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Planning a themed alumni magazine


Themed alumni magazines: planning ahead

Giving each issue of your alumni magazine a theme is a great way to bring a focused, editorial feel – elevating the quality of your publication.

However, theming does pose challenges of course; will there be enough content to fill the magazine? Does this mean turning down potentially good features? Will everyone like the theme? Good planning and clear editorial policies will overcome most of your concerns and make the whole process much easier.

It's true that a themed magazine will require more time and thought, but it is well worth the effort. Read this post for reasons why.

Here are some key considesrations to include in the planning of your themed alumni magazine:

Be broad – themes like ‘The Arts’ cover a wide range of subjects and are consistently relevant. Not every article needs to be from the perspective of someone working in the arts sector; an accountant can still be interested in theatre and provide an original viewpoint that makes for a great read.

Be picky with images – a theme gives great opportunities for large and editorial visuals, for which you’ll need high quality images. Make sure to ask for images upfront before choosing features, or even arrange photoshoots – quality images make all the difference.

Be prepared to say no – it is hard, but the beauty of a theme is that you now have an excuse to turn down a 3,000 word essay on sponges for the third year in a row. When requesting content, make your policies clear, including that not everything will make the cut.

Don’t get bogged down by the theme – it doesn’t have to be themed cover to cover; four or five quality articles alongside the front cover is usually enough to give the theme enough substance.

Know your audience – by picking themes that are representative of your audience’s interests and professions it will be much easier to find contributors and more of your readership will feel engaged with the finished product.

Always be on the lookout – you never know where inspiration for a theme or cracking article idea will come from, so it pays to always be on the lookout. Whether that’s when talking to potential contributors at alumni events, or simply perusing the Sunday papers – it’s better to keep the ideas continually flowing than trying to brainstorm them at your desk.

Brief your feature writers – putting time and effort into the brief will greatly improve what you get back. Be clear on the purpose of the issue and discuss with the contributor what angle they’re planning to take. Does this fit well with your theme? Does it balance well with the other features that are being written? Is there another approach they could take that will make the publication more varied and interesting to your readership?

Get the balance right – your magazine doesn’t need to be themed cover to cover; three to five quality articles plus some snippets is plenty to give the theme enough substance.

Producing a themed magazine requires planning and effort but the boost it will give your alumni publication will make it well worth it.


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