Timing is all-important for reaching your audience in time for fall enrollment.
The Winter/Spring semester is winding down, Summer’s just over the horizon, and the last thing most of us want to be doing is thinking about classes picking up again in late August or early September. But enrollment for fall classes for most community colleges is already open, which means that it’s time to start marketing them to students lest the class numbers drop.
Community colleges who have used CareerFocus in the past know the process and are often ready to go. But when new staff come onboard, or when a college who has never used our services signs on for the first time, it’s easy for them to misjudge the time it will take to get an issue put together.
While we have seen some issues assembled and ready for the printer with only a week’s turnaround time, most colleges take 5–6 weeks to discuss their content, assemble cover images, send us their materials, and then review and approve proofs. Clearly, assembling and shipping an issue promptly will help colleges spread the word about their courses sooner. It will also help them make more efficient use of their internal resources so that they can focus on their own projects.
With that in mind, here’s our best advice for those wanting to improve the turnaround time on their CareerFocus issues.
Do you know what you want to promote with this issue?
We have noticed that issues of CareerFocus attract more attention when they’re organized around a theme. This could be a program, a student service initiative, or even a grand event. Sitting down with your staff and reviewing possible themes for the issue will help clarify the topics for the upcoming semester.
Once you have your topic in mind, our staff can also step in to direct you to articles in our content library that would be on-theme for your issue. Given our ever-expanding catalog, even those who have worked with us for many years may not be aware of all the articles we have to offer. We can also discuss some of the possibilities with your team so that you can understand what content is available as you decide on the ultimate focus of your issue.
Have you selected your cover photo and other images, or will you need to arrange a photo shoot?
We always recommend that our community colleges use original photography of their campus and students for the cover image of CareerFocus. While it is possible to use stock photography, the quality of these images can be lacking, and they are less engaging for readers.
On the other hand, a high-quality image of a student, faculty member, a classroom or work facility, a study area, or even an outdoor campus shot give prospective students an image of your institution. While arranging these photo sessions may seem intimidating, they usually only take a small amount of coordination on the part of your staff. If you have a photography course on campus, you can even talk to the head of the course about having students take the photography themselves. Otherwise, arranging for an experienced photographer on staff to take a picture, or hiring a professional photographer, is well worth the effort.
Are you including original content?
We strive to provide our clients with a wide range content that can be used as-is. But we also know the value of customization, and many of our colleges want to be able to edit and tweak our content to better reflect their brand. Furthermore, we encourage colleges to include small feature pieces of students, departments, or programs that might catch the attention of a potential student.
However, creating this content does take time. While we believe colleges benefit from these pieces, if they don’t have them ready to go when the time comes to print the next CareerFocus, it can hold the project back. Having original content already written—or being ready to dedicate the time to write it on short notice—will be a significant factor in the speed at which we can bring your issue to print.
How many hours can you and your staff devote to the project?
The more time you or your team can set aside to compiling the next issue of CareerFocus, the faster it ca be sent out to students. While we work hard on the design end, some decisions are down to you and your staff, and the more those decisions are delayed or put aside, the longer it will take us to complete the issue.
Typically, we estimate it will take the community colleges twenty of more hours of work to discuss the focus of their issue, choose the articles they want to include, edit the articles to match their needs, submit their content to our team, and review the mocks we send in return. For a dedicated team member willing to dedicate the better part of a week to assembling the next CareerFocus, those hours can fly by. But most departments take longer, and in some cases the back and forth can last for five to six weeks.
If you begin your process in March or April, taking a leisurely pace on assembling content is not a problem. But if you wait till June to start the conversations, your Fall semester will be practically ready to start before you make up your minds.
The more decisions you make in advance, the faster the turnaround time on our end.
The long and short of it is that the more you can plan ahead of time, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to print. As our community colleges become more used to the process of assembling their content, may find themselves thinking about future issues even while assembling their current magazine. Others keep an eye out for possible content pieces as the year goes by.
Integrating CareerFocus into an overall marketing strategy for your community college helps to keep it front of mind so that you don’t miss any publication deadlines. Furthermore, by aligning it with your long-term goals, you set your programs up for success.