How Can You Delight Your Readers?

1. Aim to delight your readers

One of the things I love about great magazines is that they think broadly about what is possible, given their mission and niche.

Take, for example the front and back covers of AirBnB Magazine:

Edward Hopper gets an update.

The brand-published magazine doesn’t publish many ads. In a way, the whole thing is an ad for a certain type of lifestyle. What that means (among other things) is that they don’t have a back-cover ad like most consumer magazines do.

So what do they do? They wrap their front *and* back cover with a beautiful piece of art. It works as a front cover, it works as a back cover, and for readers paying attention, it works as a single, beautiful piece of art spanning the front and back cover. A+, AirBnB!

Guys, you could do something like this! A shot of campus, student art, a beautiful illustration. There are so many cool options.

But more important: don’t just follow common conventions (regular front cover, separate back cover) just to follow them. Think about what is possible for your publication, and start working to achieve it.

2. Know your magazine’s strengths

Magazines can feel pretty old-school these days, but I genuinely believe that they’re the flagship communications tool for your alumni, donors, and parents.

Read about the three things that print does better than social media.

3. Follow Mr. Rogers’ four pillars of journalism

I love anything that Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes, so of course I was enamored of her profile of Tom Hanks, who’s playing Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

I was especially taken by a list that the real-life Rogers had crafted for the real-life Tom Junod, a journalist whose connection with Rogers is featured in the movie.

Rogers’ provided Junod with four pillars of journalism that Junod took to heart:

  1. Journalists are human beings, not stenographers; human beings, not automatons.
  2. Point out injustice when you have to.
  3. Point out beauty when you can.
  4. Be aware of celebrating the wonders of creation.

While I like all of the points he makes, I think the publications we do for schools are especially well positioned to tackle #3.

4. Test this free transcription service

I’ve long been a proponent of the transcription service Rev. But when it had a rare stumble on a transcription I needed quickly, I turned to another service that proved extremely useful on short notice:

The artificial intelligence transcription is pretty good, and the price cannot be beat: the first *600* minutes every single month are free. Even the premium tiers seem like an impossibly good deal, at no more than $12.50 per month per person. Test it out and let me know what you think.

5. Read profiles from one of the best in our biz

Not long ago, Dale Keiger — Sibley winner, popular CASE Editors Forum presenter, UMagazineology founder, longtime Johns Hopkins Magazine editor, and now 10,000 days blogger — published a book of profiles called The Man Who Signed the City.

Guys, this book is a *ridiculous steal.* You can get Keiger’s knockout, award-winning writing — stories that span more than three decades — for $4 on your Kindle, $15 in paperback. If you just learn ONE THING about profile writing from his examples, it will easily be worth the money. Just get it already, sheesh.

As always, I love to hear what you think! Hit reply and tell me what resonates with you.