How can you pull together information in a format that lends itself to both print and online distribution, that can be easily updated, and that doesn’t cost too much either time-wise or financially? We chose the good old-fashioned fact sheet, says CEC member Eoghan O’Sullivan.
EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, has been running conservation campaigns since 2000, raising funds and promoting awareness among millions of zoo visitors each year. With campaigns running for one or two years there are now eight of them to look back on. They’ve addressed subjects as diverse as the trade in bushmeat, the crises facing amphibians, European carnivores, tigers and rhinos, and threats to the rich biodiversity of South American rainforests and Madagascar.
We wanted to mark International Year of Biodiversity by publishing an overview of the campaigns. The problem was to find a format that would suit the diverse themes of the campaigns, that could be distributed both online and in print, and that wouldn’t cost too much to create. We also wanted to be able to be able to update the information on a periodic basis.
We therefore decided to create a series of Fact Sheets, one for each campaign, which could be distributed electronically or online as PDFs, but could also be printed as and when required. To keep costs down we designed and produced them in-house, using nothing more complicated than Microsoft Word, converting to PDF at the highest possible resolution. (There are some limitations with image compression and so forth, but with a good printer an acceptable print quality can be achieved.)
By choosing quite generic headings for the different sections of the fact sheets the relevant information for each campaign could be added, with sections expanding or contracting depending on their relevance in each case. A maximum length of two A4 pages was set, and a consistent header was used to unify the design across the whole series. As they were created using only Word, they can be updated quickly when new information becomes available.
In these days of social networks, web 2.0 and the ascent of video as a medium (for EAZA also!), we should not forget the formats that have served us well in the past. Fact Sheets by their very nature are optimised for presenting clear information in an efficient manner. While it’s important to use illustrative images, they don’t need to be fancy or glossy – the medium is (part of) the message, in that they are used to present facts rather than deliver a sales pitch.