An alumni magazine planned, edited and produced by Hope-Beckham, Inc., at the request of Young Harris College to establish a unique liaison with graduates, emerged as a slick, professional, eye-appealing publication eagerly received by alumni. Photos, on covers and inside pages, captured the breath-taking beauty of the college’s mountain setting and provided nostalgic, visual travels back in time for readers. Writing done by students, faculty, alumni and an occasional contributor was professional, factual and covered past and present subjects of interest to alumni. Hope-Beckham, Inc. edited and re-wrote articles, cropped photos, and provided other journalistic contributions to enhance the magazine’s appeal. It received raves from alumni, faculty and student and such “outside” professionals as Michael Skube, book editor and columnist of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CHALLENGES, OBJECTIVES
Our challenge/objective was to place in the hands of Young Harris College alumni a publication that would effectively communicate school activities, changes and improvements; to provide them an entertaining, informative and lasting link to their college. It would communicate a positive message about faculty, students and alumni and provide a vehicle for alumni to communicate with each other as well as their alma mater. The magazine would necessarily be a four-color, slick publication emphasizing in photographs the beauty of the mountains and surrounding areas of the college, bringing reminiscence and warm memories to alumni subscribers who “remember when.” The magazine would be good enough to replace a newspaper that was dispatched on a sporadic schedule by a group of alumni with no official ties to the college and a publication that often contained errors and inaccuracies. The magazine would be done well enough that subscribing alumni would look forward to receiving it.
Before agreeing to take on the challenge of producing a four-color magazine, Hope-Beckham, Inc., visited the Young Harris campus, met with students who would contribute articles and photos and with faculty to determine what interest there was in publishing such a magazine. Also, in conjunction with the Young Harris public relations director, calls were made to various alumni to determine interest in receiving this publication. Those polled showed great enthusiasm and interest.
STRATEGIES AND TACTICS/IMPLEMENTATION
We wanted to begin with an attention-getting issue and made the decision to highlight the beauty of the mountain community and campus through photography, especially the cover. Departments such as Alumni News and A Letter From the President would be consistent and current. News and features written by current students, with nostalgic contributions by alumni, would be included, along with faculty accomplishments and profiles. It would be published three times per year to correspond with school semesters.
Hope-Beckham, Inc. would hire a professional design person to make the magazine aesthetically appealing, inside and out and utilize talented photographers to make certain the “look” of the magazine was appealing. We would suggest and implement a writing style consistent throughout the magazine and use a heavy hand in editing and re-writing copy, at the same time working closely with student contributors so that they could learn something about writing and publishing. We would write attention-getting headlines and “teasers” for covers.
A staff was created -- along with a faculty advisor -- to do the writing and photography, with guidance by our agency through which stories and photos were planned, with all copy going to HBI for editing, re-writes, etc. Our agency named the magazine “Echoes” symbolic of the school’s mountain setting.
Young Harris College alumni, including those in the professional and business worlds, along with recent transfer students at senior colleges; current students and faculty; selected media; people with more than a passing interest in the college, i.e., board of directors, etc.
RESULTS AND MEASUREMENT TECHNIQUES:
Response by alumni, faculty, students and others by letter, e-mail and telephone was overwhelmingly positive. Alumni news contributions have grown with each issue. Circulation has reached about 12,000 subscribers. A major newspaper columnist praised the magazine as “well done, superbly edited, with very interesting articles.” School faculty and officials dispatched favorable, full-of-praise letters to HBI, Inc.