Mount Holyoke “blogazine” gets alumni communications right…

The “blogazine” at Mount Holyoke College is a great example of an alumni magazine that makes a successful transition from the print version to an online format that’s easy for people to find and read. I’ve been using a screen shot of the latest issue in my “Writing Right for the Web” presentations and workshops for more than a year.

The current issue is online here.

One question that’s often asked is whether or not anybody indeed reads the online version. And so I recently contacted the magazine’s editor, Emily Weir, and asked her that question. Here’s what she sent back:

“To date, we’ve received only a few comments per article (I think 6 comments is the most for one article so far), which is disappointing. (We thought one of the major benefits of offering the blogazine would be that it allowed readers to have a dialogue through the “comments” function.)
“But, though most readers aren’t commenting, they ARE reading!  And what amazed me is that people are reading the blogazine articles long after each issue’s “active life” (by which I mean the three months that it’s the latest issue) as well as immediately after a piece is posted.  We usually get several times as many readers AFTER an article’s active life as during its active life. This implies that people who don’t get the print magazine are coming to the site (by googling the topic, presumably) long after those who got the printed magazine have gone to the web (presumably to check out the web “extras” found only online in relation to a particular article.)  So each article gets a sort of double life.”
Emily’s experience is a strong confirmation of the value of putting the magazine online in a form that’s easily available to search engines and that’s easy to read when people find it. 
What about the lack of comments? That’s not anything to worry about. A while back (far enough that I don’t remember the source) someone wrote that the great majority of people who read blogs regularly never comment on what they read. The more important point is whether or not people are reading in the first place. And that certainly seems the case here.
The blog format is an incredibly flexible (and relatively low cost) way to make transitions like this. Special thanks to Maya D’Costa at Mount Holyoke for sending me a long-ago note about the blogazine.


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