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We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers or On Target's managing editor, Kevin Smith.

Market While We Work

Last month, in "Counties Count in Marketing," I talked about the importance of market segmentation. This month, I'd like to talk about four major ways we can reach our segmented audiences with a marketing message while we work with them as we've always done.

Four ways we reach our audiences are:

Newsletters

We spend an estimated $500,000 per year across the state producing and mailing newsletters. They send a powerful message about Extension.

My marketing tip is simple in concept, if not in execution. When you send out a newsletter, make sure that it proudly and clearly represents Purdue Extension, entices people to ACTUALLY read it, and shows that we are "Putting Knowledge to Work."

To help, Ag Comm staff have offered training in almost all parts of the state in the last year and provided "Creating Super Newsletters," a resource book created just for Extension. (Email me at the address below if your county hasn't received a copy.)

News Media Relations

Many of our efforts with the news media involve placing topical information in columns and news releases. You might explore options with your newspaper editors to see if you can get a once-per-year display advertisement that promotes your office. Because it can get lost in all the other information, I don't suggest doing this around fair time. If this works and you are interested in ideas for the display advertisement, please contact me.

Presentations

If anyone attends an Extension program or educational event and goes away without saying "that was a great Extension meeting," we've lost an important marketing opportunity. (Unfortunately, they often go away without realizing that it WAS an Extension meeting.)

We often have only minutes with audiences to cover complex topics. But it only takes a few moments at the beginning and end of a talk for an overhead with the Purdue griffin and the words "Purdue Cooperative Extension Service."

Direct Mail

Whenever you're directly mailing information to a group of people, consider including a simple one or two-sided flyer that explains a little more about Extension and what your office has to offer. This helps some people bridge the gap between their areas of interest and Extension. If you include the areas that you are comfortable addressing, it can also train people to ask you the "right" questions.

Look for more on marketing Extension in "On Target" in 1998.


Super Newsletters: White Space Isn't Wasted

(The following was adapted from: "Creating Super Newsletters: A Training Curriculum for Cooperative Extension Staff, Module 3," University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, June 1997.)

One of the easiest graphic elements you have at your disposal is simply nothing. In design circles, this is called "white space." If you take a page and add white space judiciously, you'll greatly enhance the layout, even if you don't have fancy artwork or photographs. Never underestimate the value of white space.

White space is probably the most overlooked graphic element, especially by people who are new to layout. Our tendency is to cram as much copy as possible onto the page. The reality is that the more we cram on the page, the less likely the reader will read anything, let alone have the visual resting space to digest what he or she has read.

The important thing here is to use white space intentionally. Decide when and how to best use it, just as you would any other graphic element. Take a look at how white space is used graphically in the sample newsletter layouts in "Creating Super Newsletters." You'll see how powerful it can be.


Working with Your Video Graphic Designer

Say you've determined that the best medium for your message is a video and that you want it to include graphics and/or animation. That means a graphic designer will be included in your meeting mix.

What can you expect? The designer will want to know a lot about your project, so come to that meeting with as much information as possible. Give the designer the big picture.

Be prepared to answer the most important question: Who is your audience? A graphic designed to appeal to school children will look very different from one intended for government officials. Just answering the audience question will resolve many design issues.

What about supporting materials (handouts, teachers' guides, brochures, etc.)? Mention them up front, too. The designer will want to develop a graphic that will work in printed publications as well as on the screen.

Once the designer knows what you want and when you need it, she'll transform your concepts into a preliminary design consisting of rough sketches and storyboards, and present them to you for review. That's the time for major revisions and suggestions.

Treat the designer as a team member. Illustrate what you have in mind. You don't have to be a great artist. The designer will get the idea. Evaluate the communication effectiveness of the work. Check for accuracy and appropriateness to the audience.

After this meeting, the designer will begin production. That's when the ideas take form. And it's also the most time-consuming part of the animation project, so both you and the designer need to be confident you're on the same track.

Video graphics cost money as well as time. A typical commercial rate is $200.00 per hour for composition, for creating the images. It takes $50.00 an hour just to have the computer go through the motions of adding shadows, textures, etc. to the 3D image and another $50.00 an hour to record the image to videotape. Mistakes can be very costly. So make certain that you understand what you need and communicate that clearly before the time and money costs start adding up.

Finally, there's the evaluation stage. This is the time for minor revisions, last minute brainstorms, and corrections. Be sure to double check for accuracy, misspellings, etc.

To summarize, when working with your video graphic designer--or any other designer--communicate early and often.


Grammar Trap: Capital vs. Lower Case in Titles

This is a tricky "Trap" to write because it's a somewhat complicated convention, not rule.

There are several conventions governing how to capitalize titles. I writing about the convention On Target follows for its stories, the one that's still most common and that many of us were taught in school.

Under that convention, you capitalize the first letters of the first and last words in titles--AND every other word except articles (a an the); short conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or); and short prepositions (e.g., to, in, of).

What's "short"? Don't capitalize conjunctions and prepositions of four letters or fewer. Do cap conjunctions of five letters or more (e.g., until, about).

Examples:

Notice that I capitalized some pretty short words in the examples? That's the whole point of this Grammar Trap. Articles are short words, and most conjuctions and prepositions are short, too. So many people think that length alone determines what gets capped. That's why you see "is"--a verb and thus a very important word--short changed in titles.

Tips: Think "down four, five up" when deciding whether to cap a conjunction or preposition. And remember: "Is" is a big word.

If there's a grammar or usage trap you'd like me to discuss or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.


May 1998


Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information