Marketing people in the public and social sectors create a near-alphabet of publications: appendices, brochures, calendars, dockets, errata, forms, guides, handbooks, indexes, journals, laws, manuals, notes, pamphlets, quick references, studies, tables, updates, volumes, warnings, yearbooks.
Most of them seem dull or impenetrable, regardless of their content. It doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t need to go to design school to stand out.
This starts another of my small series of how-to topics. I’m going to show you how to be better in publication, without much extra work, using a tool that you most likely already have on your computer: Microsoft PowerPoint.
Design isn’t about being trendy or even attractive, necessarily. Design is first about being useful, solving a problem. In our society, problems are often about information, or require information to solve. Designing and distributing information is part of problem solving. Design and distribution are part of marketing; designing and distributing information is a major part of publishing.
How many documents do you think are in the bookstore of the U.S. Government Printing Office? Personally, I don’t know, and I don’t even know how to estimate. When I visited the site for writing this post, there were more than 1,000 new releases alone. Multiply that by all the publications from state, county, and city government, non-profits, utilities, and school districts.
For each of those documents, someone somewhere thought that people had a problem or need that could be addressed by creating and distributing a publication. That’s a lot of public sector marketing.
But how often has someone called you to their desk to admire a useful and beautiful publication from a government agency or non-profit? Or started off a meeting with, “I found this fascinating government document…” It’s rare at best.
If you and I can start raising the bar on the usefulness and attractiveness of documents from the social sector, then maybe more of the great ideas and solutions from social sector folks can get more exposure and make more of a positive impact.