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This post is written by Michael Ellison, President at Alumni Monitor, a research service of Corporate Insight.

Corporate Insight Leverages Alumni Magazines to Improve Engagement

As publications increasingly transition from print to digital, research from Corporate Insight’s Alumni Monitor shows that hard-copy magazines remain an effective method of outreach, helping schools alert alumni and supporters about recent news upcoming events, and enticing increased donations. A New Era of Alumni Magazines: A Survey of Hard-Copy Publications examines hard-copy alumni magazines of eight prominent schools from the Alumni Monitor coverage group including Columbia University, Harvard University, Lafayette College, The Ohio State University, University of Rhode Island, Syracuse University, University of Virginia and The College of William and Mary. The report looks at trends in advertisement and promotion types, distribution frequency and interactive content such as quizzes or polls.


Fact: Magazines can be an effective method of outreach.

  • They help schools alert alumni and supporters about recent news, upcoming events, and sparking increased donations.
  • Content can vary from alumni, student and faculty achievements to university news, events and giving opportunities.
  • Hard-copy magazines and their digital components can be a strong, longer-form supplement to social media posts universities and alumni associations.


While many alumni magazines shared traditional styles and strategies, a number of new and noteworthy features are worth a closer look. For example, Columbia University is the only university to present an accompanying magazine mobile app and social media pages. The mobile app is available for free download in the Apple or Google Play app store and allows readers to view the entire magazine. The magazine’s social media presence consists of Facebook and Twitter pages, which post articles and features from the current edition. Viewers can find shared or retweeted posts from the Columbia-related accounts as well (e.g., Columbia Alumni Association and Columbia University).  The magazine’s social media accounts are especially noteworthy, as social media profiles can improve a magazine’s online presence, allowing more alumni and supporters the ability to learn about the magazine and its featured articles. Even though most alumni are sent a hard-copy magazine, and have access to the digital version, there is a possibility that alumni do not know that their alma mater publishes a magazine. Creating a magazine-focused Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page can help raise awareness about the magazine’s online presence.


Key findings on alumni magazine publications from the report include:

  • Columbia Magazine stands out for devoted mobile app and social pages.
  • Online engagement helps create stand-out magazines.
  • Interactive content boosts engagement, but not widely utilized.
  • Donation request inserts are a good fundraising technique, but seldom used.
  • All schools use promotions or advertisements, but quantity and quality varies widely.


Based on these findings, there are several key takeaways to gain from this report:

  • As social media continues to improve the way users retrieve news, universities should consider creating a social media presence for their magazines over a mobile app, especially since social media accounts are easier to produce and more affordable than mobile app technology.
  • Offering actionable steps at the end of an article allows readers either to continue learning about a covered topic or to participate in whatever the next step may be (e.g., providing feedback or emailing an editor).
  • Call-to-action links can improve online engagement and help create an interactive hard-copy magazine if readers choose to follow the links.



The report is available for purchase now on the Alumni Monitor Marketplace. To learn more about this research and Corporate Insight’s higher education tool, Alumni Monitor, please visit our website.


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Higher Ed Live

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