Student Recruitment Publications Packages: The Winsor School - Gold Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 30. Student Recruitment Publications Packages
The Winsor School
"Her Education Means the World to Me" and "This is My School" Viewbooks
Gold Award

Joseph Broughton
Director of Communications
Admission Office
103 Pilgrim Road
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 912-1345


Joseph Broughton Director of Communications
Pamela Parks McLaurin Director of Admissions
Plainspoke, Inc. Designers
Margaret Lampert Photographer

Purpose Statement

Don't we already have an award-winning viewbook? Do we really need to design a new one? Do we even need a viewbook?

Our communications and admission directors wrestled with those questions along with an ad-hoc group of trustee advisors before ultimately embarking on this project. In the end, we answered: yes, yes, and yes. As important as the Web has become to our applicant families, we decided-and students and families told us-that print remained a key medium for helping applicants make informed choices.

If we were going to invest in printing a viewbook, though, we realized that we needed to approach the project with different eyes. As one of our most thoughtful advisors, a marketing firm's president, had told a CURRENTS magazine writer in February 2007, "Viewbooks should stand on their own as a destination that is serving a different end from the Web."

These two new admission booklets, "Her Education Means the World to Me" and "This is My School," represent our best effort to answer that charge. They take the place of what once was a single viewbook. The two pieces are part of a comprehensive redesign of an admission package first introduced in 2000 and refreshed only slightly in 2004. Through our research at that time and again in preparation for this new project, we saw a need to appeal to two very different audiences: young adolescent girls and their parents.

We chose to work with a new design firm, both for budgetary reasons and to infuse new energy into the process. To keep down costs, we kept the same in-house writer. A key to the success was our investment in a superb photographer who already knew the school intimately.

From the start, we sought to create publications that offered a compelling and credible case, communicating the advantages of our school's rigorous, intimate educational experience for girls. As our designer put it, we structured the package as "an engaging and eclectic visit through the school." The designer, writer and photographer worked collaboratively to create a "visit" that would capture the school's fun and intensity. Upfront, we agreed that authenticity of presentation was a key. As a team, we worked to avoid being overly promotional or slick.

Again this year, we stressed research. As a starting point, we had the results of research and prototype testing from previous viewbook projects. We also examined current survey data from applicants and inquiries. To test our assumptions, we conducted two days of individual and group interviews with teachers as well as student and parent admission volunteers. Their input helped us significantly in refining messages and images. (As an added benefit, those involved have felt great ownership of the pieces and a strong sense of being contributors to the project.)

One intriguing finding was that the most memorable, compelling feature of our earlier viewbooks was the use of "sidebars" and photo captions to show examples of student work and specific assignments. In response, we turned the viewbook concept on its head, making those tangible examples the focus here. For readers seeking more in-depth information, we created an "essentials" section.

While the investment of time and dollars was significant, our Admission team envisions both pieces having a three-year life span, which will spread the costs. The investment in photography, while allocated to this project, yielded a strong file of images for use in several publications.

The pieces are now in their first full year of use, and the Admission interviewing team continues to report very positive feedback. One current parent wrote to let us know "how powerful I thought those two recent publications were. My husband and I were both moved to tears as we read through them and were once again reminded of the gift we are giving our girls by sending them to Winsor. And the girls curled up on the couch together and poured through them. They truly embody the spirit of the school." Ongoing surveys of applicants and new admits will provide us with additional data for future consideration. Yet the clear sense thus far is that our investment was worth it.

Total Costs for Writing, Editing, Design, Photography, etc., if any:
$42,000 [$27,000 for design; $15,000 for photography]

Total Cost of Printing:



Cost per unit:
$14.43 (per package)