How to Write Alumni Profiles that Tell Your Story
NOTE: This article is adapted from an online article by Nell Kauls.
Prospective camp families want to know what positive impact camp will have for their children, and your website content needs to answer them in an authentic way. Enter alumni profiles.
An alumni profile is a short article that profiles an adult who attended camp. It contains information about the adult's current life and reflections the ways camp made a difference in their life.
Real success stories are the most effective way to show prospective camp families the value of your program. Profiles are also a way to engage alumni in helping you fulfill your mission. Making alumni part of your web-site and marketing content creation process is a way to build and deepen their ties to your institution. Your alumni have many interesting stories to share and are often very pleased to be asked.
Tips for Writing Alumni Profiles
Use the following tips to write effective alumni profiles for your website.
- Include name, title, company, and years at camp and/or on camp staff.
- Include accomplishments, such as a recent award received or a special project.
- Provide "where are they now?" information. You can also use this information to populate "Class Notes" sections of newsletters and web pages. This feature is a way to attract other alumni (not just prospective campers) to your website.
- Include quotes and information about the ways the alumnus used his/her camp experience to improve his/her life, career, family, or Jewish identity. Focus on those items that are the most compelling and have had the greatest impact (for example, "At camp, I learned to trust myself and never to be afraid to try new things, and I used this lesson every day as an entrepreneur ...").
- Many times you need to take license with a quote to make it carry the message more clearly. Make sure the alumnus reviews and approves any changes you make. These quotes can find their way into testimonials, ads, press releases, and brochures. They are great information to get and have in your content management system.
- Highlight the ways in which the alumnus built relationships with fellow campers, established a strong Jewish identity, and/or developed self-confidence.
- Present anecdotes about hobbies or interests that started at camp and that have continued to become life-long interests.
- Customize questions to the alumnus being interviewed. Focus on interesting and current industry trends.
- Create testimonials from the content you gather for these profiles. A collection of 2 to 3 compelling quotes is all you need to create a testimonial.
- Use words your readers care about. Use a keyword generating tool to discover new words for your website content. Google AdWords offers a free tool.
- Keep online profiles brief (4 to 5 short paragraphs). You can write longer, detailed profiles for newsletters and other publications.
- If possible, conduct the interview by phone or face to face. You will often get more and better information this way because it's not the first question that gets you the story; it's the question that comes out of the first question. E-mailing your questionnaire to an alumnus is, however, more convenient and the information comes back to you in electronic format.
- Request a recent photo or arrange to take a new picture to accompany your alumnus profile. See if you can locate a photo of the alumnus's past at camp (from the camp yearbook, for example). Readers love seeing side-by-side, "now and then" photos.
- Remember to thank anyone you profile for their time and cooperation.
Use the questions below as a starting point for your conversations with an alumni for profile material.
- What degrees or training do you have? From what schools?
- What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally)?
- How did you become interested in your field?
- What do you enjoy most about your current career position?
- What have been the biggest challenges in your career? Did your experiences at camp help you to overcome obstacles you've faced as an adult?
- In what ways has your camp experience had an impact on your career and who you are today?
- Describe any significant relationships with fellow campers. How did your friendships with other campers help you?
- What advice would you give to younger alumni or current campers who aspire to follow a similar career path?
- What was the best activity you did at camp? Do you have a favorite camp staff member or counselor?
- Do you have a favorite or funny story about your time at camp?
- What do you enjoy doing with your free time? Family? Hobbies? Interests?
- What would you say to a prospective camp family who are considering camp X?