As one of the SimpsonScarborough Scholarship award winners, the scholarship generously covered my admission to the CASE Summer Institute of Communications and Marketing, a week-long conference dedicated to issues in communication and marketing for independent K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.
The institute offered four deep-dive tracks in addition to the general sessions. I signed up for the Magazine Track, something I previously had no experience in before coming to Cheshire Academy. For those of you who don’t know, many schools produce publications called “alumni magazines” that feature stories from the school and updates from alumni. A mix between journalism and press release writing, alumni magazines are a genre of their own.
I’m so glad I signed up for these sessions because I learned a ton about magazine strategy and writing for alumni magazines. While writing is a small amount of my job, and I’d not previously written for Cheshire Academy’s alumni magazine, a recent restructuring has led me to pick up a few articles. Sitting in the magazine track at the institute taught me a lot that will be useful for my future article writing. Some kernels of wisdom from the institute:
- Every article should have a story, and the story can’t be “this awesome person went to our awesome school and is currently doing awesome things”
- A little risk-taking can be a good thing!
- Get inspiration from off-the-rack magazines, be it fashion, cooking, menswear, etc.
- Criticism is expected; enjoy it!
I also learned about using illustrations when you’re lacking good photography, how the design of a magazine spread should compliment and add to the story being told, and how much control an editor should have over a magazine.
Some of the general sessions about crisis management, public relations, and branding were useful too. While I couldn’t attend every session because of overlapping times, the notes posted to the internal message board allowed me to skim sessions I missed, such as one about internal marketing practices.