I’m reading a great book right now on leadership. The author is clearly well-read on the subject, and thoughtful in his writing. I’ve gotten tremendous insight from the book, yet it’s painful to read, because he skipped the design step. The type is too small for my eyes, and in Times New Roman. The text creeps into the middle fold of the paperback, so I have to pull hard at the spine to read the inside edge of the type, and each line is so long that I struggle to figure out where to continue on as I read across the page. After a chapter or so, I set it aside and reach for something easier on my eyes. So, if you are wondering if you should handle the layout of your next annual report, magazine, or newsletter yourself, consider this: beautiful publications rarely spring from non-designers using MS Word. READ MORE »
Author Archives: Heather Cox
Over the years, we have found that, especially with clients new to the process, the following tips can save you from additional design charges. I’m sharing these budget-friendly strategies to help you keep your project on track. Try to submit close-to-final text as well as your charts and graphs, when you request a design estimate. Provide plenty of resolution when sending imagery (1mb minimum). Provide the “vector” versions of your logo, typically the .ai or .eps file. Be sure that your text is finalized when sending it for layout. Make sure your publication designer understands how many layers of review necessary so they can budget for every round. Designate only one key contact on your team, to avoid misunderstandings. Provide final data for all tables and charts, as well as excel examples. Try to stay on schedule, especially if you have a hard deadlines. Manage revision cycles carefully, for instance Make READ MORE »
Last weekend I spent the day in Baltimore in a room full of WordPress fans for a fun day of learning and sharing . Two tracks of sessions made it hard for me to choose — every session was terrific. It was a great day and I picked up a few tips to share. 1. George Stephanis, from Automattic, shared that the JetPack plug-in suite includes rich analytics, specific to WordPress, that run side by side with Google Analytics. 2.Akilah Thompkins-Robinson, from Akzmedesigns shared that google doesn’t like when we post links in FaceBook posts, and she recommended that we post links into comments instead, in order to improve our FB visibility 3. Josh Patterson, from Web Mechanix, shared that SEO is not about building back links any longer. It’s about content, and sharing this content across all of your social platforms. Throughout the conference, there was a lot of buzz READ MORE »
Spending three full days with nonprofit leaders talking about marketing and fundraising was inspirational. Throughout the conference, the overarching message was how multi-channel marketing campaigns should integrate across all channels, and that we can no longer ignore our mobile audience. While I l have so much I’d like to share, I wanted to share a top ten list of great takeaways from the Bridge Conference in DC in July 2013.
Planning and managing a year-end campaign may not be quick and easy, but it is pretty simple. I’ve put together a basic framework, month by month, that you can use to manage your year-end giving appeal. August Set campaign goals Set a begin and end date for the campaign (hint: the end date should be in early January) Get organizational buy-in from your web team, marketing team and all decision-makers Request/negotiate some real estate on your home page for the campaign September Concept and write the messaging for all components of the campaign Determine distribution of messaging (email, direct mail, web site and social, for example) Write all “thank you copy” and determine means of distribution (phone calls, handwritten notes, email) Write post-campaign copy to try to lift donations early in the new year October Connect with donors — send an impact statement, annual report or share a win via READ MORE »
Have you been wondering how to use your social channels to stay better connected? This month we thought we’d share a few ways we are doing just that. Linkedin connects us to all of you, the people we actually know, and it outlines our education and experience, displays recommendations, and establishes credibility with prospective clients and strategic partners. We use our blog to answer client questions. This is a great way for us to drive keyword-specific traffic to our site, to dispel myths about graphic design, and to clear up confusion about our services (such as “how do you use your social channels?”). We use our corporate Facebook page to share our team culture, to post photos of events we attend, and to congratulate our clients when their projects launch.
Most of my clients know how much I love the medium of video. And when we can help cause-driven organizations share their stories using a variety of media, including online video, we know that this will help them to raise more money, attract more volunteers, and engage more supporters and sponsors. Stories and conversations, simple and authentic, can connect people around the world. And I encourage clients to incorporate video clips on their web sites, to put a human face on their programs, operations, fundraising and outcomes. And these do not have to be $100k “commercial-style” videos. They can be straightforward and basic. A few weeks ago my amazing colleague, Yasmin Nguyen from Vibrance Global, visited MillerCox for a day of video shoots. I’m so excited about how they turned out, I’m providing a sneak peak right now while we complete the editing process. I want to send a huge READ MORE »
I saw Dan Palotta’s keynote at the 2013 Nten conference last week in Minneapolis. Palotta describes how, since 1970, the social sector hasn’t moved the needle on our biggest social problems. He believes that this is because nonprofit leaders aren’t thinking big about being willing to invest in their cause. They feel constrained by the artificial construct of the ratio of overhead to program spending. Palotta reminded nonprofits that their goal isn’t to keep overhead low, it’s to solve our great social problems. Palotta goes on to say that this common practice of using administrative overhead as criteria for determining worthiness is reinforced by the rating organizations Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, who do not report the impact the nonprofit has, but instead, this short-sighted metric.
Education Annual Report MARCH 2013 —Education is a top priority for the current administration, so policymakers in the education arena are bombarded with recommendations and reports of varying quality. The Brown Center at Brookings needed its deeply researched annual report to stand out in a crowded field. The design and layout of the report needed to support the Brown Center’s status as a recognized thought leader in education policy, and to add this extra layer of credibility to an already excellent product. The Brown Center was looking for ways to create an attractive annual report design and a reliable production process for the report, so in 2009, they contacted the MillerCox Design team. In response, MillerCox submitted a written agreement outlining design fees, printing costs, deliverables and deadlines, working backward from a deadline of early March. Next report cover design options were presented for review and approval so that we READ MORE »
Twelve Brochures, One Tight Budget MARCH 2011 — Armed with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) chose to partner with an experienced brochure design firm to bring to life two brochure series, one aimed at patients and one aimed at health care providers. The PHA team’s intention was for fairly wide distribution of these 12 brochures. MillerCox worked with the PHA team lead to figure out how best to allocate their budget among printing, mailing, and design. Key issues included how the brochures would be reproduced and distributed, how long the shelf life should be, and what tone was appropriate for each series in order to deliver the message effectively and connect with the reader.