Case Study

Insights for Higher Education Publications

Carleton College, a highly ranked liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota that attracts an exceptional student body, wanted to ensure its alumni and fundraising publications were resonating with its target audiences. Neuger Communications Group and Neuger’s Fieldstone Research team conducted interviews, focus groups and surveys to gain valuable readership insight and feedback.

The Situation

Carleton College wanted to learn whether their award-winning quarterly magazine, Carleton College Voice, and their more sporadic publication, Inside Carleton, were providing relevant and valuable information to alumni and parents of current students. These publications are meant to keep the community connected and informed about the college, and they also help with the college’s fundraising efforts.

The Communications Challenge

Our Fieldstone Research team needed to figure out a way to gather information from a diverse and large number of college alumni and parents of current students to gain adequate and accurate feedback on the publications.

The Strategy

Our Fieldstone Research team worked extensively to gather feedback on Carleton’s publications.

  • 1,150 surveys were distributed via both USPS and email for each of the publications
  • 180 individuals were contacted via telephone for input on the publications
  • More than 300 alumni and parents were contacted via phone and email to participate in focus groups

Factors such as age, race, gender and location were taken into consideration to ensure information was being gathered from the entirety of their broad and diverse audience. After conducting the research, our team compiled the collected data into easy-to-read charts, graphs, lists and summaries to provide Carleton staff members with readily accessible data to inform any future decisions regarding their communications channels and methods.

The Results

Through the generous feedback of alumni and parents of current Carleton College students, our Fieldstone Research team was able to gather strong and conclusive information regarding both publications. Our research concluded that Carleton College’s community is very supportive and welcoming of their communications and they are accepting of opportunities to give financial support to Carleton’s high-quality educational programming and facilities.

While the Voice magazine resonates strongly with both alumni and parents of current Carleton students, it was made clear that Inside Carleton had some improvements to make in order to connect with readers on that same level. Inconsistency of Inside Carleton’s content and frequency were noted as factors in the lack of connectedness readers feel.

The information gathered by our team provided Carleton with the tools necessary to move forward with their communications: assurance that they are on the right path with the communications the Voice is providing to their community and specific improvements that can be made to elevate the connection between readers and Inside Carleton.