With budgets tightening and universities looking for ways to cut costs, one solution might be to turn your school’s printed alumni magazine into an online magazine. Or at the very least, you can cut some pages from your alumni magazine and feature that content online instead. Not only will an online magazine save money by removing or lowering printing and mailing costs, but it can also help you reach younger alumni and prospective students as “the majority (81%) prefer reading digital text to print” when it comes to Millennials.
Aside from the lower costs, going online lets you tell your university’s stories in more ways, from videos to interactive articles to podcast episodes. Some of the very best university magazines, like BU’s Bostonia and Johns Hopkins Magazine, have done a great job of featuring compelling and diverse types of content online in order to engage their audiences. While you may not have the resources that these two schools have, you can still craft a cost-saving online magazine that is compelling, branded and meets engagement and donor goals.
Here are some things to keep in mind when launching an online university magazine:
Think Bigger Than Just Alumni
Instead of an online alumni magazine, why not think of it as an online university publication? Fuller Seminary did just that with their launch of Fuller Studio, which is aimed at not only alumni but others connected to the university as well — including prospective students. In this way, your online publication can be a major asset for introducing prospective students (and parents) to your brand as well as keeping donors updated on how alumni are making an impact in their communities, all while still keeping alumni connected to their alma mater.
Build a Diverse Team on Campus
Unlike a print magazine that comes out only a few times a year, it’s important to publish content regularly in order to grow and maintain your reach online. It can be tricky to keep tabs on the latest alumni entrepreneur or student athlete, which is why it’s important to build a team of people across campus and meet with them regularly to learn about the latest news and stories.
A Promotional Strategy Is Just as Important as the Content
What good is that in-depth feature or enthralling alumni spotlight if no one sees it? That’s why it’s important to offer your audience a way to sign up for email updates with a clear call-to-action. And make sure to use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to strategically promote your content. An email might be perfect for an older alum while an Instagram post might work better for a prospective student.
Don’t Neglect Design, Site Structure or Measurement
Compelling photography, easy-to-navigate content, and a clear menu structure are important to keep your audience coming back. For some, the university publication might be the only interaction they have with your school, so make sure it’s well designed and branded. And use services like Google Analytics or Hotjar to take into account the pieces of content that are doing well (or not so much), which will help you to plan future content accordingly.
Rely on Others for Help
The beauty of working on a college campus is that there are tons of talented and knowledgeable people available to help craft content for you. From an English major to a history professor to an admissions counselor, tap into your campus community for contributors to your online magazine. Just a little bit of outsourcing and editing can save you a lot of time and money.
Chou, Joyce. “How Millennials Consume Content (& How to Better Engage Them).” May 24, 2018. www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/millennials-consume-content-better-engage.html