Elon Magazine Publishing Startups Vie for Students’ Thumbs Up

Students in one magazine publishing class are crafting the art of the pitch this week in preparation for a panel of industry judges that will challenge their start-up ideas during their Thursday exam.

However, before they face the “dragon’s den,” they have to run the gauntlet of their own peers. From Monday, May 7, through Friday, May 11, Elon students are invited to comment and give thumbs up or down to the print prototype magazines on Issuu.com.

In COM 368 Magazine Publishing, taught by Assistant Professor Michelle Ferrier of the School of Communications, students have been doing market research, conducting competitive analyses, crafting media kits, writing content, designing prototypes, developing wireframes and strategizing about the editorial mission they think will win niche audiences. Students develop revenue streams and discuss marketing strategies that will help them grow print and online audiences.

Ferrier said the startup structure of the course allows students to learn how to dance with uncertainty, as their ideas die, morph and blossom with each iteration.

“I wanted to teach my students how to innovate whether they are inside a traditional media organization or developing an idea of their own,” Ferrier said. “The media landscape is so dynamic that students will most assuredly be working on a new technology or content idea from scratch. They will be part of a team testing ideas, failing and moving forward.”

Lexi Circle, a junior in strategic communications said that startup nature of the course gave her a better appreciation for entrepreneurship.

“I think it’s extremely important, since it gives you the necessary tools to succeed. In order to make any money in an industry filled with competitors, it’s key to know how to target an audience, maintain the support and ensure a lasting relationship that will keep your brand flourishing.”

Circle said that she would like to take the idea developed in class even further.

“It would apply my class work in a realistic setting and allow me to truly delve into the strengths and flaws of my ideas.”

A combination of judges’ evaluations, crowd favorites and teacher evaluation will determine the winning magazine proposal. Voting will remain open through 5 p.m. on Friday.

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