Awards
Periodical Resources Management - Magazines: College of William and Mary - Bronze Medal

Category 24A: Periodical Resources Management: Magazines
College of William and Mary, Ideation

Contact: Lucinda Baker, director of publications, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, Phone: (757) 221-2632, e-mail: lhbake@wm.edu

Planning/Goals/Objectives of Ideation: The goal was to put together a vehicle that would redefine and mold the various perceptions of the research component of the College of Williams and Mary. Recognition of research activity at William and Mary is hampered by the college’s excellent reputation as an educational institution. More than one faculty member has told me stories about research grant applications being discouraged or rejected with the representative of the funding agency citing dismissive phraseology such as “William and Mary is a teaching institution…” Any vehicle should also depict the unusual research culture that has developed at William and Mary. Certainly, research here is conducted on a much smaller scale than at the nation’s research ‘powerhouses.’ Finally, we want to illustrate the extraordinarily high level of involvement of undergraduates in contributory research. By ‘contributory’ research, I mean work that advances the state of knowledge of science or society, in addition to that of the student. This undergraduate-involvement aspect is, of course, beneficial to the students involved, but it also creates a more cost-effective and efficient research environment and likely imbues each project with youthful enthusiasm and insight.

We considered a number of options, including various print and electronic approaches and decided on a magazine format as being familiar, versatile, and efficient.

Audience:

  • Elected state/regional officials and their staffs
  • Opinion leaders
  • Representatives of funding agencies
  • Media
  • Alumni/friends
  • Current William and Mary community: faculty, students, staff, administrators
  • Prospective faculty
  • Prospective students and related audiences: guidance counselors, teachers, parents. (Patents of prospective students have become a surprisingly important audience because of a happy set of circumstances: W&M’s campus is adjacent to the historical district of Colonial Williamsburg. Many families of college-bound high school students head for Williamsburg to do the “twofer” of touring the historic attractions coupled with a campus tour/interview. Copies of Ideation are in great demand by parents and others cooling their heels in the undergraduate admission reception area waiting for the tour to start or their student’s interview to finish.)

Staff: One editor/writer/photographer, one art director/designer, photographer, one staff photographer, one graphic artist, one graphic assistant/proofreader – and whatever writers on staff can be sweet-talked or coerced into contributing. All staff listed have other duties apart from producing Ideation. I, the editor, am director of research communications. My non-Ideation work includes media relations – news releases, pitching and developing stories in local, regional, and national media, responding to media, and writing for other campus media. (I spend roughly 100 percent of my time on non-Ideation duties; the magazine takes care of the other 100 percent.) For the other staff, Ideation is two more jobs each year on top of an already busy schedule and has been produced with no additional staff.

Production time is a life lesson in economics, that is to say, the allocation of scare resources. We are a versatile group and so everybody pitches in at crunch time. Lillian will write a caption. I will lay out a couple of department pages. Cindy runs out to take a photo. Teri keeps it all in some semblance of order. In calmer times, I do what I can to fill in gaps of human resources. I invest an afternoon in dealing with MS Word and Excel files to imbue a sense of order.

Circulation: 22,000 – 16,000 to 17,000 are mailed

Frequency: Twice a year (Spring and Fall)

Pages per issue: 32, with gusts up to 40

Budget: Ideation exits on air. There is no visible means of support and the magazine has no budget as such. I solicit (and am grateful for) contributions from academic officers to pay for printing and postage. I have commitments for another issue, the fourth – but beyond that, I’ll have to see.

Cost per issue: $13,295, unit cost: $.60.

Economies: Even in using a web press, it makes sense to think about a magazine in terms of 16-pages signatures – therefore, 32 pages is the “standard” Ideation. We did a 40 pager only after bidding it out at 32 pages and getting assurances from the winning bidder that we could afford it and we could afford it ONLY because we had a little carryover from a previous issue that escaped notice of the bean-counters. We also know that nothing drives up the cost like a cover printed on different-weight stock, so we always self-cover. We ask questions about “house” paper stocks and are always happy to save money for the college and Commonwealth by opting for a good house sheet.

Cost for mailing: We can mail a copy to more than 16,000 of the college’s stakeholders for around 90 cents each. This includes printing/postage/handling. Also includes purging of duplicates from the 18 Excel files that we use to make the list. Self-covered text weight format reduces mailing costs. Also, the time spent in compiling and parsing Excel lists of recipients pays off in lower mailing costs, because the more work done for the Post Office, the less you are charged.

Response/results: Please understand the issue enclosed is only the third Ideation produced. I believe through story selection and careful development and execution of concepts, we’ve done a good job of meeting our goals centering around what to depict. For instance, people love bird stories and I’ve managed to have one in each issue so far. I’ve also made a point to emphasize projects that involve undergraduate researchers, as well.

Is it working? Results are building, but the response has been good. Since we began the magazine, undergraduate admission has recorded two back-to-back record years of applications. How much credit should go to the magazine? Who knows? Ideation is not really devoted to alumni affairs or fundraising, but alumni (particularly major donors) are enthusiastic – they write and send e-mail saying so. Even so, Ideation production continues to be a juggling act and we’re not sure how long we can keep the balls in the air.