Publications Program Improvement: North Shore Country Day School - Silver Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 29. Publications Program Improvement
North Shore Country Day School
Admissions Publications
Silver Award

Tura Cottingham
Director of Marketing & Communications
Marketing & Communications
310 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL 60093


Tura Cottingham writer, editor and art director
The Grillo Group designer
Tony Armour photographer
Art Jessen Photographer

Components of the program submitted:
  • Lower School Viewbook
  • Middle School Viewbook
  • Upper School Viewbook
  • Faculty Profiles book
  • Performing and Visual Arts Calendar
  • 7 Reasons brochure
a. Objectives:

The objectives of the publications program at North Shore are to:

  • Highlight the strengths of the school that set us apart from our competition
  • Give prospective families a realistic “look” at the school before they set foot on campus
  • Motivate prospective families to call for more information, and hopefully schedule a visit
  • Increase applications
Mission Statement

North Shore Country Day School is a JK-12 community rooted in tradition that challenges each member to develop a passion for active, life-long learning and respect for others. Committed to academic excellence, the partnership of students, faculty, parents and alumni fosters intellectually curious, independent and critical thinkers. We embrace diversity, knowing we are enriched by different backgrounds, voices and talents. The full participation of each student in academics, athletics, arts and activities is a core value. We develop self-confident, ethical citizens of the world who embody our motto, “Live and Serve.”

b. Staffing:

The Marketing and Communications staff at North Shore consists of two part-time (75% time) positions.

  • The Director of Marketing and Communications is responsible for overseeing all print publications, advertising, press relations, website (both public and internal), community relations, email communication with current parents, and daily photography needs.
  • The Portal Manager and Photographer also is 75% time and is responsible for updating the portal and website daily and taking photos.

Outside design services are provided through several graphic designers. A professional photographer is hired once a year to take updated photos of students in the classroom, engaging with teachers and participating in activities.

c. Audience:

The audience for the pieces submitted is prospective families. The Upper School book was written to appeal to prospective students as much as parents, knowing that in most families the student plays a big role in making the decision on which school he or she wants to attend.

The Middle School and Lower School pieces were written so that if a parent wanted to share the viewbook with their child the book would appeal to them. For example, the Lower School book is oversized and reminiscent of a picture book format with large photos.

In addition, we distributed the new materials to all current parents knowing that they are our best ambassadors. It was also our hope that these new materials would give current parents a sense of pride in their school.

d. Reason for and impact of new format

The reasons for the new format was that every three years the school issues new viewbooks. The Faculty Profiles, 7 Reasons brochure and Arts Calendar are annual publications. 2007 was the year to publish new viewbooks.

In addition, an outside marketing consultant recommended that we market the Upper School separate from the Middle School. Previously, the two divisions had been combined into one viewbook.

Also, prior to planning the new publications, we research and developed a new School identity. The previous identity had been in use for 10 years. Use of the school seal was inconsistent. It appeared on signage, but not the school letterhead. The letterhead also gave the impression that North Shore was targeted at elementary grades. Based on the advice of our marketing consultant, we decide to lead with the Upper School. Therefore, the school seal was redrawn with more detail to imply a stronger tie to college-preparatory education, and we added the year that the school was established to communicate our longevity and credibility.

The impact of the new format was positive.

  • We now had graphic standards to follow in developing a family of publications. Previously, no graphic standards or templates existed.
  • We displayed the new seal prominently, and the seal on the publications was consistent with the seal on the school signage, letterhead and bumper stickers.
  • We issued three separate viewbooks – one for each division to reflect the personality of each division. Each book was also a different size. The Lower School was the largest and was intended to evoke a feel of reading a picture book to younger school children. The Middle School book was the medium size for the division in the middle. And the Upper School book was the smallest, intended as a very personal experience, like reading a book, with the copy speaking to the student but not alienating the parent. Black and white was used for an edgier, bolder impact.
  • The publications were bolder and more reflective of the image of the school.
e. Quantity

Lower School Viewbook - 3,500

Middle School Viewbook - 2,500

Upper School Viewbook - 5,000

Faculty Profiles - 2,500

Arts Calendar - 6,300

7 Reasons - 5,000

f. Budget

The total annual marketing and communications budget is $133,000 which includes printing, design, photography, advertising, professional development, travel, supplies, memberships and subscriptions.

g. Costs

Lower School Viewbook

  • Design - 10,191
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 10,516
  • Total production - $22,857
  • Unit Cost - $6.53

Middle School Viewbook

  • Design - 10,304
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 8,532
  • Total production - $20,986
  • Unit Cost - $8.39

Upper School Viewbook

  • Design - 10,800
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 10,263
  • Total production - $23,213
  • Unit Cost - $4.64

Faculty Profiles

  • Design - 1,012
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 2,980
  • Total production - $6,142
  • Unit Cost - $2.45

7 Reasons

  • Design - 1,451
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 1,372
  • Total production - $7,773
  • Unit Cost - $1.55

Arts Calendar

  • Design - 1,036
  • Photography - 2,150
  • Printing - 1,615
  • Total production - $5,101
  • Unit Cost - $.81

Note: Our viewbooks costs are amortized over a three year period so that the total cost is not absorbed in one year. The other publications are produced annually. We expect to realize savings in the next several years on design and even photography, since the format will remain the same and only the text will be updated.

h. Results

Response has been stronger than we anticipated with record attendance at open houses and an increase in qualified applicants. Since the new materials have been issued, applications have increased, the percentage of inquiries submitting applications increased, the percentage of families accepting our offer of admittance increased and the total school enrollment increased to our highest enrollment in the school’s history.

In addition, it seems to have stirred a real pride in the school from our parents. While they were not the target audience, it is has been a nice bonus. They in turn have asked for extra copies of the brochures to share with friends or neighbors they think might be interested in the school.