Independent School Web-Based or Electronic HTML External Audience: Buckingham Browne & Nichols School - Gold Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 19c. Independent School Web-Based or Electronic HTML External Audience Periodicals
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
The Link
Gold Award

Joe Clifford
Director of Communications
Communications Office
80 Gerry's Landing Road
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 800-2404


Joe Clifford Director of Communications
Andrew Fletcher Senior Editor/Writer
Laura Levis Editor/Writer

The Link is an electronic, HTML-based newsletter that Buckingham Browne & Nichols posts eight times a year on the School’s external website ( The newsletter debuted in September 2007. The fifth issue was recently posted on March 1, 2008.

a.) Objectives

The objectives of the periodical are:

  1. To inform, educate, entertain, and inspire key stakeholders (current parents, prospective families, grandparents, alumni/ae, friends) about key events, programs, news, and taking place across the School’s 14 grades and three campuses.
  2. To do the above in as timely a fashion as possible.
  3. To give parents the tools they need to effectively manage their interface with the School. (BB&N is a day school with a parent body that is heavily invested in the daily life of the institution.)
  4. To offer our readers an “insider’s” view of the engagement of minds that occurs on each of the School’s three campuses.
  5. To more widely disseminate messages from key divisions of the School (e.g., Development Office; Parents’ Association) .
  6. To strike the appropriate balance between both ends of the equation that defines BB&N: Three Campuses, One School.
b.) Staffing

The three and a half staff members of BB&N’s Communications Office work on The Link. They are: Joe Clifford, director of communications; Andrew Fletcher, senior editor/writer; Laura Levis, editor/writer; and Alison McLane, part-time webmaster. These staffers handle all writing, editing, photography, and web publishing work affiliated with each issue of The Link.

c.) Audience

There are five distinct audiences for The Link:

  1. BB&N’s current parents;
  2. Current current grandparents and friends (past parents, trustees, donors, etc.);
  3. Prospective families;
  4. Alumni/ae;
  5. Everyone else on Planet Earth.

The diversity and the scope of these audiences were a significant driver behind moving from our previous model of a print newsletter to an electronic one. In previous years, our model had been publishing a print newsletter six times a year. Filled with great stuff about the School and its mission, I was troubled by the fact that parents were the only audience exposed to all this great information (budget prevented us from exposing it to any audience wider than that). Now, anyone who has an affiliation with the school (and a computer, of course) can be exposed to the life of the School -- the newsletter lives on the homepage of our School website and we also send our established constituents an email alert each time a new issue of The Link posts to the website.

d.) Frequency

Monthly during the academic year; 8 issues a year: September, October, November, December/January, February, March/April, May, and June.

e) Circulation

Not applicable

f) Average number of pages per issue

Not entirely applicable. There are, however, 14 “web pages” per issue of The Link, ranging from feature articles to interactive calendar pages. The pages are:

  • Index (homepage)
  • Spotlight Article
  • Inside the Classroom
  • Article1
  • Article2
  • Keeping You Up to Date
  • Calendar
  • Giving Update
  • PA-News
  • Campus Voices—Intro
  • Campus Voices—Lower
  • Campus Voices—Middle
  • Campus Voices—Upper
  • Campus Voices—All
g) Total Annual Budget (excluding postage & salaries)


h) Average Cost per Issue and Unit Cost

(*More precisely, there was a one-time cost incurred to design the template(s) for the site in the previous fiscal year, May 2007. We worked with the design firm, Corey McPherson Nash to develop these. If this cost is amortized over the first year of The Link, then the cost per issue = $1,250.)

i.) Response & Results

The Link has enjoyed a very successful first year:

  • Our readers are getting great content in a substantially timelier fashion than in years past, when we published a print newsletter. Last year, for instance, coverage of Giving Thanks Day—an important late-November event for the Middle School—reached parents on February 1. This year, with The Link, parents read about the event on December 1. Not only that, whereas last year they could view one representative shot of the event in the print newsletter, this year, they were able to link to a photo gallery containing 15 images of the event.
  • Value added: the “insider’s” view. Space and budget constraints with the print newsletter often limited us in our ability to expose our audiences to the spark that takes place every day in our classrooms. The Link features two sections—Inside the Classroom (reportorial feature coverage) and Campus Voices (1st-person letters from faculty & administrators)—that bring readers right up close with the core of BB&N’s mission: the intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and the art of teaching and learning that make up the BB&N academic experience. One Upper School parent wrote us in response to these sections of The Link, “Before, I used to drop my son off at school in the morning and that was the only insight I ever really had into the school. You know how teenagers are with ‘sharing.’ But now, I feel like I get a glimpse of what he’s experiencing every day, and it’s exciting.”
  • The Link has been an excellent facilitator for parents as they manage their daily and monthly interface with the School. The Calendar page is especially welcome by parents, as it lays for the month ahead all of the relevant events for families. When appropriate, the calendar entries will link to online registration pages. We have successfully used The Link as the sole forum for marketing certain School events. The PA-News page is also a key tool for parents, as it includes news and newsletters from the Parents’ Association. In addition, links to the most heavily trafficked pages on the School website are prominently displayed on the homepage of The Link.