Pride and Publicity

As a 21st-century Catholic, I struggle with the concept of pride as one of the seven deadly sins. Sure, I understand the Bible verses and lessons, but they’re hard to reconcile in a time when children are praised for everything and adults are urged to aggressively market their successes in order to stay ahead in the workplace.

Somehow, I can connect all of this to last week’s AAUP annual meeting, my first time at the congregation for the university press community (see my other blog post on this professional milestone).

As I sit at my desk each day, I like to think that I come up with pretty good ideas for publicity and marketing. Sometimes people tell me they like my ideas. Sometimes I just tell myself that I came up with a new and interesting strategy. That’s a sin of pride, I guess, but it makes me feel better.

Then I go to AAUP and see colleagues from other presses giving presentations, and something very strange happens. I realize that they have the same ideas that I have. They are exploring uses of new media in the same ways that I am. They like to take chances without any guarantee of success just to see what they can learn.

I basically wasted all that pride. I thought I had all these unique ideas, but really I had much in common with people in jobs similar to mine.

However, I didn’t leave the AAUP meeting with this as a negative thought. I realized that I don’t stand alone in trying to find creative ways to interest people in the content of our journals. I’m not the only one looking to video, audio, and other technologies as an outlet for my ideas. I fit in perfectly.

That’s where I find the value in meetings like AAUP. I can find others doing pretty much the same thing I do, but the nuances in our approaches can inform how each of us move forward after the meeting. I returned to my desk with the confidence that my ideas have some validation, but the knowledge that I can find new and different ways to explore those ideas.

I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself. And that’s nothing I plan on apologizing for.