the Retreat

a little place for big ideas

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All 50 States

Iowa State did a special edition of their magazine that included stories on alumni from all 50 states. The project snowballed into a travel blog, alumni events, and a portrait exhibit. 



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The Skimm: A Model for Our Newsletters?

A post from Jen…
We carefully consider, monitor, and schedule the dissemination of information to our constituents. Through our solicitations, invitations, and general information emails that we send to them, we are sharing relevant information that matters to them. The regular newsletters that we send to parents, alumni, and friends contain good stuff…  but are bulky with regurgitated news stories, photos, and headlines. It is unlikely that our recipients are giving more than a cursory glance to the stories that we list underneath the introduction letter.

The Skimm is a daily digest of news stories. Using new and clever language, they break down the news for the day or week with short blurbs and links that direct the reader to the original news story. It is easy to read. It is fun to read. It adds life and charm to what might be a dry, yet incredibly important story. It asks questions of the reader and challenges them.


If we gave our newsletters a make-over and worked to mirror the work and efforts of The Skimm, I think we would not only find that our constituents revisit stories they might have already read, but that it will induce readers to share other relevant news that might somehow be connected to something happening on campus, or to share comments, praise, and opinions about the work our students and faculty are doing.
Food for thought. Will discuss further at the retreat.

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I’ve already shown this to a few people, but wanted to also post it here, for the record. This “walkabout” from Phillips Academy Andover is a great virtual way to give people a sense of the Andover experience. Very cool interface. Click image below to take a virtual walk through the Andover campus.


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Switchboard is a closed classifieds-like community for schools (and other organizations). Reed has one. (Of course! In fact they invented it.) I check it weekly and have posted to it. I feel more connected to Reed through Switchboard than through the magazine, the e-newsletter, direct mail…

The interface is very simple and friendly. Could be really great for our school’s alumni network. You can post an ask or an offer:  

ASK: Looking for a job in digital media in the D.C. area; I need a place to stay in NYC over the Fourth of July; I need a ride to Rehoboth; I want to collaborate with a graphic designer on a book project; I want to buy a used piano for a good price.

OFFER: Our company is hiring summer interns; I can offer advice to anyone getting into communications; Our nanny is available part-time.