UCLA Anderson partners with Adobe to create an award-winning magazine.
GUEST COLUMN | by Nathan May
What began as an alumni magazine for UCLA Anderson School of Management has grown into something much more: a brand differentiator for the school that underscores its commitment to innovation.
Assets Digital is a reinvention of Assets, a printed magazine that was discontinued last year in favor of an interactive edition optimized for the iPad. In doing so, UCLA Anderson expanded its potential readership from a mailing list of 35,000 alumni to a global audience that includes prospective and current students, faculty, business leaders and colleagues at peer institutions.
“Assets Digital is an exciting new tool to share information with our students, alumni and faculty,” says Judy Olian, dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management. “Assets Digital leverages the iPad platform to offer mobile and interactive connectivity and convenience to our community of users, wherever they are in the world. We’re proud that it’s the first of its kind among business school publications.”
The switch went beyond paper to pixels. Every aspect of Assets was reconsidered. Covers became experiences, with animations and music. The Dean’s Letter turned into a video. Articles morphed from words and pictures to whatever storytelling tools best fit the subject, including infographics, photo and video galleries and live feeds. The frequency of the magazine remained thrice-annually, but real-time calendars and Twitter feeds were added to deliver fresh content throughout the year. “Assets Digital brings stories to life with media-rich and interactive features that go beyond standard business school print and digital publications,” says Eric Mokover, former UCLA Anderson associate dean of external affairs and executive director of alumni relations. “This new app is another example of thoughtful experimentation at UCLA Anderson.
Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) was instrumental, removing the barriers of programming from the workflow so that editors and designers could focus on storytelling. “The DPS platform provides a foundation for more innovation. Virtual tours, in-app networking events and the ability to take donations from within the app are just some of the possibilities,” says Joe Zeff, president of Joe Zeff Design. “And, as Assets evolves, it reflects the values of the university, faculty, students and alumni it represents in a way that a printed magazine never could.”
The app presents stories about individuals, companies and trends in a way that allows users to engage with content rather than simply reading words on a page. The new form allows for expanded, highly visual accents to the magazine’s strong storytelling ethos. App-only specials bring enhanced experiences to readers, as well as creating a natural app-subscription draw. In fact, the visual communications trade journal Communication Arts recognized Assets with an editorial award from its 2013 Photography Annual competition. “Winter in Kentucky,” part of “Adventures in Bourbon Country” from Assets’ second digital issue, won for photographer Justin Fantl and creative director Charlie Hess. The photo gallery follows the “bourbon trail” story from water to whiskey and adds creative punch to the profile of Anderson alumni Bob Eidson’s (’09) The Bourbon Review start-up venture.
Each issue has been more dynamic than the one before, and Issue 3, currently in production, promises to be even more feature-rich. “The new Assets Digital allows our global alumni network of approximately 35,000 the opportunity to connect with Anderson in a dynamic way, so that every issue becomes a networking event beyond the magazine itself,” says Glenn Lyday (’03), UCLA Anderson alumni board of directors president. “This new publication can now easily connect our global audiences, whether they’re in San Francisco, Shanghai or Sao Paulo.”
An Alumni Hub screen that includes video, web links and access to social networks that alumni can connect to anytime and from anywhere provides multifaceted connectivity to that worldwide community. Networking becomes a global phenomena attuned to a shrinking global marketplace. Rather than mixers and meet-and-greets—which still have their place for those local alumni—reaching out to possible business partners is the proverbial click away.
The same holds true for the university. Staying connected to an alumni network on an ever-expanding footprint requires considerable effort. Enabling a real-time communication pathway, one that receives even as it gives, enhances the experience for both parties. The school presents its own success stories, keeps alumni up to date and takes in valuable feedback. This loop fosters closer ties with the group most affected by the school’s triumphs, as well as its needs.
UCLA Anderson has received considerable attention for Assets Digital. Along with the Communication Arts award, the school was listed among the top 10 universities in social media and the publication was featured last month on Adobe’s website.
‘Thinking in the next’ is how Dean Judy Olian describes our commitment to innovation at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Tap into Assets Digital and hear more of what she has to say about this.
Nathan May is Director of Digital Communications, UCLA Anderson School of Management. Read Assets Digital for yourself.
I took a peek, and it looks wonderful. What is the revenue model? Or is it fully supported by the university?