Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is It Worth Printing?

Whether to print school publications or not has become an old saw. The financial crisis has made fence sitters consider the question more urgently. Harvard recently announced an end to a print version of its course catalog and other publications. I'm not going to tell you whether you should print or not -- who you need to reach and how you need to reach them will dictate that. (Although I have written about this for CASE CURRENTS.) But if you do choose to print, make sure you're giving people something worth printing.

The Best Test
Will they want to keep it? Or is it a throwaway? I was reminded of this when I saw Lois Kelly's post about brag books. The post is about a real consumer product, but the series of books she mentions reminds me of the approach I try to take with viewbooks and case statements.

More than a Brochure
As I write these publications, I want to give people more than a "brochure." My goal is to give them a useful keepsake that tells the institution's story at the same time:
  • For Oglethorpe it was a how-to change the world guide and a collection of personalized maps to Atlanta.
  • For Chestnut Hill Academy it was separate how-to guides to middle school and high school.
  • For William Penn Charter School, the case statement was a series of four little books asking provocative, relevant questions like "How do you define success?" The series became extraordinarily popular. One alum requested copies to give to people at his church.

What I like about these publications and those I admire that others have done (get your hands on the Yale case statement if you can) is that they are highly successful in achieving their goals, but they also intrigue, inform, and entertain their readers. They strive to be worthy of the special institutions for which they have been created.

To print or not to print? There's more than cost to consider when you ask, "Is it worth it?"

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