English Department Back Cover Newsletter Narrative
The Back Cover is Elon University’s semi-annual English Department newsletter. It contains articles about student’s achievements, profiles professors, and highlights classes for the upcoming semesters. This edition was assigned to a me and a group of students in a consulting class, where projects were done with consultants outside of the classroom as a way to apply our Professional Writing and Rhetoric abilities to a really publication.
When my group received the newsletter it had had lower readership in the past. Therefore, we designed a research forum before we began writing in order to determine better ways to write and market the newsletter. We took particular interest in our audience. Although the newsletter was geared towards English majors we wanted to see if other majors and undecided majors were reading or would want to read to newsletter as well. After we conducted some research we found that people interested in English, either majoring in it or not, were our target audience. Therefore, we include articles from both majors and minors and tried to open up our resources in order to attract the maximize number of readers.
On this project I was able to work with a small group of two other members. This allowed different and new ideas to flow into our project at all times due to the different perspectives we all had. We implemented rhetorical theories into how we went about solving the problem of low readership. After our focus groups and surveys had been collected and examined we realized that The Back Cover was missing some key rhetorical elements.
Design came up a lot when evaluating our surveys. People liked pictures and images and wanted those to be implemented into the newsletter. From a rhetorical standpoint I associate this with pathos. The readers wanted to feel a personal, potentially emotional, connection to the people discussed in the articles. When reading about a new professor, they wanted to see a picture of them so that they could connect even more. Therefore, we implemented many images into our version.
When thinking about our client, the English Department, we also had to consider what they would want in the newsletter. We tried to write the articles mainly about English majors or professors, but in one case we branched out with a literature minor. We tried to find articles that dealt with professors and students from all the different areas of the department, from Literature, to Creative Writing, and obviously some Professional Writing and Rhetoric majors.
With that being said, apart from the newsletter, our group also wrote a Client Memo to our client. This was intended to inform them of our process and explain our rhetorical reasoning for the things that we did. Looking back at this document I have begun to see places where more detail and specificities about the project would have added to the overall awareness for our client of the work that we actually put in. I think this proved as an important learning experience though. If I were to do it again I would certainly add more detail about our particular process and go into more of the specifics about the things that we changed in our new version and why those changes were necessary.
Overall, the projects lent to growth in my own personal view of rhetoric, as well as produce a concrete newsletter for the English Department. I also truly enjoyed working with such a compact document. With only two pages we had to figure out how to fit everything in the space, especially when we had so many informative articles. It was helpful to be able to work with a productive group that allowed for decisions, like our compact issue, to be made informatively and purposefully.