Omicron Delta Kappa conducted a readership survey for The Circle in September and October 2019. The data revealed that it is clear that members read the publication to be reminded of their collegiate experience and to be connected to their circle.
There were a total of 1,757 respondents. In addition to specific questions about the magazine, the survey also included several items related to member communications in general as well as demographic information. Below is a summary of the data.
The methods in which members acquire information about Omicron Delta Kappa were identified in the following order (highest at the top):
- Emails from O∆K
- The Circle
- Word of mouth/communications with other members
The younger the respondents, the less likely these members are to trust The Circle as a credible source of information about O∆K.
The most popular actions taken as a result of reading The Circle are as follows: visit the website, saved an article or issue, discussed or forwarded an article or issue, recommended O∆K to a potential member, submitted an information update, and made a donation.
Nearly half of the respondents (48.61%) indicated that reading The Circle strengthens a connection with Omicron Delta Kappa. Only 7.04% responded that reading the magazine does not enhance the bond. A total of 44.36% noted that reading The Circle does not impact a level of connection.
- Gender of respondents: female (55.79%), male (42.36%), non-binary (0.55%), and prefer not to answer (1.31%)
- Age: under 25 (30.53%), 25 to 34 (17.71%), 35 to 49 (15.85%), 50 to 64 (14.27%), 65 and older (21.64%)
- Classification of member: current collegiate (19.9%), post-collegiate (75.07%), faculty/staff (8.82%), other (6.4%)
Magazine Readership Habits
- Method for reading the circle: in print (33.11%), online (57.2%), both (9.69%)
- Amount read each issue: none (24.68%), some (44.88%), most (22.58%), all (7.86%)
- Frequency of reading: never read an issue (25.65%), read occasional issues (32.16%), read most issues (22.25%), read every issue (19.94%)
- Typical retention of issue: do not receive in print (47.93%), discard immediately (4.72%), keep up to one week (14.79%), keep up to one month (16.97%), keep for more than one month (15.59%)
- Time spent reading: do not read (25.25%), 1 to 9 minutes (17.5%), 10 to 29 minutes (31.95%), 30 to 59 minutes (18.89%), one hour or more (6.41%)
Most individuals found the quality of The Circle to be satisfactory. The following are the percentages for those respondents who indicated that an aspect of the magazine was either excellent or good:
- Content (75.18%)
- Cover (75.63%)
- Ease of reading (79.13%)
- Layout and design (76.57%)
- Photography (76.98%)
- Writing (81.41%)
Compliments and Concerns
- The top compliments from the respondents focused on how the publication makes members feel connected to the Society, one’s circle, and one’s alma mater. Ease of reading and availability, overall content, and recognition of member achievements were all identified as well-liked aspects of the publication.
- The top concern is that the publication is primarily seen as a fundraising tool and that it does not reflect the experience of the majority of the members. There were also many responses that indicated that there needs to be greater balance in the representation of circles profiled in each issue.
Content Analysis by Age
In analyzing the data, there were some distinct preferences identified in relation to the current collegiate and recent graduate respondents (25 and under) and all other respondents.
- Collegiate members/recent graduates indicated that they were most interested in scholarship recipients, conference updates, and awards (circle recognition, Leader of the Year, etc.).
- All respondents noted that leadership topics, feature stories, and circle news were of greatest interest.
- Across all respondents, the donor honor roll, organizational financials, and fundraising updates were identified as the least popular topics. Scholarship recipient profiles, for individuals above 25, were identified as the fourth least popular topic.
- For individuals above the age of 25, content related to the convention and collegiate announcements was identified as not being relevant.
Content Analysis by Topic
- The following topics were identified as recommended subject matter: issues facing higher education, health and health care, environmental issues, and global/international concerns.
- The following topics were considered to be somewhat less important for The Circle: arts and culture, science/technology/engineering, and business and industry.
- Topics related to religion were identified as the least important.
- In addition to more circle-specific content, the following other topics were frequently suggested by the respondents: social issues (race, LGBTQ leadership, climate change, campus culture, etc.), O∆K history (now and then articles), career and leadership advice, and how to benefit from membership or being engaged in O∆K after graduation.
- Political leadership was identified by some as a topic of interest; anything remotely political was also identified by others as a complaint about The Circle.
- In recognition of preference for online communications, discontinue sending to collegiate members in print.
- Evaluate font (potentially switch to a serif font in the interest of readability).
- Include more circle content (using annual reports to create up to 50 2-3 sentence profiles in each issue on a rotating basis and/or adding features about how circles make a difference on their campuses and in their communities).
- Increase recognition of the circles of the scholarship recipients.
- Consider reduction of pages in the honor roll of donors (only acknowledging those individuals who give more than $100 a year in print; acknowledge all donors in the online version).
- Expand member achievement notes
- Continue with the thematic approach to issues and add more feature stories if possible.
- Change back page to be a member or circle profile or another form of advertisement; move giving advertisement inside the publication.
- Reduce columns from three to one and produce on a rotation (Board Chair, President, Student Vice Chair).
- Add info-grams with fun facts profiling the collegiate membership (majors, areas of leadership such as athletics/student government/arts, other aspects of campus and community involvement).
- Add smaller features and sidebars (more like news briefs) related to theme topics throughout each issue.