Result: With its new recruiting materials, Emory University’s Graduate School gets its message across to prospective students before they even start reading.
The client’s need: The Graduate School was ready for a periodic update of its recruiting package. The school wanted materials that would help it attract more applicants and get a better rate of enrollment from high-caliber applicants who were accepted to its programs. The graduate school has grown dramatically in the past decade, and admissions officials wanted to make prospective students – as well as faculty at peer institutions, who often advise undergraduates on graduate programs to consider – aware of the breadth and quality of graduate programs now available at Emory.
How we did it: We were well into designing the package when we realized there was a disconnect between the school’s forward-thinking core message – “create new knowledge” – and the conventional system we were creating. The school’s brand emphasizes invention and a departure from doing what’s been done before, yet we were developing a collateral system no different from most others.
So we did what some might consider the unthinkable. Even though we had already won approval for our design from all levels of the Emory hierarchy, we went back to the client and suggested reworking the entire project.
Our new system architecture had a small, simple overview brochure about the university, a single sheet highlighting each program of study, and a CD that fit onto a foam dot in the brochure.
Ulf Nilsson, director of communications for the graduate school, quickly put to rest our concerns about changing direction late in the process. “This is why we hired you,” he said. “Because you would never settle for the status quo if there was a better way.”
And we firmly believe the new system is a better way. It demonstrates the attributes of ingenuity and innovation that Emory is claiming as core values and will better meet the school’s objectives.
Recruits receive the general brochure and CD, plus a sheet for any program in which they expressed interest. It’s a small package with only a few pages, which fits nicely with Emory’s emphasis on being good stewards of the environment. In fact, the brochure is so minimal, it created the opportunity to talk in the brochure about Emory’s environmental consciousness, which is a selling point to Emory’s target demographic.
The CD uses Macromedia Flash to present basic content on each of the 40 programs of graduate study at Emory. This basic information links to PDF documents with more details on each program. A bonus of the new architecture was that the PDFs had room for far more information than the printed brochures in our original concept.
The CD also contains live Web links to resources relevant to each specific program, from housing information to academic centers to museums, both at Emory and beyond. These links not only connect prospects to information they need, but also highlight the vast offerings on campus and in Atlanta.
In a traditional recruiting package, a recruit would see information about only the one or two programs they mentioned when they contacted the university. But because the CD contains complete information on all 40 programs of study, students can peruse everything that’s offered and may discover other related programs of study that interest them.
Finally, we suggested that the school print the CDs quarterly so that the program PDFs can be updated with the latest information. This, too, is a significant advantage over a traditional system, where schools print huge quantities of their brochures. In the conventional approach, the admissions office has to store the inventory of printed materials, the brochures become outdated (but they’re used anyway because it costs too much to reprint them), and vast overages end up being thrown away when the whole package is revamped and reprinted several years later. In our system, the information that changes the most is contained in PDFs, which can be updated frequently and at virtually no cost.
The graduate school was so pleased with our CD, they reproduced the content on the school’s Web site, bringing consistency to prospective students’ experience with Emory.
In the client’s words: “The people at Point of Vision listen really well. They also talk back a little bit, in the sense that they really grapple with what we tell them, and they come back to us with some different ideas than what we were thinking. That results in some really helpful discussions.”