth column “Phone.”
Now, begin to search for the information needed to fill in the spreadsheet. I often started with Google searches for, for example, “Duke University disability”, and then followed up with the contacts I found with phone calls or emails. Try to find a key person on campus who interacts with students with disabilities. It often appears as the person a student must contact to request accommodations. Some rural small institutions with 200 students might not be easy to investigate online, but a quick call to campus can lead to the answer. In North Carolina, one student argued that we should ignore the small institutions because the chance of finding blind students there was slim. I argued back that we can find blind students anywhere, and we may discover a future national president at one of those schools. We included them.

When we first saw that there were 128 institutions in North Carolina, it was almost daunting. We kept level heads and broke the list down. If three people worked on the list, each one only had to cover 42 or 43 schools. If we each found information for five schools per week, we could be done in two months. When we broke it down, the big task became very simple.
I enjoyed leading these workshops and recommend that states begin these projects before the heat of the moment with a seminar or state convention approaching. It makes life so much easier if we can be motivated to complete this project during a period of low urgency. Using a system like Dropbox to keep everyone’s progress in clear view can boost morale. Once this directory is built, the student divisions can help the scholarship committees advertise for the state and national scholarship programs. Campus offices love passing along information about scholarships, so this will be a great way to build names for the student division and affiliate on campus.
Every state student division is capable of creating an advertising directory. For any questions, I can be reached at justin.salisbury@earthlink.net.