Southern Seminary magazine

Does your institution publish a magazine for alumni?

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has conducted its first national survey of alumni magazine readers. The good news: well over half of survey respondents say that the alumni magazine strengthens their connection to the school.

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary newsletterThe bad news? Young alumni find magazines less useful, since they are more likely to go online to get news about their classmates.

Does that mean that alumni magazines can be phased out over time? Perhaps not. The associate editor of the Johns Hopkins Magazine, Dale Keiger, suggests that magazines build loyalty over time. While it may take years, he says, those young alumni turn into older alumni, who have the resources to support the school.

In the last year or two, several schools have cut at least one print edition from their annual publication cycles, in favor of special digital editions. This may help square a few budgets, but it's short sighted. Our readers -- readers of all ages -- have expressed a strong desire to receive print magazines from us. The CASE survey shows that . . . when alumni begin to sneak up on that stage in life where they're more willing and able to contribute money to our schools, they will be among our most avid readers -- provided we produce the sort of engrossing, engaging reader experience that rewards their attention to our pages.

Sioux Falls Seminary magazineWe cannot ignore the Internet and the changes it has wrought, but chasing a younger audience by getting all digital will prove to be a pointless exercise, I believe. One thing my 35+ years in the business have taught me is that worthwhile magazines don't chase a readership. They build a readership. 

That's food for thought when you're looking at the budget.

To read more about the CASE survey, read this article.

For more information about magazines, check out Dale Keiger's blog UMagazinology, which is devoted to news about alumni publications.