DART Update: Speaking More, Spending Less

Communication expenses cut by $5.5 million

In the 2009 fiscal year, schools and university departments collectively spent $13.6 million on products and services to tell the Duke story to prospective students, alumni, faculty, staff, students and donors, among others.

What's the headline this year? The university has saved $5.5 million on communications. The savings, which are part of the Duke Administrative Reform Team (DART) initiative, include cuts in print publications, websites, graphic design and advertising/marketing.

"What is interesting is that costs were reduced in every category," said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations. "With more communications moving from print to digital formats, you'd expect to see some expenses increase, but we are working together to be more efficient with our resources and produce more useful and higher quality content."

Schoenfeld, who has led the DART initiative to reduce communication expenses, said the decrease was largely due to better use of internal resources and enhanced coordination of external projects through the new Office of Marketing & Strategic Communication. The office assists with bidding communication projects to vendors, ensuring competitive pricing and consistent standards.

Alumni Affairs benefitted from internal resources last year by working with Duke Web Services to redesign its website and taking advantage of existing web templates developed as part of the redesign of Duke.edu. The project, which would have cost $100,000 or more with an external vendor, only cost $30,000 and features video, blogs, and better integration of social media.

Cam Lawler, IT and web director for Alumni Affairs, said using the existing templates "sped up the process and saved us a bunch of money."



"We're now able to pull information from multiple Duke sites to provide a better experience for alumni," he said. "We pull in events from the Duke calendar, news feeds from Duke Today and video from Duke on Demand."

Another unit with significant savings is Duke Athletics. It cut nearly half a million dollars in communication expenses by converting print media guides into digital formats, among other efforts.

Art Chase, sports information director for Athletics, said print media guides have long been used as a recruiting tool by coaches, but new regulations no longer allow distribution to prospective student athletes. Athletics created 20 digital yearbooks for each sport as an alternative and anticipate savings of at least $60,000.

"The digital yearbooks allow coaches to tell the story of their programs in an interesting and appealing way," Chase said. "The format allows us to do different things to keep up with this generation by including video, interviews, photos of every player and links to more information online. We simply couldn't provide all that content in print."