One Day University University of Pennsylvania professor William Burke-White discusses world politics April 6, 2014, at a hotel in New York.
Rock star professors are electrifying new audiences under a partnership between One Day University and newspapers.
One Day U and more than 20 newspapers present events featuring professors who educate and entertain. The events are held in cities of various sizes across the country.
The partnership offers ways for newspapers to generate revenue and to create advertising opportunities. It also lets newspapers connect with their readers in a fun way — giving them a chance to be college students again.
“Unlike people in most other countries, Americans sort of have this fantasy of what college was like,” said Steven Schragis, director of One Day University. “‘Wouldn’t it be great to go back to college?’ is a very American sentiment.”
About One Day U
Schragis founded One Day U in 2006 in New York. He works with business partner Kevin Brennan, managing director of One Day U, and a small staff.
One Day U offers learning opportunities in different formats, from full-day events with talks to a film screening followed by an analysis and Q&A. There are no homework assignments or tests. While registration fees vary depending on the session and city, the average price for a full-day event is $140.
“We go to colleges and universities around the country,” Schragis said. “We look for the most popular, most interesting professors. We ask them to give their best one-hour lecture. … It is education, but it is also a performance.”
Audiences in cities build over time because events spotlight different professors and subjects, Schragis said. “Almost 70 percent of attendees come back.”
Brennan said One Day U plans to grow with its newspaper and museum partners. It is looking into expanding with much larger learning events, he added. “Our partners do trust us for content ideas, and there is a willingness to experiment.”
About the newspaper program
Since 2012, One Day U has worked with local newspapers in cities where it goes. One Day U usually teams up with a newspaper on an event in the spring and another in the fall.
One Day U puts the program together. It handles the event registration, customer service, the hiring of the professors as well as the renting of the venue.
One Day U looks to its newspaper partner to promote the event. One Day U provides digital and print ads, which can run as they are or can be modified. The newspaper usually introduces One Day U to an editor or a writer for pitching story ideas.
A newspaper can co-host the event and can bring in a sponsor. The sponsor’s logo can be in the digital and print ads as well as in the event program. The sponsor can be mentioned at the beginning of the event. Also at the event, the sponsor can offer goody bags or other giveaways and can have a booth or table.
“Newspapers can do as much or as little as they want,” Brennan said. “They don’t have to do the creative or even show up at the event, if they don’t want to.”
One Day U emails a short survey to attendees after the event. A newspaper can use the information to prepare for the next one in terms of advertising and getting a sponsor.
After paying the bills, One Day U shares the remaining revenue with the newspaper.
One Day U has worked with the Arizona Republic, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Austin (Texas) Statesman, Boston Globe, Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dallas Morning News, Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Miami Herald, Naples (Florida) Daily News, Oregonian in Portland, Palm Beach (Florida) Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Providence (Rhode Island) Journal, Sacramento (California) Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, Seattle Times, Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, Vero Beach (Florida) Press Journal, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
The Star Tribune has been involved with four One Day U events — in April and October of each of the last two years. The newspaper’s next One Day U event, scheduled for Oct. 10, will feature talks on politics, art, psychology and astronomy.
“These events are great for us in that we don’t often have the occasion to meet our readers in person and bring our brand to life,” Michael J. Klingensmith, publisher and CEO of Star Tribune Media Company LLC, wrote in an email. “They are part of a broader strategy to increase our reader engagement — not only online — but with live events.”
Klingensmith, treasurer of NAA, found that what you get out of an event is what you put into it. He added, “The more you promote it, the better the ticket sales — and the more you integrate your people and promotion into the event, the more brand benefit that you accrue.”
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.