Magazine Publishing Improvement: University of Georgia - Silver Medal

Category 23A: Magazine Publishing Improvement
University of Georgia, Outreach (formerly Prism)

Contact: Kathleen Cason, public relations director, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, Treanor House, 1234 South Lumpkin St., Athens, GA 30602, Phone: (706) 542-2512, e-mail:

Please Note. The Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach began publishing Prism in summer 2002. Following the summer 2004 issue, the editor resigned. A new editor (Kristen Smith) initiated the redesign but left after six months. No issues were published between summer 2004 and winter 2006, when the redesigned magazine was produced under direction of the current editor (Kathleen Cason). Under the current editor, the magazine changed from an annual publication to one that is published twice a year (Jan 2006 and Dec 2006). In 2007, the editorial calendar will shift to an April and October production schedule.

Prism magazine aimed to inform the following audiences about public service and outreach programs and activities: University of Georgia faculty and staff; University System of Georgia presidents, chief academic officers, and continuing education directors; and members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Staffing: Editor
Frequency: Once a year
Average pages per issue: 32
Circulation: 10,000
Total annual budget (one issue):

Design $2,400
Printing 7,365
Other (photography) 690
TOTAL $10,455

Average cost per issue: $10,455 or $1.05 per unit cost
Results: Prism magazine primarily informed an on-campus audience and educators at other universities in Georgia.

Outreach magazine aims to inform decision makers about how the University of Georgia extends knowledge and resources beyond the campus. Through smart and compelling stories written for a diverse, educated lay audience, readers will learn about the societal impact of the wide-ranging outreach activities at the University of Georgia.

The magazine aims to:

  • Increase the visibility of public service and outreach activities at the University of Georgia;
  • Enhance the reputation of Public Service and Outreach on- and off-campus.

Staffing: Editor, Assistant Editor

Frequency: Twice a year

Average pages per issue: 32

Circulation: 15,000

Total annual budget (2 issues):


Design (including photography and illustration) $13,858
Printing 22,998
Other (travel; advisory committee expenses) 1,500
TOTAL $38,356

Average cost per issue: $19,178
Unit cost: $1.28 /per magazine
Results: A technical advisory committee was established to provide feedback on the initial redesign of the Winter 2006 issue. Committee members include a magazine journalism professor, a public relations professor, the director of UGA’s news service, public relations directors from several schools and colleges, and other faculty members.

The committee reviewed the initial redesign, informed us about the changes they liked, and suggested further changes, which we have addressed in the Winter 2007 issue. They said that they liked the fresh colors, the paper and feel of the magazine, better images and illustrations, better writing, the rhythm (short stories to features to short stories), the new table of contents, the lack of the vice president’s letter, and back-cover photo.

The sources for our stories report that the articles have increased interest in their programs both on- and off-campus.

In addition to the advisory committee and unsolicited comments from readers and sources, we intend to conduct a reader survey in 2007 to guide further improvements in future issues.

Reasons for and impact of new format:

  • More representative name. The original name of the magazine — “Prism” — did not convey the purpose of the magazine to target audiences. Since only three previous issues had been published, changing the nameplate did not cause us to lose brand identity.
  • Increased exposure. Increasing the press run (from 10,000 to 15,000) and increasing the frequency (from one to two issues annually) allows us to reach a larger audience more often. We’ve also shifted the primary target audience from an internal one to an external one.
  • More compelling writing. The redesign offers more storytelling rather than report-like writing, includes human-interest aspects of outreach activities, and draws from a more diverse source pool. The magazine now includes bylines, contributing authors, diverse layouts, stories of varying length, better headlines, better defined departments, and more entry points to stories through captions, headlines, teasers in the table of contents, pull quotes, subheads, and cover lines. The letter from the vice president was discontinued.
  • Improved visual appeal. Enclosing each page in a box gave Prism a dated look. Photos were small and color was not used effectively. While the old magazine had generous white space, it was often used ineffectively. In the redesign, Outreach magazine now uses professional photography, more diverse images including illustrations, and a minimized use of “grip and grin” photos. The goal is to use images to help tell the stories and provide an additional entry point.
  • Redesigned “Table of Contents.” The new table of contents is more engaging and includes teasers and photos to interest readers in the stories. By using a full spread, the contents pages have more impact. The departments and features are clearly identified. The publication box is less stuffy, more appealing, and fun.
  • Added new departments. The “Notebook” section was developed to allow for medium length articles and increase variation in story lengths. The “OutFront” department was added in the Winter 2007 issue and grew from the “Planting Seeds of Outreach” section in the previous issue. This department allows us to offer a range of short articles that deal with work that is just starting or is early in development. The “Profile” section was resurrected from the old magazine but in a fresh, Q&A format.