Alumni magazines: to theme or not to theme… there’s no question!
Copious alumni magazines are released by schools and universities every year, but very few use a theme – are they missing a trick?
Themed magazines are sold worldwide; fashion, sport, finance, technology, politics, history, sewing, art and all topics under the sun are bought and subscribed to. So why do people gravitate towards a theme?

Specialised content provides more in-depth and well-rounded insights than a generalised approach. Moreover, a theme gives the magazine that je ne sais quoi – it just makes it feel more special.

Above all, a theme considers what your audience actually want to read. Does your alumni magazine sit comfortably next to GQ, Tatler, Wired et al? If not, have you really nailed a publication that appeals to your readership? If it looks like a ‘school magazine’, then probably not.

Applying a theme to your alumni magazine might seem daunting, but here are the reasons we believe it’ll be worth it:

Basing each edition of your magazine on a particular topic elevates it to a more sophisticated, editorial publication, making it more distinguishable and – frankly – interesting.

This editorial feel and flow helps to ensure that every edition is not ‘just another school magazine’; a theme gives each issue its own identity and purpose.

The sheer volume of alumni updates can easily turn your magazine into a generic newsletter, but in the age of social and digital media, do you really need to commit every news snippet, baby announcement and holiday smug-shot to print? Focussing on a theme and streamlining everything else creates a more thoughtful, focussed and naturally flowing read.

Different voices talking about a singular theme provides diverse viewpoints and perspectives, giving a well-rounded and in-depth commentary on the subject that you could never gain from a single article.

Moreover, it encourages more alumni with sector knowledge or an interesting point of view to pitch in and engage with the school when they normally would not.

And it’s a great opportunity to incorporate school development in the magazine. If you’re fundraising for a new science centre, a science themed magazine will help build a buzz around sciences and create a case for support in a subtle, understated way.

Steering the magazine with a focused, thematic approach leaves readers eagerly anticipating the next theme, and the magazine begins to develop a brand of its own.

Satisfied you need a themed alumni magazine? Here’s how to start planning one.