What’s “magazine content” in the modern age? Zehno’s partnership with St. Edward’s University is defining a new magazine model for higher ed.

The magazine redesign included an editorial approach that complemented the university’s content strategy of moving the best stories in multiple directions: print features get chopped up for social media, and web content chunks get combined into features for print.

Challenges

  • Deliver the right stories to the right readers through the right channels.
  • Appeal to younger readers (the school’s largest audience segment) who are more likely to read “magazine content” in a digital form.
  • Spotlight the transformational moments at the core of the St. Edward’s experience.
  • Showcase Austin, Texas — St. Edward’s location — not as a hipster haven but as an unparalleled place to learn. Appeal to the magazine’s multiple audiences (from parents to alumni).
  • Choose stories that can live beyond the print magazine: in admissions materials, social media campaigns, more.

Results

90,000+ added reach

Thanks to multi-channel thinking, a typical feature story can be seen by upwards of 90,000 people — before it’s ever in print.

AWARD-WINNING

St. Ed’s approach to sharing info between digital and print platforms won a top award from Content Marketing Awards.

Exclamation mark!

90% repurposed

Under the new editorial plan, more than 90% of content is repurposed in digital channels.

How to think beyond traditional “magazine content”

Zehno’s redesign upped the game for St. Edward’s print magazine. A formalized story mix now synchs to university priorities. The modern design places photography at the forefront. And the combo of writing formats creates a lively pace in print that also transitions seamlessly into the digital world.

Even though the redesign project focused on print — the most traditional channel for feature-length storytelling — it was future-focused. Together with the St. Ed’s team, we planned features and departments that could be deconstructed and recycled across multiple channels and audiences. For instance, new departments that bring out student life and the Austin advantage can easily be repackaged as social media content or folded into the admissions stream.

Maybe your institution isn’t set up like St. Edward’s, where a centralized marketing team creates content for the university homepage and all other communications channels. But you can start thinking like major media companies that reshape, repurpose and recycle content in a constant effort to deliver the right stories to the right readers, no matter where they are.

Here’s how:

Get over the fact that readers may have glimpsed a piece of content before.

Chill out. Just because readers might have seen a story before doesn’t mean they paid attention to it.

With the fragmented attention spans of contemporary life, your writer and editor (and possibly their moms) may be the only earthlings who read any given story from the first word to the last.

So why not make like CNN, New York Times, ESPN — and practically every other media company — and get into the repurposing groove? If a story’s worth writing for print, extend its life through social media, in email campaigns, on the website.

Don’t hold everything for print first.

Until scientists discover a cure for higher ed’s Print Magazine Debut Syndrome, where the deepest content always shows up in print first, just ask yourself this question: If this story is so great, don’t I want more people to see it?

St. Edward’s institutionwide content strategy regularly delivers a reach of 90,000+ readers before a feature story shows up in print. And that’s a story that performs on the low end.

So experiment with using other channels to serve up your great story pre-printing. Preview the story on Facebook? Post a video on Instagram? Add a mini-version to your admissions flow? Run the full article on the university homepage — paired with outtake photos?

Yes, please. All of the above.

Instead of stealing the thunder from the print magazine, these other channels build the appetite for your fab story when it finally lands in readers’ old-fashioned mailboxes.

Try something, then adjust.

The St. Edward’s team utters the mantra, “test, measure, iterate” approximately 1,000 times per day.

How do you get started? You don’t need a polished plan. Just begin to experiment with moving content through different channels. Then measure how successful you were.

As you analyze the results — drawn from web analytics, click-throughs, reader surveys and other sources — you’ll start to discover what works for your institution.

When something succeeds, look at how you can do more of it. When something flops, adjust your tactics and measure again.

Wear both your “editorial” and “marketing” crowns proudly.

The editor in you already knows how to bring stories to life in a way that stimulates readers’ brains and charms their hearts. The marketer in you already knows how to deliver your strategic “big message” to the people who matter.

Talented editors have worn both hats for years, usually in an ad hoc manner. But that needs to change.

Formalizing your magazine content strategy — using both your editorial and marketing expertise — brings new life to the top-quality storytelling and beautiful visuals your readers have always loved in print.

And who doesn’t look good in crowns?

What Zehno did

  • Audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Prototyping: Print magazine redesign, editorial strategy with new sections and storytelling devices.
  • Templates: Layout of first issue and template preparation.
  • Support: Continued consulting and staff training.

Tips for your team

  1. Carve out space for recurring editorial signatures that build your magazine’s personality (while driving its strategic engine).
  2. Elevate your magazine content to the university homepage. Don’t keep it exiled just on the “magazine webpage.”
  3. Make the most of in-house talent. St. Ed’s new image-centric magazine builds on the in-house team’s photography skills.

DOES YOUR MAGAZINE MATTER?

Next time budget slashers descend on your office, be prepared to answer what it actually accomplishes.

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