A creatively designed, well-written school prospectus is important in print and digital – find out why.
I met with a potential client at the beginning of the Summer holiday break who is considering not printing their next school prospectus, instead opting for a digital online-only school prospectus. This led me to think that many other schools with budgets under pressure may be thinking this way, so I thought I’d share our expert insight on the matter.
The client in question has, for many years, updated and printed their prospectus on average every three years. The prospectus has a pocket at the back where they store the annual information, although the client acknowledged that less and less has been going into the pocket each year due to documents being available online instead. This is the point that got them thinking, do we still need a printed prospectus?
With the power of social media and improvement of website accessibility from mobiles, it may lead you to question whether you still need a printed school prospectus. It is a very attractive thought, and a cost-saving idea. In some cases, a digital school prospectus could be a viable option. If your community and potential audience is tech and media savvy and can view the document on various devices, it works. But for most school communities this won’t be the case, the availability of suitable devices and even internet connections may be a barrier, and the accessibility issues may be more of a time-burden (and therefore a cost) than a real cost-saving.
As with most things in life there are pros and cons, so I’ve listed a few here for you to consider if you’re considering print or digital or both for your next school prospectus:
• Highly accessible – so long as your prospective parents have an internet connection, your prospectus can be accessed and read anywhere without carrying a physical document.
• No printing costs – (though digital publishing isn’t free, there are other costs, like design and photography still involved).
• Keep it fresh – it’s more cost effective to change and update regularly or as needed.
• Social sharing and easy tracking – online to measure the level of engagement with your audience and have them help you grow and increase awareness.
• Online distractions – reading something online can be very distracting and it’s difficult to achieve the full sensory experience that captures attention like you can with a printed document.
• Nothing to hand out – to a prospective parent visiting your school.
• Less impact – Reducing your stunning photography to a collection of on-screen pixels can lessen the impact on your audience. Digital prospectuses are usually lower resolution (to keep the file size small) so the reader may not fully appreciate the quality of photography and design.
• Less time – is given to reading digital documents, more time to print.
• Less likely to be passed on – whilst it’s easy to share a document online, it’s actually less likely to be passed on to family and friends than a printed document.
• Technical troubleshooting – waiting for the page to load, download or install software to view it may cause delay and potentially lose the interest of your enquirer.
• Make an indelible first impression – the look and feel of a high-quality printed prospectus is one of the first things a parent will notice, and there are lots of creative options to make your printed prospectus memorable
• People love having something to hold and interact with – yes, digital channels are low-cost and fast, but nobody accesses the internet 24/7.Turning digital pages isn’t as satisfying because it’s not a physical sensory experience.
• 100% attention guaranteed – once you’ve handed someone your prospectus, you are guaranteed 100% of their attention while they peruse it. Plus, they generally look at it longer in print compared to an online version and trust it more.
• No WiFi required! – Convenient to carry with you and read anywhere, without wifi!
• People are more likely to buyinto things they have seen in print.
• Improve the presentation of your school – by having printed prospectuses available at key points around the school, as well as at locations your target audience frequents.
• Once it’s printed, it’s printed – Any changes will mean a reprint, an unwanted expense
• Easy to get misplaced – amongst ‘I’ll read that later’ piles of paperwork.
• Limited space – once you’ve decided the content and number of pages, that’s what you’ve got to work with (digital documents can be bigger and added to as needed).
• Higher costs – for production and distribution.
• Limited measures of success – reliant on asking audience for feedback.
The debate between print or digital is potentially never-ending; they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, neither is right or wrong, it depends on your school and how you wish to portray it to your audience. So is a printed school prospectus still needed? Our answer is a resounding, YES! (and not just because we help schools produce them!) We think school prospectuses are an integral part of your school marketing package, and certainly relevant for your school open day.
Our advice on the print or digital debate? Go with both a printed and a digital school prospectus. They each have a role to play and can be designed to complement one another, giving you all the advantages of both. Producing them at the same time will be more cost-effective too than deciding to do it separately later on.
Get in touch with us to discuss your next school prospectus.
Whether you decide to go print or digital or both, the content and style of your prospectus should be a reflection of all your school is and stands for – check out our other blog tips on writing prospectus content or planning your photography shoot.