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‘I wouldn’t want more pages’: The 28-page Sibley winner

Without exception, the winners of CASE’s Robert Sibley Magazine of the Year are gorgeous and well written. But this year’s winner was something I’ve never seen before: short! In a tight 28 pages, SF State Magazine is as ambitious as any magazine out there, and it accomplishes as much as many publications twice that length.     To find […]

The lessons of a print alumni magazine hiatus — with numbers

In the spring of 2020, many print alumni mags came to a screeching halt. Colleges cut and combined issues. Some moved their publications exclusively to digital platforms. What was the impact? Recently, I talked to Lindsay Sherman, senior editor and writer at McDaniel College, a small private liberal arts college in Westminster, Md. She and her […]

Is it time to ditch your alumni magazine website?

In a recent newsletter, I linked to a summary from the CASE Alumni Magazine Reader Survey, which shared lots of data from the 192 institutions that had used the tool. Among the numbers that caught my attention: 87 percent of alumni magazines have an online version of the magazine as well as a print magazine. (No word […]

Are you making this common mistake with your storytelling?

If you’ve read my work for awhile, you know that I love story packaging: quizzes and Q&As, infographics and annotations, timelines and lists. But do you know what storytelling format to use when? Sure, you know that your 100th anniversary package should probably include a timeline. But should that profile be a Q&A, an as-told-to, or a straight […]

Feature well chaos? Try this.

I love talking to editors about their story development processes for their magazines. I’m particularly interested in the ways they work on their feature wells. After all, a print magazine is a school’s flagship communications tool for alumni. It’s often one of the most time-consuming and expensive communications tools, too. In a magazine, the feature […]

Do you follow the Rodham Rule for higher ed writing?

Last summer, I gobbled up Rodham, the alternate-universe story of Hillary Clinton written by one of my literary favorites, Curtis Sittenfeld. A line that stood out to me was when the fictional version of Hillary sends her brother a sports-related text: “This season does seem promising, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up.” […]

The essential question to ask before making big magazine changes

First, let’s state the obvious: most schools made dramatic changes during the early weeks of the pandemic that weren’t based on in-depth analysis. This isn’t a criticism! The changes were an immediate response to an unprecedented crisis. Communications teams slashed costs, cut the number of issues in their magazine or trimmed pages. Some went entirely […]

4 predictions for alumni magazines in 2021

I made my first set of annual predictions last year. Were they good? Were they terrible? I mean, the assumptions didn’t include a pandemic, that’s for sure. Will 2021 bring the same kind of chaos? There’s still plenty of uncertainty, but based on what I’m hearing from clients and newsletter subscribers, here are some of […]