Monthly Archives: February 2010

Rethinking Online Publications

By Claire Napier and Dan Woychick

The online version of your publication is an increasingly important part of the communications mix. Because print and pixels are distinctly different, it’s vital to consider how each affects the way your audience consumes information.

Reality check

An online publication should be more than a way to reduce costs by saving money on printing and mailing. In fact, research published in the March 2010 issue of CASE’s Currents magazine found that nearly 75% of respondents did not look at the online edition of their alumni magazine, while 91% always or frequently read the printed version.

People have different expectations when they go online. Readers seek up-to-the-minute information in a media-rich environment that includes video, message boards, and opportunities to connect via social networks. Creating an online publication that delivers relevant content and draws repeat visits takes dedication and time.

Putting a publication on the web offers new opportunities to communicate with people beyond your core audience. The CASE research finds that external searches often spark more interest in your organization and the information and expertise you provide. Online publications must be optimized to help people find you.

Make the medium serve the message

Through animation, some online publications try to literally mimic the effect of a printed page being turned. This gimmick not only misses the point, but is not terribly helpful to the reader. Your web interface should focus on delivering content to your readers in a way that advances the story and increases understanding.

The success of your online efforts relies on your ability to adapt to the way people are viewing the written word. Devices like the iPhone and Amazon Kindle enable readers to interact with content in new ways. Recently, Wired magazine unveiled their vision for taking advantage of this new technology.

Each advance in technology requires an understanding of how people will interact with information — both what is possible and what is preferable. The question should not be: How do we make this more like a printed piece? But, how can we leverage the technology to create a more engaging experience for our readers?

Some examples of well-done online publications:

Bostonia (University of Boston Alumni Magazine)


Pepperdine Magazine

Think (The Magazine of Case Western Reserve University)

Related Content:

What Alumni Read (or Ignore)


Apple’s Bite: Publishers Should Beware the iPad

Are you being true to your brand?

By Claire Napier

When it comes to branding an organization, having a memorable visual identity is valuable, but not as valuable as being true to the core values of the organization.

This past weekend, during the Super Bowl, there were many well-crafted and humorous ads. While fun to watch, many of the ads made me ask: Are companies simply creating entertainment, or are they effectively building their brands?

During the game, a friend recounted the plot of a favorite ad from last year’s Super Bowl, but then confessed they couldn’t remember which company the commercial was for. Advertising your organization is an opportunity to share the story and values of your brand, not just to momentarily grab attention.

This year, the commercials for Denny’s restaurants were a good example of a company using their high-profile advertising time to promote their brand, not just entertain (Watch ad here). Denny’s campaign was built around promoting an upcoming event during which they will be giving away their signature Grand Slam breakfast. As a brand built on delivering an affordable dining experience, Denny’s reinforces their core values with an offer that acknowledges their customers’ need for affordability in a struggling economy.

Too many companies that bought Super Bowl advertising time made entertainment paramount to their brand, which is fine if you’re in the business of providing entertainment. Denny’s gave consumers a chance to connect with their brand. To strengthen your brand, take advantage of every opportunity to tell your organization’s story by asking: Am I reinforcing our core values in a way that’s meaningful to our audience?