Update Magazine, Alumni Magazine for UW-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business

Cover photography by Jim Newberry.

In July 2014, I joined the Wisconsin School of Business as managing editor in the Integrated Marketing Communications department. One of the great draws of the position was that I was going to be able to oversee a biannual magazine–Update magazine, the School’s alumni magazine with a circulation of more than 40,000 graduates.

An editorial committee carefully selects the story topics, but I was able to shape the underlying structure of content and act on a deeply held belief–that alumni magazines, first and foremost, should tell stories about alumni.

When I joined the team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the editorial slate for the first issue was already set. Determining the editorial slate for the Spring 2015 issue was a lot of fun, and we had some big wins with our content. First, the cover story, “Eight to Watch,” got as page views in the digital edition as the entire Fall 2014 issue.

Cover photos by Nancy Borowick, Bruce Fritz, Rick Marolt, and Jim Newberry.

Second, the story was picked up by the marketing team, and images of the eight alums chosen for the article, as well as brief synopses of their stories, were used in beautification projects around Grainger Hall.

For Fall 2015, we had expanded our page count and added a special section to support the university’s capital campaign.

Although this section was only eight pages, it added an extra layer of complexity—the university had created rigid brand guidelines and design elements for its campaign, and the stakeholders at the business school wanted to create an individualized campaign within the greater university push that had its own look, feel and guidelines. (Here’s a peek at how it looked in the print edition.)

Cover photo by Paul L. Newby, III.

In addition, we wanted to ensure that readers understood that the campaign section was, indeed, special and separate from our normal editorial content. (Editor’s note: My personal favorite in this issue was the story about an historic undergraduate educational trip to Cuba, which had an expanded photo gallery for the online version.)

The last issue that I was on the masthead for at the WSB represented the second execution of the “8 to Watch” feature that we piloted in Spring 2015. For the second issue, we began by understanding what worked about the feature and improving on it—in design, format and selection of subjects.

Cover photos by Tyrus Ortega Gains, Jim Newberry and Paul L. Newby, III.

We also increased the length of our feature stories, adopting a more true magazine format and style while introducing a new, visual feature to engage alumni and encourage them to talk about their passions, “Business Badgers who love to… .” These in-depth features allowed us to truly explore the great work that our featured alumni had pursued after graduation, and inspire new graduate to follow their dreams.

Putting out a magazine is so much fun. Each story is so well-crafted—so much time, thought and energy goes into the presentation.

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