Archive for the ‘Spring 2009’ Category

SEEN AND NOTED

Seen and Noted

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Spring is in the air! The evidence is here, there, and everywhere.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Where’s the love?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Where’s the love?  The first love poem was written on a cuneiform tablet around 2030 BC, and we’ve been writing tales of romance, passion, and star-crossed lovers ever since. From the story of Ruth to Romeo and Juliet to Love Story, the theme endures. If we can write about one subject for over 4,000 years, why is it so hard to say something new about getting a good college education? How many times have we heard universities tout“faculty who really care about each individual student,” “dynamic and rigorous academics,” and “warm, caring campus communities”? The repetition is unconvincing and tiresome. The challenge for educational communicators—not to mention poets and novelists—is to find fresh, unexpected ways to explore a familiar topic. That’s the way to make your website and print materials stand out from the crowd, and your readers will love you for it.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Punctuation is important. Period.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Punctuation is important. Period.  Periods, commas, and hyphens matter. Surfing the internet, we stumbled upon this powerful demonstration of what can go wrong when you misuse these small things in life:

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy—will you let me be yours?
Gloria

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Gloria

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Yellow and white dinosaurs on my porch.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Yellow and white dinosaurs on my porch. I came home a few days ago to find that the phone company had delivered two new bulky directories to my front door. My first reaction was, oh rats—more recycling! You see, I don’t use phone books anymore. I can’t remember the last time I actually thumbed through one. If we are really concerned about protecting the environment, we need to rethink the production and distribution of a product that will largely end up in the next trash/recycling pick up. Why not make phone books an opt-in product? The phone companies could send a letter to all customers asking them whether or not they wish to continue receiving their directories. That way, the books will only go to those customers who still use them. Trees will be saved, energy will be conserved, and the environment will be better protected.

FEATURE : Mining for Stories

Mining for Stories

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Throughout history, humans have collected objects: tools to help them in their daily survival, talismans believed to have magical powers, works of art, discarded pieces that tell the history of a lost civilization. Consider the following anecdote. On his way to work, a friend of mine glanced on the ground and saw a broken penny. He picked it up to examine it more closely and without much thought, he decided to keep his find. Several months later, the same friend was crossing an intersection in downtown Baltimore when a glint of copper caught his eye. He reached out and whisked the object off the ground while hurrying to the curb. Examining it more closely, he realized that he had found the missing piece of the penny he had collected several months before. As he joined the coin together, my friend saw that the missing half contained the phrase, “In God We Trust.” Suddenly, the penny took on added significance and raised new questions about the previous owner. Who tore the penny apart? Why did he do it? How did he do it? Was this a response to a personal crisis?

Sometimes, we can only speculate about the narratives behind an object. Several years ago I bought a vellum-bound prayer book dating to 1720. The first few pages have burn marks on the edges. I imagine that the book’s original owner was a priest who was reading by candlelight. Perhaps he dozed off and was startled awake by the smell of burning paper. I picture him beating out the flames, closing the book, and going back to sleep. The book carries the evidence of that simple scene into the present day. All we need to do is look and imagine.

Not long ago, I was doing research in the archives at Frostburg State University in preparation for their upcoming capital campaign. My colleagues and I came across several old ledger books that recorded early donations to the University. As I read through the list, I was surprised to see hundreds of nickel, dime, and quarter donations. The ledgers were a record of the small sacrifices of the FSU community—many of them hard-working coal miners—who dreamed of a better life for their children. Inspired, we realized that this powerful story should be told in the campaign case statement.

What stories are waiting in your college archives to be told? Is there a tree, a stone, or a bench in a forgotten corner of campus that preserves a powerful story? Take a look around. You might be surprised what treasures you discover.

Contributed by Domenica

FEATURE : A+ School, A+ Education

A+ School, A+ Education

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Mary Louis Academy is a college-preparatory high school for girls in Jamaica Estates, New York. Founded in 1936, TMLA is a vibrant institution that offers rigorous academics in the Catholic tradition while welcoming students of different cultures and faith traditions.

Although the school possesses many admirable accomplishments and attributes, it faces some formidable challenges as well. The relevance of an all-girls school is constantly brought into question as the numbers of such institutions dwindle and competition for academically talented female students increases.

GCF developed print admissions materials and an institutional website for TMLA to emphasize its reputation for dedicated leaders, academic rigor, outstanding facilities, and committed students. The new admissions logo, TMLA+, is used in combination with key words to emphasize excellence on multiple levels–TMLA+ Academics, TMLA+ Facilities, TMLA+ Athletics, etc.

“The pieces are in their first full year of use,” says Rita Piro, Coordinator of Special Projects at TMLA, “and comments from parents, alumnae, students, and administrators are enormously positive. A team of recruiters travels among 200 feeder schools within our area for individual high school recruitment fairs, and at each and every location, prospective applicant families were instantly drawn to our materials, noting the professional presentation. More than just a few offered the same comparison, ‘An A+ school with an A+ book.’”

NOTEWORTHY

Written in the clouds.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Written in the clouds. Word clouds are a popular way to visualize tags online. I first noticed word clouds on Flickr, a social networking site for photographers and photography. Flickr word or tag clouds allow you to see the content of any particular photographer’s posted photos. Now there’s a website, Wordle.net , that allows you to paste any word document into a window and’voilá the site translates the text into a word cloud that is surprisingly revealing about the overall content of the document. Above shows what our last issue of Cram looked like.

NOTEWORTHY

Ads on YouTube.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Ads on YouTube.  Have you ever noticed the ads that pop up while you’re trying to watch a two-minute video on YouTube? Although YouTube has made the viewing screen larger, viewers still lose precious real estate to the ads. And, you have to take your mind off what you’re watching to close out the ad window when they give you the option. Isn’t there a better way to catch viewers’ attention without ruining the video?

NOTEWORTHY

Brought to you by the letter F.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Brought to you by the letter F.  A recent study by the Nielson Norman Group found that most users scan websites in an “F” pattern: two horizontal swipes followed by a vertical sweep down the page. This is a very different way of absorbing information than reading print, and additional evidence that your website must be more than just “print online.”

NOTEWORTHY

Four things to know before printing your next job

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Four things to know before printing your next job  If you need to put ink on paper, be sure to consider the following ways to cut costs:

House sheets  Paper accounts for about 30% of the cost of a print job, so it’s a good place to start when considering the cost of a job. Most printers have a “house sheet” that they get at a discount rate because they order it in large quantities. Using a house sheet can save time, money, and potential problems because it is used regularly at the plant and the presses and ink are set up for it.

Final size Plan the final size of your piece to fit as many pages as possible on one press sheet with minimal paper waste. If your printer has a 40″ press, 28″x40″ sheets are available. With an 8.5″x11″ trim size, you can print one 16-page book, two 8-page books, four 4-page books, or eight single- or double-sided pages from a single sheet of paper. If you are designing an oddly sized job, get quotes from several printers—one may be able to do the job more efficiently than another. To eliminate additional mailing costs, avoid designing square or almost square pieces: the postal service charges a considerable per-piece surcharge for square designs because these are not machinable.

Make friends with the post office  Always check with the post office prior to finalizing your design to make sure your piece will mail economically. The post office has a Mailpiece Design Analyst on staff who can help you. Send a pdf of your design for approval and take a paper dummy to the post office to get actual mailing costs. You can find an analyst at this website. You will get the name, phone number, and email address of the person to contact for help.

Digital vs offset  Depending on the quantity, digital printing may be a cost-effective alternative to traditional printing. Digital gives you the added benefit of 4-color printing at no extra cost. Your mailing can be personalized from a database to print individualized copies at a reasonable cost. Use caution, however, when digitally printing stationery items. Currently, only high-end digital presses can print envelopes, and most ink from digital printing cannot be put through a laser printer. Although it’s not currently cost effective to print high quantities digitally, keep checking. This technology is rapidly changing and continually getting better, faster, and cheaper.

NOTEWORTHY

If Gutenberg invented the Internet

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

If Gutenberg invented the Internet  What would our world be like if electronic media had been invented before printing? Just picture it for a moment. All of us are happily tapping away on our computers when a new technology suddenly debuts—ink on paper! How would the tweets and blogs and links read? “Ink on paper is wireless and requires no electricity or power source!” “It’s completely democratic—everyone sees exactly the same font and the same colors, in the same size and format!” “It’s remarkably portable, sensuously tactile, and photos reproduce beautifully. You can even add scents to the ink and smell what you read!”

This fantasy reminds me that we’ve come a long way in the information technology revolution. The advantages to online information are enormous, but have we lost anything along the way? I thought about this recently when I was looking through the book Outskirts, a photographic essay by Todd Hido. The book is an extra-large 12″x18″ format. There is one photo per page, and each photo is reproduced with such gorgeous detail that the effect is almost magical. I realized that the extraordinary power of these photos would be lost on my laptop monitor. This is not the only case where print still outperforms the screen. For example, sometimes it’s faster and easier to flip through the pages of a printed book for information than it is to click through the same book online. Even in the middle of the technology revolution, Gutenberg’s idea still has its place.

NOTEWORTHY

Desperate measures

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Desperate measures  I recently took a flight to California and noticed that the airline had ramped up its profit-making efforts. There was a charge for every service and an ad on every printable surface. I felt like a hostage—strapped in with my seatbelt securely fastened—unable to escape the barrage of attempts to get into my wallet. These desperate revenue-raising measures suggest that air travel is an ailing industry.

When economic times are tough, the best practice is to exude optimism and confidence. Doing so reassures your audience that things are under control and all is well with your institution. Don’t succumb to the temptation to “oversell” your institution. Avoid cluttering your website’s homepage with sunburst graphics displaying your US News rankings next to boxes asking for gifts to the annual fund on top of flashing icons seeking participation in the latest, greatest capital campaign. According to The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Reis and Trout, owning a word in the prospect’s mind is the most powerful concept in marketing. However, you don’t want to own the words “desperate” or “needy.”

COOL TOOLS

Cool Tools

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Photo archives available through Google!
Peruse tons of interesting images in LIFE magazine’s photo archives.

Create your own font.
Tired of searching for that perfect font that truly emulates human handwriting? Here’s a tool that will help you create your own handwriting font.

Model anything you can imagine.
Redecorate your office or room, design and build a car, or create a diagram that allows people to visually see whatever it is you’re proposing. Google SketchUp is a program that allows you to create 3D models of anything you like.

Don’t miss these fantastic features:
1. Push/Pull Tool. Take any flat surface and extrude it into a three-dimensional form.
2. Instructor dialog box. You can activate it at any time to receive context-sensitive help.
3. Look Around and Walk. You can walk around and into the model to get a first-person view. You can even climb and descend stairs and ramps.

Once you’ve created your model, you can export it as an animation and share it on YouTube, or export it as an image for your Powerpoint presentation. If you’re stuck on something to build, you can check out everyone else’s models in the Google 3D Warehouse.

CLICK-ALICIOUS

Click-alicious

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Fun and/or informative links for the discerning info-snacker.

Creative juices running low? Try this new-fangled design company naming machine to help you name your company.

Create any word out of symbols, letters, and numbers with the Text Ascii Art Generator.

Celebrate curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at some great ideas. Check out the SEED—The University in ’09.

For all of you who really do judge a book by its cover, here’s a safe place to practice.

Tagging the universe never got easier. What will you tag today?

Are you tired of trying to make sense of things? Then it’s time to get lost in translation.

JUST FOR FUN

Fun and/or informative links for the discerning info-snacker.

Just For Fun

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Need your computer screen cleaned? Click here.

FEEDBACK

Do you have comments, questions, or story ideas that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming issue of the Cram Quarterly? If so, email Brenda or call her at 410-467-4672.

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