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September 2013

In the midst of prospectus hell? It’s not too late to give yourself a break

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If you’re lucky, your undergraduate prospectus will already have been put to bed. But the chances are you may already be behind schedule. Before too long, you’ll have the postgraduate prospectus to consider. And meanwhile the world and his wife are doubtless telling you that prospectuses are no longer relevant/matter more than ever/should go online (delete as applicable).  

In our humble opinion, your prospectus suite is the most important thing you produce. As our headline suggests, we don’t think this is reflected in the quality of the majority of prospectuses out there.  

The reports of the death of the prospectus have been greatly exaggerated

For a prospective student, your prospectus outlines a purchase that probably exceeds the scale of their parent’s first mortgage. It captures (or should) an exciting entrée into three years of personal transformation.  

It will be a while before the printed prospectus is an iPad that doesn’t work.  

So not only is the prospectus not dead, it’s probably not solely online either. Whilst we’re on the subject, the prospectus should not be a carbon copy of the website but a companion to it. By harmonising online, offline and social, you can manage an ongoing dialogue with your prospective students, as well as ensure your communications are effective and cost efficient.  

Too much ‘89th in West Yorkshire for Tea’ and not enough ‘Welcome to the First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ 

The messaging and design of most prospectuses needs a fundamental rethink. Pressure from league tables and the advent of tuition fees has led to a profusion of proof-points rather than messages. And those who can’t claim pole position, claim just about anything! Visual expression still hasn’t moved far from the sector norm of ‘three under a tree’. Whereas we want to spearhead a move towards rich storytelling that tugs at the heartstrings as well as appeals to the head. Through compelling narrative, visual storyboarding and judicious use of media, university can be brought vividly to life; what it will feel and be like, where it can ultimately transport you.  

The importance of the prospectus has rarely been sufficiently reflected in the quality of it

Function follows form, not the other way around. In a forlorn bid for creativity, execution smothers message, rather than dancing in tune with it. As our headline suggests, the array of prospectuses goes from bad to worse. If we can be direct, this is because all too often the partner chosen to develop the prospectus, is chosen on cost not value.

It’s not enough to be frank and bright, you also have to be able

It’s hard enough to produce thoughtful and creative concepts, but it’s all for naught if lip service is paid to quality of delivery. And all too often this gets ignored more than anything. Much can be learned from the world of FTSE annual reports. Which is less about what they look like and more about how they’re managed. Summaries, super-summaries and dynamic online versions. Clever solutions driven by production efficiencies and opportunities. Not two chats a year but constant dialogue. And above all, high creative and production values, and a process that attempts to run like a well-oiled machine.

What’s with the hard sell? Give me a break! 

We specialise in developing insightful, interesting brands and communications for universities. We’ve got lots of prospectuses in our studio, in fact we’re surrounded by them. But very few of them were created by us. Because all too often they’re done by ‘two men and a dog in Telford’. We’re not being regionalist or sizeist, but in today’s fight for the right students, wouldn’t you rather entrust your most important publication suite to a specialist and the very best?

Our fees may be higher, but we should save you money in production, we certainly offer value and the results will deliver so much more.  Give yourself a break, make a better choice (that means ‘contact us’) and get a heavenly prospectus.

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