College 2011 mailer from Target includes more than coupons

Target Mailer to 2011 College Students

Target hits the mark in three areas

I don’t typically write about advertisements. But this one deserves the spotlight. The design, the content and the practicality of this mailer is perfectly geared toward my age group – something that I don’t find very often even in newspapers. The heavy weighted paper is also a sign that Target didn’t skimp out when they created this project. It’s a nice bright white, giving the colors a rich and pleasing tone.

1. Content is engaging and pertinent

One of my favorite aspects of this ad has to be the content. SEO (search engine optimization) specialists have already got this one figured out: good content attracts good customers (and gives better ranking to websites). I don’t see many print ads use quality content very often attract customers. This ad does.

Target mailer 2011

The content I’m referring to includes a series of six short blog-style articles peppered throughout the mailer. Written by college students, for college students, the articles offer advice on how to manage your time at college, organize your space and keep in touch with family. It’s great to see content written by peers, especially since the topics are both practical and fun to read.

2. Checklists and coupons are useful

Flip open to the front page and top of page 2 has six brightly colored columns dedicated to the college 2011 checklist – all items sold by Target, of course. But what do you expect? It’s an ad, after all. And if you want to build your own checklist, Target has an easy online layout that lets you shop and build your own personal checklist.

Target 2011 College Mailer

Scattered throughout the mailer, Target included other lists of advice and short words of wisdom from college students who have survived this particular stage of life. I’ve no doubt parents will eat this up just as much (if not more) than their children.

So sure all this is fine for freshmen who still don’t have a clue about college. Target didn’t forget the large population of students returning to college, though. Flip to page 13 and you’ll find 20 coupons, many of which I plan to utilize. Parents and students have reason to appreciate this mailer from Target.

3. Targets audience with appropriate design

Okay, love the design. The colors are bright and perfectly reflect the current trends in college dorm decoration. Page spreads utilize the space well without overcrowding, so it is far from the typical Sunday ad.

Target 2011 College Mailer

And while the prices are easy to locate for all items, they aren’t emphasized. The products stand forefront and are arranged topically. So the page on how to organize your space includes products such as shelves, over-the-door hangers and bed stands to make the most of space under the bed.

Target 2011 College Mailer

Well, that’s all for now! I’m just very grateful to see an ad target my age so well. It was fun to read through and gave me some great coupons.

I hope to cover this a little more in the future, but we’ll see.

Later! Riah


Buy Google Plus on eBay or wait to be invited by a friend

It’s an interesting thought — Facebook no longer ruling the world. In some ways it’s hard to grasp considering how long Facebook has been around. Most of us grew up with the blue-faced social media site.

The latest and greatest Google Plus

But now there is a new social media site out to challenge the giant. It is, not surprisingly, from Google and called Google Plus. From what I’ve read, it looks like a brand new approach to social media from a search engine giant that is out to conquer the beast; in the process Google may even change the very way we find and optimize sites for the web.

While it feels too early to know what kind of impact this will actually have, I’m not ready to underestimate Google. They’ve put a lot of work into this, and apparently it is quite different from Buzz and other failed attempts at social media by google.

For those who want to get Google plus (also referred to as Google+), you’ll have to either know someone who can invite you or be one of the extremely luck ones who was invited by Google. Due to the popularity of this new test social site, those invites are really hard to find. If you’re willing to pay a little money, there are several hundred eBay sellers claiming they can get you in — for a small fee, of course.

In the meantime, enjoy Facebook. Theres no telling how much longer it will rule the world. And if you have an extra invite to Google Plus, I’m definitely looking to try it out for myself.

Note: I don’t think it’s a good idea to go and buy an invite from anyone. Google is opening and closing the window of opportunity at their discretion. So even if someone sends you an invite, it may not work unless the window is open. There’s no telling when Google Plus users will be able to invite more people, but as of a few minutes ago, it still wasn’t possible. Guess I’ll just have to keep waiting and hoping.

A few good reasons to redesign your college or university newspaper

Why not? That’s the real question. While professionals in the newspaper business have written about the advantages of redesigning traditional newspapers, there are some differences between a college newspaper and a general newspaper redesign. First, the main reason behind a redesign of, say, the Charlotte Observer would be to drive more sales. Make the paper look fresh and maybe more people will be tempted to pick it up. However, college newspapers are not sold; we give them away. So what is our motivation to slave away on InDesign and Photoshop during the summer?

It’s a good question and one you might consider answering before committing yourself wholeheartedly to this monstrous (or small) redesign. But here are some reasons for thought that sum up why I am pursuing a redesign:

  1. There’s nothing quite like seeing good work published, especially when you created it. At first I only knew the extreme excitement of getting an article published, now I get to enjoy working with others and becoming way overexcited when our work gets published.
  2. Perhaps this should be first, but I love seeing people pick up the newspaper and actually find it interesting. I think, with this redesign, our newspaper will become more focused toward our age group and more engaging.
  3. I want my college newspaper to be on the cutting edge of technology and design trends. Let’s show off our awesome talent in a bold way and not hide behind a shabby design outdated 20 years ago. Other newspapers are limited by their audience, advertisements and editors. We are only limited by our imaginations…and a few common sense guidelines.

No matter how your college or university newspaper is set up, don’t settle for average. Go for the best newspaper this country has ever seen. Take your newspaper to a whole new level this year and, whatever you do, make sure you bring your readers with you. Bring it to a level above their expectations so they will be excited each week (or day) to pick up your publication.

Why your college newspaper should be redesigned

Personal Update

I know, I know. It has been almost a month since I last updated this blog. But, believe me, I have a very good reason for being tardy. Not long after my last post, I applied for a web copywriting internship at a marketing company near my hometown. And guess what! That’s what I have been up to for the past few weeks. I couldn’t be happier, too. This internship has been an incredible opportunity to learn more about corporate writing and develop my writing skills through constant practice.

Because I end up spending almost eight hours a day writing, I’ve found it very difficult to come home and find more time to write. It has also been difficult to find time to work on the Collegian redesign, but that’s also been combined with technical difficulties. So here I am, enjoying the summer by doing what I have come to truly enjoy, writing. Don’t think the redesign won’t happen, because it will. We may just have to be a little creative in accomplishing it.

Why your college or university newspaper should be redesigned

And I would encourage you to consider redesigning your newspaper too. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but the world changes very quickly; design does too. There will always be new trends, new styles and new perspectives. In everything else in life beside newspapers, dictionaries and obituaries, it seems the design is updated regularly. Even cookbooks and the Wal-Mart brand go through redesigns.

Resist change, get left behind

For some reason, journalists tend to resist change when it comes to their occupation; but I think we’ve seen enough in the past nine years to know that unless you are willing to be flexible, you will get left behind. That doesn’t mean I advocate taking on a new set of values; on the contrary, hold tight to the truth and to your determination to serve the people, but consider being flexible in your presentation. So many newspapers are still so very far behind when it comes to design and technology. As a result, the entire field of journalism has suffered.

Newspaper design says a lot about your newspaper’s identity

If you believe that actions speak louder than words, then consider this: the way you present the news may speak louder about your newspaper than the very articles you write. Your newspaper front page design does matter. And so do the inside pages and every last detail. The way you present your content also says a lot about your newspaper’s identity. And maybe it’s time you created a new identity for your newspaper that matches your audience. Redesigning your newspaper can help you accomplish this.

If you’re a journalist and you still disagree, consider this:

If you’re a college student studying traditional journalism, research graphic design and learn more about page layouts. Believe it or not, this will help you develop better content. When you have a better idea of how your content can be presented, your mind will be broadened to greater possibilities. Give it a shot. You might actually find you enjoy page layout.

If you’re a graphic designer, you already agree…BUT!

If you’re a graphic designer, try to understand journalists and the world they come from. Write a story or two so you can see what it takes to put together the content you so often wish you had. When designing a page, it’s easy to see the content and visual opportunities a journalist missed. With writing experience, though, you will be better able to offer advice to journalists when they are working on a story, and they might even listen.

Just do it

And now that I’ve ranted to you about redesigning your college newspaper, it’s time I check out for the night and brainstorm some more ideas for my student newspaper.

Live long and prosper!

A new summer, a new theme

What’s next? I’ve been thinking about that question a lot in the past few weeks. I began The Collegiate Angle as an assignment for my Newsgathering class this past spring, and it has turned out to be an incredible learning experience in many ways. My class is over, though. But I don’t view this as the end. I put in a lot of work and in the process I’ve found I truly enjoy blogging about my interests in journalism and design. So I view this summer a new beginning with a theme of its own.

For the past few months, I have focused on broadsheet design and how newspapers and college newspapers approach their front page layout. I found this worked out well since the Asbury Collegian is broadsheet and that was my particular interest. It still is of great interest to me, but I’m moving in a different area of research now.

The Asbury Collegian is going through a redesign this summer, and, while I won’t ruin the surprise for my college friends, my posts will be geared toward tips on how to do redesigns and my new interest in tabloid design. I may also add a few posts here and there about fascinating designers and newspapers.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to my professor who taught the Newsgathering class, Prof. Wheeler. If you haven’t already read his insightful article on SEO (search engine optimization) and how it is affecting witty headlines published in The Atlantic, I highly recommend it. You can check out his blog, The Deadline Diaries.

How to build better front page packages using Buck Ryan’s Maestro Concept

I was in Nashville, Tenn. last month attending one of Tim Harrower‘s workshops when I heard mention of a curious concept called the Maestro Concept. It’s the idea that if you spend a little time incorporate planning, your team will be able to create complete packages for a dominate story.

Have you ever had an experience where a reporter comes in with a story that has the potential to be a perfect front page story but lacked photos, a clear angle or other catchy info graphics or visuals? So at the last minute you try to pull together some pictures (that probably aren’t exactly what you’re looking for) and end up giving your graphic editor some grief with a last minute request for something visually attractive to go along with the story.

It happens in my college’s student news room all the time. Students will send in stories of events or important issues without having any pictures or info I can use to create fast fact boxes.

So what can you do about it? Buck Ryan, the creator of the Maestro concept, has been encouraging news rooms for years to pick a maestro who will orchestrate the stories from infancy to publication.

There are several key elements to the concept. The two I particularly latched on to as a college student are group meetings and coaching writers. The group meeting can occur during a budget meeting but I think it would be better to have a more intimate meeting with the writer working on the top story of the week/day, a photographer, designer and anyone else who would be key to getting the story package.

And sometimes this idea requires team members to rethink some of their habits.

Buck said in an e-mail,
“Maestro requires a new way of thinking for editors (they need to coach reporters to improve focus and time management); for reporters (they need complete their reporting with a sketch in mind and the task of writing sidebars first, suggested headlines and captions); for designers (reader questions drive the design); and for photographers (they write the “lead,” where readers start the story).”

Depending on how your newspaper approaches the whole process, this idea can take more or less work implementing than it would take to implement in my college’s student newspaper. But Tim Harrower said in a recent e-mail that it is worth the work.

Tim said,
I’ve seen papers transform the way they collaborate using the maestro process. Especially smaller papers. That’s the main reason I keep promoting it so heavily. I’ve seen night-and-day transformations in college papers, in particular — which seem to have a hard time getting reporters to take the time for pre-planning. But when they do, the results are often dramatic. (And even incremental improvements — simply adding a sidebar to a story, for example — can increase the readability and usefulness of a story in a subtle way.)

Buck also gave a few tips for college students or professionals who want to give it a go.

Buck said,
Start with one big story and one small team (editor, reporter, photog, designer) who gets the idea. See the process all the way through, celebrate success, offer critique on how to do it better and master the next time, and keep going with the one team until you have a record of success. Then let that team bring along the rest of the staff.

If you want to learn more about Buck’s ideas, check out his book “The Editor’s Toolbox: a Reference Tool for Beginners and Professionals.

Updated Resources

I’ve done some work updating the resources page of this site. As I do more research, I find new people and places to get news on newspapers, design and journalism. I’m interested to know what resources you use or know of. Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment if you think my resource page is missing an important site. And yes, you can self promote if it’s a legit site. I’ll still check it out.


Here are a few good posts I came across today:

Matt French’s review of iPad applications. There’s still a lot to be wanted in these applications, but do I see a hint of hope in this platform? =)

Allan Mutter’s post about getting online subscribers to pay for content. He’s got some great background on what has been tried in the past. I’m curious to know how The Daily is doing. This post by Rory-Cellan Jones investigates the iPad and The Daily further.

And Ron Reason covers the ever so popular topic of the future of print and newspaper advertising.