Awards
Print External Audience Tabloids and Newsletters: Chapin School - Gold Medal

Category 21A: Print External Audience Tabloids and Newsletters
Chapin School, Chapin Today

Contact: Nicole Gesualdo, director of marketing and communications, 100 East End Ave., New York, NY 10028, Phone: (212) 570-5703, e-mail: gesualdo@chapin.edu

Objectives of the Publishing Program: Most Chapin parents, alumnae, grandparents and others don’t have the chance to see first-hand what students accomplish in class every day. We rely on our publications program to show them. The goal of our program, from the newsletter to the alumnae magazine to the annual report, is to capture the noteworthy things that happen as a combined result of student effort and community support. In recent years, our primary goal has been to make sure that every publication contributes to that overall publishing mission. We have made solid strides toward this goal: The topical theme of each alumnae magazine, which was once relevant only to alumnae careers, now features a strong link to the students’ curriculum. The annual report now does double-duty as a listing of our donors and a vehicle for highlighting student achievements, even the smaller “everyday victories.” And the Chapin Today newsletter, which is represented by this entry, was revised and refined in 2006 to present a more vibrant picture of what happens in Chapin’s classrooms throughout the year — offering parents, alumnae and grandparents that close look into the student world they wouldn’t otherwise get.

About Chapin Today: Chapin Today is a quarterly newsletter with an academic focus. As a result, its production requires a close connection between the director of marketing and communications and the faculty. We work with department heads and senior teachers to find out what they believe are the most important lessons taking place within the building. We strive to represent all class years and to offer a mix of news from the humanities and the sciences, the social sciences and the arts, and physical education and athletics. Chapin Today is our best avenue to present Chapin as a whole, reflecting the broad-based liberal-arts approach the school takes to education.

Each issue focuses on one major topic, which can be found in the extended feature and photo essay in the center spread. We also seek a mix of different formats, from narrative-style articles to actual reproductions of assignments and projects that students complete.

All Chapin Today writing, and about 95 percent of the photography, is done in-house. (The only exceptions are photographs from certain school events, such as graduation, that are given to us by contract photographers.) The publication is also edited and designed in-house, based on a square, four-color template created this year by the director of marketing and communications. We have a contract with a New Jersey-based printer for this publication, and the company is able to produce solid print quality for a price that we can afford, considering our recent move to the four-color format. When it comes to print quality, we place a priority on how well our photographs reproduce, because Chapin Today is many readers’ only opportunity to see what a school day actually looks like.

Audience: The audience includes Chapin’s entire constituency of 7,700, and the newsletter is written to appeal equally to parents, alumnae, former parents, grandparents, donors, and friends of the school. As a result, the content is chosen to be as specific and illustrative as possible, and it takes varied forms. There are reported stories from classroom lessons and activities. There are actual examples of student work, either typed in or scanned in, but left in the students’ own hand and original format whenever possible. There are scenes from alumnae life, showing how graduates continue to figure into the daily fabric of the school. And, just for fun, there are always brief games and quizzes on the back page that allow readers to test their knowledge of and familiarity with Chapin.

Chapin Today and the School Mission: Chapin’s mission is “to prepare young women to thrive and lead in an increasingly complex world through the pursuit of academic excellence, personal integrity, and community responsibility.” Chapin Today is our primary vehicle for proving, through specific and illustrated examples, that the school is meeting that goal. We show our commitment to academic excellence through articles about, for instance, a student’s scientific investigation of peanut and sesame allergies, or one class’s exploration of the financial world. We demonstrate how personal integrity shows up in the curriculum by writing about our “life skills” program and by profiling coursework, such as a recent Class 6 play, that teaches students how to relate to one another in healthy, responsible ways. Community responsibility easily surfaces in articles about community service, which is performed not only by students, but also individually by faculty members and alumnae.

Budget: It costs about $5,280 to produce a single issue of Chapin Today, for a total annual cost of $21,120. As requested, this figure does not include mailing costs. The total circulation is about 7,700, which results in a unit cost of $0.69.

Staffing: An in-house staff of two produces this publication. The director of marketing and communications selects the topics, assigns the stories, writes about half the copy and takes about half the photographs. The communications assistant provides the other half of the copy and the remaining photographs. (In addition, the editorial associate and the director of archives become involved as copy-editors.) The communications staff invites faculty and students to contribute to Chapin Today when their schedules allow, but we are careful to only ask when it would not infringe on their regular academic work.

Response and Results: We evaluate the effectiveness of Chapin Today by talking as much as possible with faculty and staff, parents, alumnae, and others to see what they think about the newsletter’s content and presentation. We also show each issue to the school archivist before it’s published to get her opinion on how well it reflects the school, its history and the ongoing needs of its community. The director of marketing and communications sends an e-mail to all faculty when a new issue is published, inviting their feedback and ideas for future editions, and all members of the development staff seek out people in the school community at Chapin events to find out what they think of the ways in which we communicate with them, including Chapin Today. For example, we recently redesigned this newsletter’s presentation to give it a fresher look that brings out the vibrancy of student life and also coordinates better with the school’s brand. We have not been able to commission a formal survey of our constituents’ opinions about the newsletter, due to cost constraints, but would consider doing so in the future if resources allow.