It was a bit like Christmas in September the other morning when I stopped by the Advancement office at SUNY Potsdam. The fresh smell of cardboard in the air, the soft smooth sound of a couple of CD's in their cases sliding out of the box they were shipped in. I know as a culture we have largely gone digital and moved away from physical product but I found it very fulfilling to hold in my hand something that I had worked hard on for many years- along with the other producer on the project Deb Dudley. They only pressed 200 CD's, they're individually numbered- so they have inherent value, right? Some folks might fight me on this but I say YES. Yes, they have value.
I started conducting video interviews- and later- some exclusively committed to audio- about eight years ago when we moved here. I spoke with faculty, alums, students, staff, really anyone they'd allow me to speak with about their experiences at the school. It's used for marketing of course, but I see it as more than that, I have to, or I'd go insane. It's about learning. EVERYONE has a story, EVERYONE can teach you something. It's not always obvious at the time. But we learn from other people and their experiences. It builds empathy, it builds understanding, it is an opportunity to share a laugh, and once in a while, a tear.
The material has been available online for a couple of months, but it feels real now, feels substantial. It's an album! SUNY Potsdam dropped an album! These CDs were presented to donors at a dinner- just as a little surprise in their goodie bags-very nice. I had a wonderful message from one of the interviewees, who happens to be a neighbor. I dropped of a CD at her house and she thought it was fantastic, said she sat and listened and really REALLY enjoyed it, that made my day. She's getting up there in her years and I don't think she's inclined to go to bandcamp and download some digi files. Putting a CD in her player? She'll do that. We absolutely would NOT have reached her without physical product. I know she's just one person, I know there was certainly some expense in creating the discs- it's really quite affordable these days actually- but it was worth it I believe. It was worth it to be able to reach out to those involved, those who shared their stories with me. Aren't they the ones who will most appreciate what OTHER folks had to say about their Alma Mater.
I look forward to more interviews, more 'brain-picks,' more opportunities to learn. To fill my head and to fill my heart. I'm happy that we can share these stories, there are 66 of them on the CD! Go get yourself one.. or head to the bandcamp site and build your own little Potsdam Podcast. Physical Product isn't ALWAYS needed, but in this particular case- it was a great call. Oh and speaking of self-promotion? Send me a message and let's figure out how we can do something like THIS for YOUR organization. What a great way to enhance corporate- or other- identity.