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REVAMPED

○ OVERVIEW
Role

Public relations strategist for the campaign

Art and Design Director for the DIG team

Overview

DIG Magazine is a monthly publication at California State University, Long Beach. It is a student-run, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the creation and showcase of original student works.

The Revamped campaign was designed to rebrand DIG Magazine from the inside out. It is a multi-step campaign that began in January 2015 and continues to develop today.

 

Its goal was to reexamine the state of the publication and create a transitional redesign that would garner attention throughout the city of Long Beach. Using shock factor tactics, the DIG team created and published three transitional issues (see below) that redefined the structure of the publication, as well as the organization itself.

 

Revamped resulted in the production of a strong, unified DIG brand. Its efforts ensured the success and longevity of the magazine as it provided an action plan that continues to be utilized and refined.

○ RESEARCH
Research
SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS

 

Organization: DIG Magazine is a monthly publication for California State University, Long Beach. It is a not-for-profit organization run entirely by students under the guidance of three advisors under the Journalism Department. DIG Magazine is dedicated to the creation and showcase of original student works and serve as a source of information for anything and everything related to CSULB and the city of Long Beach. By encouraging contributions from fellow students, DIG Magazine provides an inside look into the community’s culture, art, food, and music.

Audience: DIG’s primary audience consists of CSULB students, professors and faculty. Over the course of the past decade, the staff has extended its reach by writing stories pertaining to people and events outside of the CSULB campus. In doing so, the staff hoped to extend its readership outside the parameters of the campus. At the start of the Revamped campaign DIG Magazine only had a small distribution outside of campus. Unfortunately, it was not large enough to expand efforts to reach out to the Long Beach City community for readership.

Competition: There were two other student publications on the CSULB campus - The Daily 49er, the official daily CSULB newspaper and The Union, a weekly satirical tabloid. In addition, there were also several radio and television networks on campus that compete with DIG Magazine’s multimedia platforms. These include, but are not limited to, KBeach Radio, The Daily 49er Show and College Beat. At the beginning of the campaign, DIG Magazine received the smallest campus funding and struggled to compete in the publication market in the three years prior to Revamped.

Obstacles: DIG Magazine required an entirely new approach in terms of internal structure and external marketing. In the past, the magazine had been considered more along the lines of a course-related project versus a real campus publication. In addition, positions were inherited rather than advertised and applied. The internal problems of the magazine negatively affected its presence to its audience, both in print and digital. The obstacles, therefore, had be tackled from the inside out. A well-structured organization and improvements on its informational platforms would ensure the success of the magazine. Unfortunately, DIG Magazine had no budget for a campaign and relied solely on volunteered time and works.

S.W.O.T.

Strengths

  • DIG Magazine had experienced advisors from the journalism and publications industry.

  • The staff and advisors were aware that the magazine was in need of a public relations and branding campaign.

  • The magazine is run under the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and continues to be supported by its students and staff.

  • The budget provided by IRA ensured the publication of all eight issues and website hosting throughout the season.

 

Weaknesses

  • DIG Magazine had a low monthly circulation of 4,000.

  • There was low interest and involvement from students and professors.

  • The IRA was the only source of funding for the magazine.

  • Social media content was lacking and its presence was near nonexistent.

  • The website was sporadically updated and was visually unappealing.

  • The magazine’s platforms were not unified and operated under different names.

  • The magazine had no budget for a much needed public relations and branding campaign.

  • Any efforts were limited by strict rules and regulations from the College of Liberal Arts and the state of California.

  • DIG Magazine provided little to no incentives for its staff to work.

 

Opportunities

  • The transitional redesign (March, April and May/Summer Issues) gained attention – a good sign that a public relations plan such as Revamped presented a great possibility for success.

  • There was potential for many donors and sponsors.

  • Advisor Robin Jones began holding a DIG Magazine boot camp for new staff members to learn about their positions and duties in order to be prepared for upcoming publication seasons.

 

Threats

  • Competing print and multimedia publications were further burying DIG Magazine’s presence.

  • Staff members were typically inexperienced upon receiving a position at the magazine.

  • Little to lack of compensation for staff members threatened the stability of the magazine as staff members often left their positions for better paying opportunities.

SECONDARY FINDINGS

Staffing and resources

  • In January 2015, there were 12 students under the DIG staff list, of which only five positions received pay or stipend. All other positions consisted of contributors who are not required or expected to contribute regularly to the magazine.

  • DIG Magazine had two advisors from the Journalism and Mass Communications Department - Professors Robin Jones and Gary Metzker. Both Jones and Metzker were experienced journalists who have worked with publications such as the Los Angeles times, Sunset magazine, Westways and Orange Coast magazine.

  • The business and advertising side was run by Beverly Munson and the Journalism and Mass Communications Advertising Office.

  • DIG Magazine received funding from IRA. DIG's budget was cut by approximately $2,000 for the 2015-2016 academic year, leaving a budget of $15,500. This budget had to cover the print issues and website hosting.

  • Staff pay and budgets were based on the discretion and set by the Editor-in-Chief.

  • DIG Magazine sold advertisements, but had not been successful in selling ads in 2014. Sponsorship and donations were also encouraged, but the magazine was yet to successfully secure any such funding.

Cost of production

  • DIG Magazine produced eight issues per year/season and has a website that produces and posts material all year round.

  • Print production is outsourced to a third-party printer in Los Angeles, California.

  • The Revamped DIG Magazine standard spread of 28-pages cost $1,637 per issue.

  • The 32-page December/Winter spread cost $1,751.

  • The 40-page May/Summer spread cost $2,378.

  • Upgrading to a gloss cover cost an additional $1,406 per issue.

  • The Wordpress hosting fee for the website costs $600 per year.

Readership

  • The print issue had a monthly circulation of 4,000.

  • The DIG Magazine website received low traffic with an average of 24 visits per day.

Social media standings

  • Facebook - 987 followers

  • Instagram - 852 followers

  • Twitter - 378 followers

Campus demographics

  • There were 36,822 students enrolled as of Fall 2014 (Campus Facts Fall 2014).

  • There were 2,729 students living on campus as of Fall 2014 (Campus Facts Fall 2014).

  • 92.6% of students commuted to the campus (Campus Facts Fall 2014).

Key take-aways from secondary findings

There was minimal information available about the magazine through secondary research. However, this research presented a clear problem with consumer awareness and engagement. In order to remedy the situation, it was necessary to get a better understanding of the problems at hand. Conducting primary research provided this necessary insight.

Source: Campus Facts Fall 2014. California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved from http://web.csulb.edu/divisions/students/presidents_scholars/campus_facts.htm

PRIMARY FINDINGS

Student focus group

A focus group of 20 CSULB students was conducted to gain knowledge of their perceptions of hopes for DIG Magazine as of February 2015. All 20 students were enrolled in the Spring 2015 Journalism 480 Magazine Production course and served as the focus group throughout the planning process of the Revamped campaign. Continual research with this group allowed for experimentation with various campaign themes, logos, strategies and tactics.

 

Participants

Drawing participants from the magazine production course was beneficial in several ways. First and foremost, they were the magazine’s number one target audience. Engaging in discussions with these individuals gave insight directly from DIG’s biggest and most valued consumers. In addition, these students have various levels of knowledge about journalism, publication and public relations as they are all enrolled in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department. Their background encouraged insightful discussions that produced valuable comments and suggestions.

Perceptions

The following findings are a compilation of the thoughts and perceptions of DIG Magazine – its print issues, online presence and overall brand – as of the release of its February 2015 print issue.

  • The DIG logo was inconsistent and lacked visual appeal. It fails to represent the publication as a brand and what it stands for.

  • The magazine had no mission statement. This created a lack of identity and personality as the magazine did not provide a goal that drives its editorial formula.

  • Primary focus on feature stories is unappealing to most readers. It lacked a sense of continuity or regularity in the magazine that would make readers want to pick up every issue.

  • Each print issue was driven by monthly themes. This method attracted segmented audiences versus the average reader, thus hurting the magazine’s readership. This method needed to include a variety of departments (food, fitness, movies, fashion, etc.) that readers can expect even when the theme is of no interest to them.

  • The print issues reflected several inconsistencies in writing, editorial, art and design. This was unappealing to readers as the magazine presents itself as a poorly-run organization that lacks professionalism and experience.

  • The magazine has a poor online presence.

    • The website was sporadically updated and lacked visual appeal and user-friendliness driving visitors away.

    • The social media platforms were rarely updated and reflected poor relations with the magazine’s readers.

    • Students were more likely to visit a brand’s social media pages as they provied automated updates, however, neither the website nor the social media platforms were poorly-operated, thus discouraging engagement.

  • The group came to an overall consensus that the magazine needed an entirely new redesign.

Logos

In a separate discussion on branding, the focus group emphasized the importance of and need for an official logo. In order to develop such a logo, the group was presented with all the DIG logos used in the years 2013 and 2014.

After long discussions, the group concluded that this logo was the cleanest of the logos presented. However, while it was the most appealing to the eye, the focus group agreed that it resembled a abstract object displaying the letters “OIC” versus “DIG.” The group suggested creating an entirely new logo that was clean, clear and appealing.

Cover lines

During discussions about the importance of visual appeal, the  focus group noticed discrepancies in cover lines throughout the print issues. While earlier issues had multiple cover lines, more recent issues had only a solitary line that reflected either the month’s theme or its cover story. The majority of the group concluded that the single cover lines were more appealing as multiple cover lines in past issues were visually distracting and often reflected a tabloid approach.

○ PLANNING
Planning
TARGET AUDIENCES

Primary Audience: CSULB Community and Alumi

DIG Magazine takes pride in finding stories that showcase works by CSULB students, professors and faculty, as well as stories that parallel the CSULB lifestyle. Producing works with and for this community was the magazine's niche. Continuing this tradition was vital to the longevity and success of the magazine.

 

Secondary Audience: Long Beach City Residents and Businesses

The CSULB lifestyle extends beyond the parameters of the campus. Students, professors and faculty often stress their impact on the community during their time at CSULB. From local bars and eateries to community gatherings and city events, there is a sense of community between 49ers, the city and its residents. While the focus of the magazine may be on matters concerning CSULB, the magazine had the potential to be the city's lifestyle magazine.

KEY MESSAGES

 

Messages to the CSULB community

  • DIG Magazine is your source of information for anything and everything concerning CSULB and the 49er lifestyle.

  • DIG Magazine is dedicated to showcasing your works.

 

Messages to Long Beach City residents and businesses

  • DIG Magazine celebrates the community created between 49ers and city residents.

  • DIG Magazine is a city lifestyle magazine.

CAMPAIGN THEME

 

Revamped

The purpose of this campaign was to reintroduce the magazine to its audiences. At of its February 2015 standings, the magazine needed a major redevelopment of editorial, design and promotional efforts. In order to do so, the DIG Magazine first and foremost needed to rebrand itself from the inside out. The campaign theme Revamped served as a reminder of what the magazine was, but more importantly, what it is to become.

Logo

A solitary new logo was for the purpose of DIG Magazine versus an separate logo for the purposes of Revamped. A separate campaign logo had the potential to create confusion and take away from the rebranding efforts of the magazine. The new logo represented DIG Magazine as a brand with a sense of uniformity and solidarity.

 

The following logo was the best received of those presented to the student focus group. It was created with the brand in mind, as well the comments and suggestions of the student focus group in addition to basic design rules such as cleanliness and appropriate typography. It was used across all DIG Magazine platforms and materials.

Goals

The primary goal was to increase awareness of and engagement with DIG Magazine by the CSULB community and Long Beach City residents. By reintroducing DIG Magazine to its audiences,the magazine had the potential to grow into the publication it was originally intended to be - the CSULB lifestyle magazine. Revamping the magazine from the inside out will ensured the success of both the magazine's internal structure and relations with its target audiences. The following goals were also introduced and met by the end of May 2015:

  • Unify DIG Magazines and all of its platforms to better present itself as a strong and cohesive brand.

  • Revise the internal structure of the magazine to ensure a smooth execution of production and better the work dynamic.

  • Raise awareness of DIG Magazine among its target audiences.

  • Increase engagement and build a loyal readership with DIG Magazine among its target audiences.

  • Increase the circulation of DIG Magazine to reach a wider audience.

  • Develop relationships with and acquire sponsors and donors to ensure proper funding for DIG Magazine.

○ IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation
OBJECTIVES

Objective 1: To increase awareness of DIG Magazine within the CSULB community by 30% by the end of May 2015.

Objective 2: To drive 4,000 clicks to DIG Magazine's social media platforms by the end of May 2015.

 

Objective 3: To drive 5,000 visitors to DIG Magazine's website each month by the end of May 2015.

 

Objective 4: To increase DIG Magazine's circulation to 50,000 by the end of May 2015.

 

Objective 5: To raise $50,000 for the funding of DIG Magazine by the end of May 2015.

STRATEGIES AND TACTICS

Strategy 1: Unify DIG Magazine into a brand

The most successful brands in the world have a strong presence in any and all platforms on which they choose to engage. They present a sense of unity and cohesion that DIG Magazine had been lacking in the years prior to Revamped. This contributed to the awareness and engagement issues that the magazine faced as of February 2015. Unifying DIG Magazine into a solid brand allowed for its revamp to make a strong and appealing statement.

Tactics:

  • Decide the magazine's official name

  • Create and utilize a single logo

  • Establish the brand's identity

  • Create a mission statement

Strategy 2: Strengthen DIG Magazine's digital presence.

DIG Magazine's primary target audience is the leading users and innovators of technology and its digital components. Strengthening DIG Magazine's digital presence allowed it to feed into digital trends and reach audiences from beyond the physical space of the CSULB campus. In addition, this strategy allowed the DIG Magazine to better to reach its secondary audience whom typically do not spend time on the CSULB campus.

Tactics:

  • Recreate a website that is compatible with all digital devices

  • Restore DIG Magazine's radio and television broadcasts to create a true multimedia brand

  • Increase and strengthen social media engagement

  • Create an app

  • Create a QR Code

Strategy 3: Develop activities and promotional events that engage members of DIG Magazine's target audiences with the brand.

CSULB is a commuter campus with only 7.4% of the student population living in campus residences (Campus Facts Fall 2014). DIG Magazine faced the difficulty of capturing the attention of students who typically go to campus only for course-related activities and do not have the time stop for recreational activities in between classes. It also needed to distinguish itself from competing campus publications. Developing activities and promotional events that sets DIG Magazine apart from its competitors encourages engagement from its audiences, thus increasing readership and brand appeal. That increase in readership would then attract sponsors, donors and advertisers.

Tactics:

  • Host a launch concert

  • Host a monthly "dig"

  • Host a monthly publication contest

  • Host an app creation contest

  • Create a scholarship fund

  • Create weekly quizzes to be published online and in print, and posted on all social media platforms

  • Create daily hashtags for engagement

Source: Campus Facts Fall 2014. California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved from http://web.csulb.edu/divisions/students/presidents_scholars/campus_facts.htm

Strategy 4: Revise DIG Magazine's internal structure.

This strategy is vital to the success not only of the Revamped campaign, but as well as the brand in and of itself. Strengthening the magazine's core ensures the proper execution of production and public relations efforts.

 

Tactics:

  • Establish editorial positions and duties

  • Create public relations positions

  • Create an in-house marketing position and develop an advertising plan

  • Advertise for open positions

  • Provide adequate compensation for staff hours

  • Acquire necessary production equipment

  • Switch printers

  • Develop a production timeline

LOGISTICS

Budget

The revamped campaign required a budget of $75,000 to run until May 2016 to implement Revamped in its entirety. The campaign relied heavily on volunteer resources, partnerships, donors and sponsors to fund its efforts. The budget includes the production cost of the print magazine, hosting of the website, staff pay and stipend, and the purchasing of production materials that will be used by the DIG Staff for many years to come.

Staffing and Resources

DIG Magazine will require a regular staff of 30 people to run production, marketing and public relations. Additional activities that require staffing will be pulled from its partner, the Greek System.

○ EVALUATION
Evaluation
OBJECTIVE OUTCOMES

 

Revamped took a summative approach to ensure that DIG Magazine's public relations and branding campaign met its goals and objectives. The evaluation period began immediately at the beginning of June 2015. The objectives were as follows:

Objective 1: To increase awareness of DIG Magazine within the CSULB community by 30% by the end of May 2015.

Met: Awareness increased by 32.7% by the end of May 2015.

Objective 2: To drive 4,000 clicks to DIG Magazine's social media platforms by the end of May 2015.

Met: Social media platform engagement increased by 4,211 clicks by the end of May 2015.

 

Objective 3: To drive 5,000 visitors to DIG Magazine's website each month by the end of May 2015.

Not met: Website traffic averaged 3,568 visits per month between March and May 2015.

 

Objective 4: To increase DIG Magazine's circulation to 50,000 by the end of May 2015.

Met: Monthly circulation increased to 50,032 by the end of May 2015.

 

Objective 5: To raise $50,000 for the funding of DIG Magazine by the end of May 2015.

Not met: Restrictions from the IRA board did not approve an increase in DIG Magazine funding for the 2016 production season.

Revamped also implemented a formative evaluation that revealed the program’s milestones and key learning points. This allowed the magazine to brainstorm ways in which to build future programming and redirect the organization in reaching new goals and/or

objectives for future production years. The strategies were as follows:

Strategy 1: Unify DIG Magazine into a brand.

Met: The campaign's transitional redesign successfully unified all of DIG Magazine's platforms under the DIG brand umbrella. The transitional efforts succeeded in garnering the attention and readership necessary to make the full transition into a sophisticated lifestyle magazine. DIG Magazine now runs under the "DIG MAG" umbrella functioning under a strong mission statement.

Strategy 2: Strengthen DIG Magazine's digital presence.

Met: DIG Magazine underwent a digital overhaul in the summer of 2015. The website was completely redesigned with a user-friendly interface also compatible on mobile and tablets. It has since gone on to win several media awards for web design. Within one year of Revamped,  the DIG staff restored and improved its multimedia elements, such as podcasts and video broadcasting, and increased its engagement on social media platforms. These efforts have vastly improved DIG's digital presence.

Strategy 3: Develop activities and promotional events that engage members of DIG Magazine's target audiences with the brand.

Met: The DIG staff utilized several small scale tactics presented by the Revamped campaign such as hashtags, "dig" hunts and contests. Larger scale tactics such as scholarship funds, concert events have yet to be implemented due to difficulties in funding.

Strategy 4: Revise DIG Magazine's internal structure.

Met: Advisor Robin Jones and the 2015 DIG team spearheaded a mass hiring of staff members for various positions in May 2015. Each staffer was carefully chosen to focus on specific functions that on its own serve a one-dimensional purpose, but together create a multi-media DIG production. The team comes together every six months to evaluate its efforts, refine its current workflow and discuss on new ideas.

CONCLUSION

 

The Revamped campaign aimed to rebrand DIG Magazine from the inside out. It was a multi-step campaign that began in January 2015 and continues to develop to this day. Its purpose was to reintroduce the magazine to its audience to present itself as a strong and unified brand. Tackling the problems began within the structure of the organization and ensured the success and longevity of the magazine. Revamped presented DIG with an action plan that ultimately redefined the structure of the publication, as well as the organization its

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