Publicity Campaigns

Digital humanities is generally a public-oriented field of inquiry, with results that can be shared beyond a specialized academic discipline. Crafting an effective publicity campaign can help you connect with others in your field, find partners, secure more funding, and generate excitement about your research.

Branding Your Project

  • Choose an appealing title that communicates your topic.
  • Design a visually appealing, intuitive logo and website so that those who want to publicize your work may do so easily.
  • Provide citations on each page so users may easily give appropriate attribution.
  • Get your project out on social media.
  • Be consistent about branding! This is how you retain control of your image.

General Tips

  • Figure out which social media sites your scholarly community uses.
  • For every account, write down username and password.
  • Make use of social media plug-ins on websites and across social media accounts.
  • Do be judicious about linking project accounts with more personal accounts.
  • Don’t open accounts unless you’re willing to update and maintain them.
  • Build updates into your work plan and schedule!
  • It’s probably not a good idea to create accounts for short-term projects.
  • Remember, no matter your privacy settings, no social media account is perfectly safe.

Press Release Material:

  • Award of funding, including internal grants (if it’s competitive, get credit).
  • Documenting your progress (milestones: software, books, articles).
  • When new partners join (welcome them, network with their connections).
  • When you publish/present findings.
  • Release of products or deliverables.

Components of a Press Release:

  • Project title and Abstract
  • Message/Update
  • Tags/Handles of partners and funders
  • Website link
  • Quote from pertinent person

It might be useful to write a single blog post on the update and then push it out on relevant platforms and to interested parties.

It might also be useful to get quotes from people with a lot of pull or large virtual following, so that you reach their network, as well.

Outlets (Who to Send Press Release To):

  • Project Staff
  • Campus Stakeholders (college, library, research office, press office)
  • External Partners
  • Funders/Sponsors (let them know their money is well spent!)
  • News outlets (general publications as well as digital humanities- or discipline-specific)
  • Your professional network


You are ready to discuss your work publicly when you:

  • Start your project (project generation, plans, how to get involved).
  • Are in progress (issues you are dealing with, partner-seeking, beta-testing).
  • Reach the midterm (initial results).
  • Deliver final products (successes and failures).

Coincide your major project press releases/deliverables with:

  • Deadlines for conferences
  • Funding deadlines
  • Start of the academic year


From: Designing Your Publicity Campaign

Making Changes and Confronting Problems

Projects don’t always proceed as planned, and sometimes changes need to be made or problems arise. Reflect on the situation and consult your project documentation (charter, budget, and work plan) to figure out where the issue is. Should the project change course? Is there a problem in resources, personnel, or something else?

Making Changes to Your Work Plan

You can’t control everything, so you do have to be prepared for changes and anticipate problems where possible.

What might change?

Change in scope of the project (may require approval from sponsor):

  • Overall project change (e.g., change in deliverables)
  • Design element change
  • Technology change (e.g., need to change coding language)
  • Change in mission/business (e.g., shift of topic)
  • Change in skills (e.g., team members leave)

Change in baseline (which might require budget adjustments):

  • Project specifications
  • Financial changes (e.g., budgetary issues due to altered labor needs)

Changes in resources (e.g., planned resources no longer available and must be reallocated):

  • Partner changes (e.g., someone leaves and funding must be moved)
  • Changes in discipline/field

When is change needed?

  • you’re not meeting deliverables (e.g., too many of them or too little time)
  • your team isn’t working well together
  • you have addition of, or change in, partners
  • resources disappear
  • funders or stakeholders request changes
  • principle investigator (PI) isn’t doing their job (e.g., due to time constraints)

When is change allowed?

When it doesn’t cost you:

  •                         additional money,
  •                         additional time,
  •                         additional deliverables,

UNLESS by making the change you:

  •                         deliver a better product.
  •                         you can increase the impact.
  •                         you are better positioned for the next phase of the project.

HOWEVER, be especially cautious about scope creep:

  •                         when new partners come to the project.
  •                         when PIs get excited.
  •                         when projects get press.
  •                         when your staff changes.

To prevent scope creep, conduct regular scope assessments.


  • Does the current scope accomplish the primary goals?
  • Are the core stakeholders pleased? Get their feedback.
  • Is the project team enjoying its work?

When a project becomes painful:

  • Identify the quickest route to completion (while still meeting all requirements of original proposal).
  • Remove all extraneous meetings/work. Streamline as much as possible.
  • Be up front about what isn’t working.

Changing Project Scope:

  1. Schedule an all-team meeting to discuss changes and potential effects.
  2. Draft a memorandum of change (or other formal documentation) to update project work plan and team members’ responsibilities.
  3. Notify stakeholder, and ask permissions where necessary. Here it is generally much better to ask permission rather than ask forgiveness.

Confronting Problems

When Projects Go Awry

Delays (avoidable or otherwise):

  • Determine what (or who) is causing it.
  • Figure out what you MUST have to move forward.
  • Set and enforce hard deadlines.
  • Use your power(s) to get things moving.

Not enough money:

  • Revisit budget and identify where you can save money.
  • Determine if money can be reallocated.
  • Figure out which deliverables have the most impact, and prioritize them.

Not enough time:

  • Prioritize deliverables.
  • Be realistic about what can get done.
  • Consult work plan and make adjustments.
  • Let team members/funders know immediately.

When Team Members are Unsuccessful:

  • Is it a personality problem?
  • Is it a knowledge issue?
  • Is something going on with that person?
  • Play to people’s strengths.
  • Offer training.
  • Offer opportunity to discuss.
  • Draw a firm line in the sand.

When PIs (Principal Investigators) are the Problem:

“I am so….(busy, overworked, overcommitted).”

  • Be clear that time is money.
  • Be clear that everyone (and their time/effort) is valuable.
  • Be clear that without their support, the project can’t move forward.
  • Be clear that you can’t reconfigure everything because they have an issue.

Your Options:

  • Document deliverables (or lack thereof).
  • Document your attempts to meet/discuss.
  • Write a formal letter of request.
  • Cut off access to staff and resources.
  • A combination of these.

Keeping a log of issues that arise may help you identify patterns of problems.

When YOU (the project manager/coordinator) are the problem:

  • Allow team members or PI to suggest changes.
  • Be honest when you no longer are useful to the project.
  • Discuss clearly your problems/issues and offer solutions.
  • Decide whether you still believe in the project and then act accordingly.
  • Don’t let it fester.

Your job is to see the project through, but you should also be aware that at times, the best course of action will be to end the project, rather than continue to pour time and resources into a doomed venture.


From: Building Your First Work Plan, All About the Problems

Creating a Work Plan

Before beginning a project, it’s a good idea to construct a work plan that details the progress of the project from start to finish. Creating and distributing this plan will ensure that all team members and stakeholders are on the same page regarding the project’s schedule and deliverables.

A work plan includes:

  • a list of itemized tasks, as detailed and specific as possible.
  • a list of individual responsibilities. Assign each task to someone.
  • a time element, including length of time per task and a reasonable deadline.
  • an account of how tasks depend upon one another for completion.
  • a deliverables/outcome element.

Step One:

  • List every major objective, and include all the individual steps to get to it.
  • The first time you do a digital humanities project, treat everything as a task that must be assigned to someone. Include every task in the formal work plan.

Step Two:

  • For every task, list who is responsible, by team and/or by person.

Step Three:

  • For every task, list the deliverable.
  • Determine the task’s success criteria.  How do you know when the task is completed, and who is responsible for determining this? Upon completion, where does the deliverable go, physically or digitally? (Think through storage issues.)

Step Four:

  • For every task, list the amount of time required from start to finish.
  • Consider how the tasks depend on each other’s completion (i.e., their dependencies). This will also help you think about staff allocation, which in turn helps you think about time allocation and therefore resource/financial allocation. (Don’t forget to account for wait times, such as opening expense accounts, processing paperwork, or awaiting equipment delivery. In addition, take into account “closing” activities, like submitting finalized forms and wrapping up loose ends.)

Common Time Measurements

How do you measure time? It depends on the project’s overall duration and complexity. A single year project will most likely be written by the month. (Also, be aware that it’s unlikely anyone will get anything done Dec 15-Jan 15, as well as the first and last 2 weeks of the academic semester. Take into account national and religious holidays, as well as other time zones.)

Budgeting Your Time

  • Assume you’re working on a 40-hour week.
  • It may be easier to estimate the percentage of someone’s time, rather than the exact amount of time, that the task will take.
  • Budget not only your own time, but also that of your team.
  • Remember, it is unlikely that all team members will be contributing 100% of their work week to the project.

How do you figure out how long something should take?

  • Figure out what other tasks this task is dependent on.
  • Determine how complex it is.
  • Ask how many people are engaged in the project/task.
  • Is it something that someone has done before? Can you ask for input?

Ways to Build a Work Plan

  • The plan that works best depends on the nature of the project and how you like to organize your work.
  • Some possibilities:

-Word document
-Excel Spreadsheet
-Microsoft Project
-Tree chart: good for showing task dependencies and relationships
-Gantt Chart (typically recommended by books on project management): shows time, with objectives and deliverables, broken out by task. Good for assigning tasks, labor, and person-power.
-Network diagram: maps the longest path through the tasks and dependencies to determine timeline.

  • Figure out what organizing principles works best for you, your project, and your team.
  • Try to make sure you don’t have any bottlenecks, where everyone is waiting on one person to finish something. Find something else to move on with while you wait.

Ways to Improve Your Work Plan

  • Color code types of work: by person completing task, by objective, by type of task (e.g., all coding tasks are purple, project management is red), or by who is in charge of making supervisory decisions
  • Create modules: identify teams and types of work that are interdependent, to designate portions of the project that you can hand off to those teams and allow them to sort out their day to day goals to achieve the overall objective you’ve assigned to them.
  • Identify dependencies.

Work Plan in Practice, by Project Role:

  • Overall project responsibility: project coordinator/manager (PM) and principal investigator (PI).
  • Administrative tasks: generally PM, who keeps paperwork done, and keeps in contact with all other project heads to make sure things are operating appropriately.
  • Technical tasks: lead programmer, who delegates technical work.
  • Website tasks: web developer.
  • Content tasks: typically PI, with holistic and intellectual vision. May delegate specialized tasks if necessary.
  • Financial Tasks: business manager, who assists you in handling financial documents and record keeping, as well as hiring (as in graduate lab assistants).

Common Errors in Work Plans:

  • making them too broad.
  • making them too specific (so they are constantly changing).
  • underestimating the value of a communications plan.

Goal of work plan: Don’t overwhelm yourself or team members, but also don’t leave project members wondering what’s going to be happening or whose responsibility a task is. Remember to be realistic: it doesn’t help to write fiction.


From: Building Your First Work Plan