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Even editors can be at a loss for words when it comes to expressing their needs for a magazine redesign. This sample scope of work letter from The Penn Stater editor Tina Hay, which she sent to firms as a prelude to the magazine’s redesign several years ago, may help you begin to articulate your own vision.

Originally published with our blog post, “5 Tips for Planning an Alumni Magazine Redesign.” 

 

August 28, 2014

Dear XXXXX:

We’re in search of a respected graphic designer to tackle a redesign of The Penn Stater, Penn State’s award-winning alumni magazine.

Our magazine, averaging 80 pages plus cover, is mailed six times a year to the 145,000 members of the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest dues-paying alumni association in the country. We try not to be the stereotypical alumni magazine: We work to attract top-quality writers, photographers, and illustrators; we report honestly on what’s going on at the University; we can be funny, even irreverent, at times; and we run almost no fundraising stories. We don’t assume that our readers will read the magazine just because it comes in the mail from their alma mater. Instead, we work hard to produce a magazine that they will want to read—and, better yet, a magazine that even non-Penn Staters will find engaging. A few recent issues of the magazine are enclosed.

The Penn Stater has won 34 national awards—including editorial and design awards—in the past seven years from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the University and College Designers Association (UCDA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the and other organizations. We won the top trophy for magazines from ASAE in 1999 and from SNAP (the Society of National Association Publications) in 2001. Our ongoing readership surveys show that 76percent of our readers rate the magazine as either “excellent” or “very good.” Our colleagues throughout the country tell us that only our outdated design (the last redesign was eight years ago) keeps us from being one of the very best alumni magazines in the country.

That’s where you come in.

The magazine badly needs a fresh look. Not a total overhaul, necessarily. We just want to (1) open up the front and back of the book, which are too crammed; (2) add more white space in the feature well too; (3) do a better job of coordinating the look of the front and back with the well; and (4) give the magazine a cleaner, more contemporary look overall. That may sound like a lot—and indeed every page of the magazine will probably look different when we’re done—but some of the changes may be fairly subtle.

More specifically, if you were to end up honchoing our redesign, we would want the following from you:

—A new grid throughout
—New typography and color palette
—Recommendations about our approach to photography and illustration
—A new nameplate for the cover, or possibly a subtle updating of the current nameplate
—Suggestions on possible name changes for some or all of the departments
—Recommendations on paper stock and finish
—Art direction of the first redesigned issue, and consulting/critiquing for several issues thereafter
—A new template and/or style guide to aid our on-staff art director in implementing the new design

In addition, we’re interested in discussing the possibility of your providing templates and other assistance for putting parts of the magazine on the Web. We currently have no online presence. If, however, this aspect of the project is of no interest to you, that’s OK—the redesign of the printed magazine is our top priority.

If you would like to be considered for this project, please forward a letter of interest (including an estimate of overall cost, itemization of fees, and project time frame) along with samples of your work—especially, of course, samples of magazine design or redesign. We would also appreciate your providing the names and phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses of a few recent clients we might contact. All of this information will be kept confidential.

We ask that you respond no later than [date]. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk with you; feel free to give me a call at [phone] or send me an e-mail at [email]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 

Tina Hay, Editor
The Penn Stater magazine