Archive for the ‘Winter 2010’ Category

SEEN AND NOTED

Seen and Noted

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Do your admissions numbers stack up to competitors?

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

An unfortunate flaw

Friday, January 1st, 2010

An unfortunate flaw I finally replaced my 10-year-old ailing Honda CRV with a brand-new Acura RDX. The styling of the car is sleek inside and out. I admire the attention the designers paid to details like the inside console panel, which features beautifully styled climate controls, well-lit gauges in blue and white, and metallic trim that accents the high-tech look.

Unfortunately, there is a flaw—the navigation screen display (shown above) is a six-inch rectangle of clunky digital type smack in the middle of the console. It reminds me of some college websites and viewbooks that exhibit one jarring, disharmonious note in an otherwise well-balanced design. Making compromises in design is painful. There are times when we reluctantly water-down a design for political reasons, or for lack of time or budget. We hope that no one else will notice, but to us, the flaw is a constant reminder of circumstances beyond our control that compromise the quality of the final product. We can console ourselves with the fact that there is so much to love about the rest of the design. After all, I still chose the RDX in spite of its one unfortunate blemish.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Sicilian journal

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Sicilian journal I brought my camera along on a recent trip to Sicily. Here are a few photos of the trip with comments from a designer/marketer’s perspective (all photos by Domenica unless noted otherwise):

A wonderful marketing strategy. The artist/shopkeeper works on her craft while visitors browse through her store. Seeing the artist at work personalizes the experience for visitors. I could not resist buying a small plate from her, and I have a feeling many visitors to this store have a similar reaction.

An incongruous moment in Palermo. Does the shopkeeper realize that the bright blue plastic chair steals the scene on his showroom floor? (Photo by Grace Weitman)

Timeless beauty. It is easy to miss this Roman inscription tucked away in a narrow side street in the seaside town of Cefalu. The letterforms have a timeless beauty. Will any of the typography we use today endure so long?

Clever recycling. Bedsprings make dandy fencing around a Sicilian garden.

Italian smile. A classic Vespa gives the world a smile.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Good Inn Tension

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Good Inn Tension On a recent business trip to St. Louis, I experienced a hotel marketing idea with a mixed message. As my taxi arrived at the upscale inn, two handsome men in uniform greeted me at the door and offered to help me with my bags. Check in was quick, and I was impressed and pleased with the room accommodations. There was even a small, carefully packaged pink satchel on the bed stuffed with things for me to use during my stay. As I pored through the contents of the satchel—earplugs, scented spray, eye mask—I became uneasy. Would my room be noisy, smelly, and too bright? I’m sure the hotel had expected me to feel pampered, but their pretty pink satchel made me feel apprehensive instead. The lesson learned? Good intentions are not enough. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. It’s an easy way to test whether or not you’re sending out mixed messages.

Contributed by Brenda

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Sometimes low tech is high efficiency

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Sometimes low tech is high efficiency  One of our printers prefers to track job flow with a very low-tech system: a job board with hand-written index cards that can be manually moved and re-ordered when necessary. Staff members prefer the board to tracking software, even though the rest of the shop uses nothing but the latest in printing software and technology. In their experience, the index-card system simply works best. Is it dangerous to suggest that new is not always better and that some things are fine just as they are?

Recently I replaced my toaster oven because I got tired of waiting around all morning to brown a slice of bread. My new toaster oven looked great with a stainless steel cabinet and industrial style handle and glass window. I was shocked to discover that it performed as poorly as the old one. Why can’t they make toasters like the one my mom had over 30 years ago? That baby was sweet and quick and worked flawlessly for decades. It’s fine to be dazzled by the gleam of the new, but everything that shines is not always better.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

It’s okay to be crabby, hon

Friday, January 1st, 2010

It’s okay to be crabby, hon  I saw this cab on my way in to work one day and wondered why any company would want to describe itself as “crabby.” Wouldn’t that be a marketing disaster? Then I realized why it’s acceptable…because we’re in Baltimore, hon, and we have cornered the market on crabby. Just don’t try this in New York City.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Audience participation required

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Audience participation required  Meryl Streep graces the January cover of Vanity Fair, proving the obvious: you can’t pin an age on star power. In an industry that has historically ignored middle-aged actresses and their fans, 60-year-old Streep has enjoyed starring roles in several wildly popular movies. As the article states, “Streep’s success has forced Hollywood to consider a startling hypothesis: If you make movies that actually interest women, they will buy tickets to see them.”

We see a parallel with alumni magazines. Clients often lament that readership is down and wonder if they should discontinue the publication. Perhaps it’s time to walk a mile in readers’ shoes. Stop writing about the things that interest the institution and start writing about the things that interest your audience. Give your readers reasons to be proud. Remind them of your institution’s value to the world and, like Hollywood, you may be surprised to rediscover the obvious—if you respect the needs of your alumni, they’ll respond with enthusiastic support.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Controlling the conversation

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Controlling the conversation  NPR recently aired a story about 18-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, who has a global fan base. No, he’s not a musician, a model, or an actor—he’s a convicted felon who has a knack for escaping captivity and eluding capture. And even though he has stolen from many people, he has a following of fans around the world. Harris-Moore himself seems to have exerted no effort toward growing his own popularity, but his Facebook fan page boasts over 17,000 members.

Harris-Moore has an intriguing story that has taken on a life of its own. Just think what your institution could do with social media if you took control of the conversation should an unfortunate event happen on campus. Negative stories are going to get out. If there’s a robbery on campus, everyone will be talking. But if, through social media, you focus the buzz on what the institution is doing to address safety concerns, you could show that the security situation is improving, rather than degenerating. If a villain like Harris-Moore can be made a hero, then surely your university’s image does not need to be another victim when bad things happen.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

But wait…don’t order yet!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

But wait…don’t order yet!  What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Snuggie? For most people, it’s “I hate that commercial for those shapeless bags with arm holes!” In spite of the annoying ads, who received a Snuggie for the holidays this year? Could the Snuggie be a really good idea in disguise? Sure, it’s dumpy, but it’s comfortable and it really keeps you warm. Who says you should only wear the Snuggie while curled up on the living room sofa? Why not throw style to the wind and get cozy in that drafty office? Or go on a popular Snuggie pub crawl with other blanket-wearing fans?

FEATURE : A Conversation with Sean Carton—New-Technology Expert

A Conversation with Sean Carton—New-Technology Expert

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Sean Carton was the founder of one of Baltimore’s first web development firms in 1995, the founding Dean of the School of Design and Media at Philadelphia University, and the co-author of one of the first books about the Web (The Mosaic Quick Tour series) in 1993. Sean has over 15 years experience designing, developing, planning, and executing interactive media. He has published eight books about the Internet, technology, business, and video games. He also writes regular columns for ClickZ.com and Publish.com as well as contributing to magazines such as Wired, Revolution, Stim, and POV. Sean is a sought-after public speaker on issues of marketing, technology, and the Internet and has delivered keynote addresses to organizations such as EduWeb, EDUCAUSE, the Florida Telecommunications Industry Association, and the American Marketing Association in the US (as well as to organizations in Italy and the UK).

What elements make a good educational website?

“The number one aspect of a good educational website is purpose. The worst thing a site can do is try to serve everyone, because then the site becomes a giant mess. When everyone can have a link on the homepage, it gets out of control very quickly. It’s self-defeating and confusing.

“Most colleges and universities have separated the IT department from website development. Now site development is in communications or advancement—which is where it belongs. A website is a communications tool, not a technology toy. It’s no longer about technology working; instead, it’s about what the technology can do for you.

“I took US News & World Report and reviewed the top 15 websites, and most schools within the universities look completely different from the homepage—especially the library. I was surprised to find that everybody’s library does this. There is very little integrated marketing.”

What role should non-electronic media play?

“Different media have different emotional impacts. I always ask people, “When is the last time a website made you cry?” Not many people can answer that. But people often cry at the movies. There is a place for film: more people go to the movies now than ever, and it’s an emotional experience. Being in the theater is part of the experience as well.

“There’s also something that print does that we can’t replicate online. There’s a physical object imparting the information. There is a place for the viewbook: maybe it’s the place for an emotional statement rather than the informational place where you cram everything. I’ve always admired the University of Baltimore viewbook. It set an emotional tone and drove students to the web for details and information.”

Where will the new craze of online communities take us?

“As more people go to college part time, online communities can help them feel some connection to the place. Through social media, the non-traditional student can find ways to connect with friends other than on campus. Facebook may be an answer, but by the time an institution sets up a Facebook page a student has usually beaten them to the punch.”

What’s “hot” and what’s not?

“Mobile applications are hot right now. Applications that can locate you are interesting. Some social media apps for the iPhone allow you to see where your friends are in the city at any time, allowing you to set up meetings or know your friend is right around the corner. Everyone is constantly available.

“Also hot in the mobile realm are augmented reality technologies where you look through your phone as it overlays data. For example, if you have a storefront, you can build a homepage where a person can point a phone and see what the specials are, what you sell, etc., overlaid with the real-world store. For tourism, these technologies allow visitors to go to historical sites, point their phones, and find out information about the location. Imagine being able to point your phone to a building on campus and learn that it holds the admissions office, as well as who is in the building and their phone numbers.”

FEATURE : Lifting Hearts

Lifting Hearts

Friday, January 1st, 2010

GCF recently completed a president’s report for Misericordia University to, among other objectives, celebrate the successful conclusion of their recent capital campaign. GCF began working with the university in 2004 at the start of their $15 million campaign. We developed the campaign theme, campaign logo, and fundraising materials. Over the next few years, fundraising exceeded the campaign goal by nearly 30%, allowing the university to build the Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall with classrooms, a café, an art gallery, a technology research institute, an ensemble hall, and music teaching studios.

A series of active key words on the cover of the president’s report describes the campaign’s impact on living and learning on campus. The title “Lifting Hearts” grew from the campaign themeline, “Leading from the Heart.” (The name Misericordia means “Heart of Mercy.”) Focusing the cover imagery on the sky underscores the uplifting pride students and faculty alike experienced as a result of the campus-wide improvements.

NOTEWORTHY

Head games

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Head games  Like any other power tool, our brains work best when we keep them sharp. Playing computer games is one way to hone our thinking skills so we stay more alert and ready for action. Studies show that regular game playing improves cognitive powers, manual dexterity, language function, and attention span. So take a coffee break and re-energize your brain so you can better tackle that next creative project. Here are a few fun ways to get started:
Fly Swat
Circle the Cat
Simon

NOTEWORTHY

Just the facts

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Just the facts  The average teen sends 2,272 text messages a month. Dell claims to have made $3 million from Twitter posts since 2007. The mobile device will be the world’s primary connection tool to the Internet in 2020. See more mind-blowing facts about digital media and the implications for marketing in this presentation by educators Scott McLeod, Jeff Brenman, and Karl Fisch. (This version was released in September 2009, but the original came out in 2008.)

Need more stats? Check out the results of the most recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey. The survey gathered data about the daily Internet and cell phone habits of over 2,000 American adults. (Click here if you do not see the video above.)

NOTEWORTHY

Lost and found

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Lost and found  Did you hear about the couple whose GPS-enabled cell phone led them down a snowy forest service road, where they were stuck for three days? Luckily, the same cell phone finally alerted rescue teams to their whereabouts. Just a reminder that sometimes, you should pay more attention to your instincts than your electronic devices. Common sense should have told the pair that the shortest route might not be the safest.

NOTEWORTHY

Considering buying an iPad?

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Considering buying an iPad?  You may want to wait a bit before you acquire yet another gadget. Software programs like Blio allow users to download books and read them on their device of choice, whether it be an iPhone, laptop, desktop, or electronic reader like Kindle. Blio, a free eReader program that will supposedly be available in February, grants access to more than a million electronic books. Publishers like Blio because it preserves the graphics and layout of the original text. Blio also gives users the ability to highlight and annotate text, hear the text read aloud, and more. It also can support embedded multimedia such as video and audio.

COOL TOOLS

Cool Tools

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Font self-help
Designing a web page? You’ll want to make sure your text is readable. These 47 Typography Tools for Web Design can help you edit, preview, and compare fonts.

Typeface selection and pairing—online
As more and more fonts become available for use in web design, designers will need more help choosing readable typefaces that convey a message. But remember this: “Just because you can use the font that looks like it’s wearing bellbottoms, doesn’t mean you should.“

Google to the fourth power
If you’ve ever wanted to compare four websites in the same window, now you can. Go to googlegooglegooglegoogle.com, and you get four independent Google windows that can all be used separately. If you type that same URL into one of those boxes, you get four more. You can see at a glance how your homepage compares to others!

CLICK-ALICIOUS

Click-alicious

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Need a fresh photographic eye on campus? [ o ] Bill Denison is one of the best!

Save your favorite art stuff—and see others’ faves—at FavSav.

Time, Inc., and the Wonderfactory plan to bring us interactive magazines in the very near future. Check out this demonstration of how it will change your Sports Illustrated experience, for example. (Click here if you do not see the video above.)

Check out these extraordinary works of art, made entirely of paper.

Mystery Google takes you to the search results for the user who searched just before you.

Every font has a different look and personality, each with its own unique characteristics and purposes. If transformed into people, perhaps this is how they would look and act.

JUST FOR FUN

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

Just For Fun

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Your personality determines what typeface you are.

A holiday greeting done right.

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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