Alumni organizations have many constituents—first and foremost, alumni. Secondarily, alumni offices connect with students, prospective students, employers, faculty, staff, and community members. Tasked with representing the quality of a degree from their institution, they are constantly speaking to a variety of internal and external audiences.
While many schools have strong alumni programs and networks, they don’t always communicate these offerings in the most accessible way. That’s where the alumni association blog comes in; it’s another tool in the engagement toolbox, along with social media, that can get you in front of your constituents and develop your brand. Many schools have already embraced alumni blogs, a few of which I will discuss below!
Here’s why you should consider devoting resources to a consistent, strategic alumni association blog for your institution.
Offer Alumni a More Personal Perspective on University Happenings
Instead of relying on press releases and official news articles from the university, some schools leverage alumni association blogs to communicate key information and announcements in a more creative, accessible way. In addition to allowing for a personal set of voices, blogs let contributors easily insert multimedia content, like images and videos. Plus, due to the inherent interactivity of blogs, it’s easy for readers to add comments below a post and spark conversation. Especially if you include social media sharing buttons within the post, they are quickly shareable via Facebook and Twitter and make great content to share on your alumni social profiles.
MIT’s “Slice of MIT” alumni blog uses the tagline “Surprising. Insightful. Quirky.” Regular contributions come from students, faculty, and staff in the alumni association office. A recent post—which saw over 400 shares across social media—centered on MIT’s celebration of National Pi Day and how alumni at a distance could join in the fun. The tone of the blog is easygoing and conversational, so it’s easy to see why people are so comfortable engaging with and sharing its content!
Highlight and Celebrate Remarkable Graduates
Most schools have mechanisms for recognizing their most accomplished alumni, whether through annual awards galas, features in school publications, or prominent placement on the university website. But what about the next tier of alumni—all of those up-and-coming entrepreneurs, business people, artists, socially engaged citizens, and other newsmakers? The new grads who land great jobs? These alumni deserve recognition, and a blog is a great place to showcase the diverse and remarkable people who comprise an alumni body. It also gives students a place to learn about real-world career options.
Arizona State University’s blog has a feature called “My Cool Career,” highlighting a different alum each month with a noteworthy (and often nontraditional) career path. Recent alumni profiles include a young alumna who built a career internationally, a jewelry entrepreneur, and an adventurous duo of sisters who travel the country to interview American legends. Just reading a few of these stories gives a sense of the accomplished array of graduates among ASU’s alumni body.
Create an Easier, Less Intimidating Entry Into Alumni Life for Students
During college, the word “alumni” can have a scary, far-away connotation. For some students, it evokes the image of graduates 20 or 30 years their senior reminiscing about “the good ole days” at college. An alumni association blog, however, can give students a peek at the vibrant realities of alumni life, including the full range of activities and opportunities provided. Alumni status doesn’t have to be intimidating—in fact, it should be eagerly anticipated!
Chapman University does a great job of posting content to its alumni blog that is relevant and appealing to both students and alumni. The blog showcases some of the specific ways to get involved as a new graduate. Better yet, it welcomes contributions from many of the recent grads who have kept the university close by volunteering their time! For example, a young alum wrote a post about hosting local happy hours (“Chappy Hours”) to bring together communities of Chapman alumni. Naturally, a student who regularly sees this kind of relatable content will come to view the transition to alumna/us with less trepidation.
Does your alumni association have a blog? What’s your strategy for blogging? Let us know in the comments below!
Dan Klamm is Director of Young Alumni Engagement for the NYC office of his alma mater, Syracuse University. He has six years of experience across higher education career services, alumni relations, and marketing. Feel free to connect with Dan on Twitter and LinkedIn.