Stories to Connect

Finding and sharing stories

On any given day, there are dozens of potential stories happening at a school. Faculty research, student achievements, and campus traditions in action. Then there are the alumni—spread across the country (or globe)—who are living, tangible proof of a school’s impact beyond the campus years. How are those stories developed and shared?

At 2communiqué, we partner with numerous talented editors and writers who can take a kernel of an idea and develop it into a full-blown story. Where do they begin? Through our work together, we have gained insight into how they develop their story lists.

Campus partners: Institutional priorities shared from the top are a reality for alumni editors.

Class Notes: The bane of many editors’ existence, this element can be useful when gathering interesting alumni stories.

Social Media: LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are all rich sources of leads.

Campus Conversations: Matt O’Donnell, the former editor at Bowdoin, would set up a table on campus and ask people to share ideas. And “Leading While Black,” a content-rich story developed at Tufts, started as a conversation between a professor, a director, and the chief photographer.

Story Meetings: The communications team, news office, folks from advancement, and alumni relations all contribute to the story list.

The days of print-only alumni magazines are in the past, and this should be seen as a positive. With the magazine being one of the most important communications, many campus constituents believe their stories should be included. And while a press release about a new building is not a magazine story, it is a great fit for an e-newsletter. Events? All easily posted on social media. The fact is that timely material is not a good fit for a publication printed four times a year (at best). Rather, this is an opportunity to strategically integrate a digital component; freeing up the magazine to become more evergreen and thought-leader driven.

University of Richmond and Johns Hopkins are two examples of schools that have created digital story hubs for their readers that include media, news, events, and the magazine. When we worked with Tufts University’s Office of Publications, there was a central publications team who developed the flagship magazine, as well as the professional school magazines. Select stories from the professional schools ran in the flagship magazine, affording a more streamlined process.

What if the story hub model was created as an internal resource? Instead of multiple offices across campuses working in silos to develop stories, what if they came together as a central communications/publishing team? Content could be developed and shared more strategically from a central source instead of the typical redundancy seen today. A news story written and photographed for one channel could be developed, including digital assets, for multiple uses. Having a central repository would allow for other campus stakeholders in advancement and alumni relations to access stories based on their needs, as well.

The stories are there. So are the means to share them. It’s time to put story and strategy first.