I was curious about the alumni call last night, so I asked the U how things went, how much it cost, etc.
Here's what I got back from media relations associate Matt Hodson:
We believe that alumni are critical to the success of our University and the President wants to find creative ways to engage and communicate with them more directly. We did this call because it was a cost effective way to reach a large number of alumni. It allowed us to engage alumni, wherever they happened to be in Minnesota.
This was a pilot for us. We will be sending out a survey to those who participated, and those who did not. The results will help inform the decision to host future calls.
60,000 alumni were invited to participate on the call. Nearly 10,000 alumni participated in some portion of the call, and between 1,000 and 1,500 stayed on the call for the full 30 minutes.
The cost of the call was $25,000, which was split between the U of M Alumni Association, U of M Foundation and University Relations. The cost comes out to less than $0.50 per alum.
The call went very smoothly, and there were very few dropped calls.
A full recording of the call will be posted on alumnicall.umn.edu later today.
We received more than 100 questions, and President Kaler was able to answer 12 questions. Those chosen were representative of the types of topics/questions we were receiving.
President Kaler did not answer a question about Tubby Smith.
I told Hodson I found it a bit odd that out of 10,000 alumni, no one asked about the firing of basketball coach Tubby Smith -- one of the hottest stories of the week. Were such questions screened out?
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There were a couple of Tubby Smith-related questions asked among the many topics that we did not have time to address. Pres. Kaler did address the importance of Gopher Athletics generally. He also gave a statement on Monday afternoon regarding Tubby's dismissal, and nothing on that front has changed since.
On another note, I asked Macalester College spokeswoman Barbara Laskin what her college's experience has been with the mass conference calls with alumni. Mac has done one, so I asked her by email whether it was worth the effort and money, and whether they would do another one.
We have thought about doing another but have no specific plans.