Periodical Resources Management - Tabloids and Newsletters: University of Dayton - Gold Medal

Category 24B: Periodical Resources Management: Tabloids and Newsletters
University of Dayton, University of Dayton Quarterly

Contact: Thomas Columbus, editor, Public Relations, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-1679, Phone: (937) 229-3259, e-mail:

Planning, goals and objectives: The university mission statement: The University of Dayton is a comprehensive Catholic university, a diverse community committed, in the Marianist tradition, to educating the whole person and to linking learning and scholarship with leadership and service.

The mission of the advancement division of the university includes developing a sustainable donor base and building alumni pride.
The primary objective of the University of Dayton Quarterly is to demonstrate to its audiences of alumni, parents and donors how the University of Dayton is achieving its mission and thus deepen their pride. A secondary objective is to further deepen the bond between the university and its alumni through services such as the publication of class notes, notices of alumni events and other alumni-related information.
Planning is an integrated, ongoing process. The University of Dayton Quarterly is produced by the same department that prepares messages for the university president, produces key student recruitment publications, does local and national media relations, and works with development and alumni relations staff on a variety of advancement communications.

Audiences: All alumni, donors, employees and parents of current students

Staffing: No one is dedicated full-time to the University of Dayton Quarterly (UDQ). The staff is roughly 1.5 full-time-equivalent members: .7 editor, .4 art director, .4 other editors. Freelancers write class notes and alumni profiles and contribute some art.

That much of the University’s communication is integrated into one office (called public relations) helps provide a number of voices for UDQ.

The “other editors” include the publications director and the two editors of the semi-annual magazines for each of the professional schools. The publications director, who is a contributing writer and proofreader for UDQ, besides being the publications group’s manager also edits the campus newsletter (and e-newsletter) and writes and edits enrollment management’s major pieces. The editor of the Dayton Educator (who also works with the alumni relations on its communications) edits UDQ’s alumni section. The editor of the Dayton Business Leader, the Dayton Engineer and the Dayton Lawyer is also a contributing writer and proofreader for UDQ. And the media relations staff has contributed features as well as news.
The entire public relations staff meets weekly, as do the editors; production scheduling meetings alternate with content ones (though much discussion of content occurs because of the staff working in close quarters). The willingness of each editor to shift from that role to being a staff member on another project enhances both productivity and effectiveness.

Circulation: 96,500

Frequency: Quarterly

Pages per issue: 48

Total annual budget (not including salaries) and use of resources: $178,500 ($169,000 printing, $9,500 freelance)

Cost per issue: $44,625

Unit cost: $.46 (not including salaries and postage)
Although UDQ is trimmed and stitched, its paper stock (compared to magazines, at least) is relatively inexpensive.

The print UDQ is supplemented by an e-mail newsletter (New from UDQ) and a Web site (UDQuickly), a blog (created and supported by the “other editors”) with short items and photos updated at least twice weekly. The newsletter has 25,000 subscribers. Reminders in New from UDQ about class note deadlines keep UDQ’s voluntarily submitted class note volume high. The newsletter also promotes the print periodical and vice versa. UDQuickly averages more than 1,000 visits to the main page per week; that spikes to about 3,000 in New from UDQ weeks. The average visitor views more than three pages.

The freelance budget delivers high quality for relatively few dollars. UDQ’s art director, through contacts developed through his newspaper days, has a network of artists for whom UDQ provides a creative outlet not generally available in their daily work. Among the freelance writers is a former editor for the department whose knowledge of the University makes her distinctly valuable. Alumni who worked in the PR office as students contribute work from as far away as Portland and Paris.

Mailing an issue: The printer that we use for three of 2006’s four issues allowed us the ability to take advantage of a co-mingling mailing process. This allowed us to reduce postage costs even as our distribution increased. The process sorted our outgoing mail by geographic area and then bundled it with other mail going to the same areas. An issue mailed in November 2005, before this process, cost $21,709 to mail 90,540 copies. A year later, with co-mingling, it cost $21,296 to mail 98,714 copies. The unit cost of postage thus declined form $.240 to $.216.

So volume increased nine percent while cost declined two percent.

In 2007, we are investigating whether or not a change in our postal designation will be beneficial at this time.

Response and results:

Class notes: All class notes are voluntarily submitted. Together with alumni profiles, they average 12 pages per issue.

E-mail newsletter subscriptions: Approximately 25,000 readers have subscribed voluntarily to the supplemental e-mail newsletter New from UDQ. Reminders of upcoming class note deadlines bring in hundreds of notes.

Surveys: Over the years, telephone surveys consistently show that more than nine out of 10 alumni read the University of Dayton Quarterly and more than eight out of 10 alumni read at least some of the features. The last such survey found that the primary source of information for alumni about the University of Dayton is by far the University of Dayton Quarterly. E-mail-driven, Web-based surveys since then reinforce that fact.

2006 questionnaire: In October 2006, a link in New from UDQ drove readers to a Web questionnaire regarding the University of Dayton Quarterly. Approximately 800 alumni responded.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents indicated that they read all or most of UDQ. Respondents indicated they spent an average of more than 30 minutes per person per issue.

Extrapolating these numbers to our total circulation would indicate that the UD community spends 193,000 hours per year reading the University of Dayton Quarterly.

The most-read sections are the Front Porch, Class Notes and Features.

Readers were asked, “How do you get most of your information about UD? Pick the top three ways.” The University of Dayton Quarterly remains the top source.
No. 1 source of information:
43 percent - University of Dayton Quarterly
27 percent - Friends, family, word-of-mouth
12 percent - UDQ’s companion newsletter and blog (New from UDQ and UDQuickly, which can be viewed at
8 percent- University of Dayton Web sites

Other sources include school magazines, the mass media and departmental newsletters.

Several hundred respondents made open-ended suggestions and comments. Some examples:

  • “I like the large format.”
  • “I wish it was smaller.”
  • “I like that you print dissenting letters. … My financé was just complaining about his alumni newsletter and how it’s all propaganda with no space for discussion.”
  • “I’m so proud of UD for putting out a quarterly with ‘content’ instead of a high gloss brochure with class notes and a few stories on sports and new buildings. UD’s philosophy comes through loud and clear.