School Magazines: A Waste of Time and Money?

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School Magazines: A Waste of Time and Money?

For the second year in a row, MAXX had the pleasure of exhibiting and speaking at The Sunday Times Festival of Education last week. The two day festival at Wellington College aims to “bring together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change and policy makers” and it was a privilege to appear on a programme that also featured speakers such as Nicky Morgan (Secretary of State for Education), Gareth Thomas (retired Rugby Player), Michael Wilshaw (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Ofsted), Stella Rimington (First Female Director of M15) and Tinie Tempah!

The event was fantastic, the sun shone and we had a number of great conversations with other exhibitors and visitors. We particularly enjoyed being next to Epson and Texthelp (both providing technical help for schools) as well as giving away more MAXX cows than we ever expected!

The most exciting part of the event for us was getting the opportunity to speak about school magazines, a subject we are incredibly passionate about. MAXX has many years experience working in the education sector and has recently produced new magazines for Cheam School, Rokeby, Marlborough College (newsletter), Lancing College and Highfield and Brookham Schools. Our Business Development Director Catherine Jenkins and Creative Director Matt Barrett used this expertise to deliver a brilliant presentation entitled ‘School Magazines: A Waste of Time and Money?

Are they a waste of time and money?

A number of schools often suggest that they are and there are clear arguments for this opinion. In a busy hi-tec world where most communication is online, is there a place for printed collateral? Let alone the fact that the member of staff in charge of a magazine is likely to already be overworked and worried about the time and money that needs to go into a magazine! Unfortunately all of these worries usually manifest into the magazine being an afterthought and not a labour of love. As a result the magazine doesn’t reflect the true ethos of the school and remains unread by parents.

What is their true value?

Why is it that so many schools still produce them? It’s because with the right approach, as our client Sarah Linfield (Marketing Officer at Lancing College) states: “School magazines have become invaluable marketing tools” A magazine documents the successes of a school and showcases the diverse opportunities and activities that the school has to offer in a way that prospectuses and other materials can’t. They give parents a true snapshot of activity at the school, as another client of ours, Phillip Evitt, Headmaster of Highfield School (winner of the Best Prep School Head 2014) explains: “School magazines are a tremendous marketing tool that has a traction that the website and prospectus don’t. It shows the real life of the school, what the children really do.” The key thing Phillip has picked out there is the “real life” aspect of a magazine that documents and celebrates what actually happens at a school, often in the words and pictures of the students themselves that makes it so much more powerful and a far more accurate representation of a school. In a prospectus, events such as school trips, drama/music productions, extra curricular activities, sport results and boarding life often take a back seat. A printed magazine, however, shows the life of the school through a fun review of the previous year that will appeal to parents and get them sharing the magazine with friends and family, as it will have the coffee table factor.  

A truly effective school magazine will become the student’s voice with many schools choosing to use the student’s words and images. When collected together these magazines can then become a true historical archive of the school, an aspect of a school magazine that is incredibly important to organisations with a rich history. This approach has also led some teachers to say that their magazine had helped with Ofsted assessments as several points in the new framework can be ticked off by the process, if students are involved. Whilst it is clear that school magazines are a vital part of a schools marketing, the worries surrounding time and resource are still there.

As part of our presentation MAXX defined 10 tips that ensures schools avoid those traps and headaches:

1. Be clear on budget and timings
2. Find a good design agency (we know who we would recommend!)
3. Choose your printer carefully
4. Recruit good assistants who can stick to deadlines
5. Plan backwards from ideal publication date
6. Collect content all year round
7. Work out topics, pagination, section lengths, word counts
8. Save content in sections, as you work
9. Always use the best images available
10. Proof your copy!

We are more than happy to send out our handy ten top tips reminder to anyone that is interested. MAXX is confident that if these steps are followed, every school can produce a Magazine that students, staff and parents can be proud of. It goes without saying that each step in the creation of a School Magazine or indeed any printed material needs to be collaborative and planned. There is so much more we can say about magazines than the above ten steps. The first step however is pretty simple; it’s just to meet up for a cup of tea and a chat.

If you would like to meet with MAXX to discuss your school magazine or any other printed collateral you can call us on 01635 521224. If you would prefer you can also get in touch through our website, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!MAXX speaks at The Sunday Times Festival of Education

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