Online Exclusives

Behind the Scenes

Check out some of the audience feedback that helped shape this edition of Cal Poly Magazine.

Three issues of Cal Poly Magazine arranges on an orange, blue and creme background.

If you’re a reader of Cal Poly Magazine (and if you got to this page, you fit into that category), you should know that there’s a team of people on campus who think about you a whole lot. These days, that means thinking about what you want to read, how you want to read it, what you’d rather watch on video, and what you’d share with your nearest and dearest. It’s a crowded, noisy world out there fighting for a share of your mailbox, inbox and browser tabs. In November, we asked you how we could improve Cal Poly Magazine through our annual online survey. More than 1,400 of you spoke up. If that total included you, know how much we appreciate it.

We received feedback from all corners of the Cal Poly community, including alumni, parents, donors, faculty and staff. When we asked what college or program people felt closest to, we were pleased to see the response actually mirrored the size of each college in terms of student population (score!). Bottom line: we knew we were gathering perspectives that represented different majors equally.

Here’s what we found out, and what we’re doing with the data:

1.     Readers want it both ways.

Many magazines are toying with going all in on digital, but Cal Poly has preserved its print run. Nearly 50 percent of Cal Poly Magazine readers surveyed prefer a print copy of the magazine, 23 percent said they prefer digital, and 27 percent said they liked both print and digital. Our print edition will continue to reach our closest alumni, current parents, supporters and subscribers. Fear not, the digital edition will aim to reach everyone via email and social media. If you want to make sure you receive a print copy or email going forward, be sure to subscribe to the magazine.

2.     Depth, please.

A chart illustrating how Cal Poly Magazine readers rank types of content they want to read.When we asked about the preferred format of Cal Poly Magazine stories, our readers weren’t afraid of word count. Readers ranked different types of stories (from photo essays to infographics) and clearly preferred brief news articles; interactive, in-depth features; and Q&A interviews. On the other end of the spectrum, readers weren’t as excited about interactive maps and podcasts. In this issue, you’ll see that we’ve added a few news articles back to Polytechnic in lieu of the infographics we’ve used in issues past. We also stacked our Departments and Alumni sections with brief articles that help balance some longer, multi-media features.

3.     Don’t touch my class notes.

Nearly 1,000 readers, or 72 percent of those surveyed, said they read Class Notes, which upends a big trend in higher education to ditch these brief updates submitted by alumni. A significant portion of those Class Notes enthusiasts said they like to read notes from across the university about alumni from different generations. √ Got it! We’ve organized our web edition of Class Notes to be easy to scan across colleges and decades. We’ll continue to reach out via social media and email to gather class notes throughout the year for our fall and spring issues. If you want to mail in a class note, you can do that too! Here’s the address:

Cal Poly Magazine
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0900

4.     We’re helping folks feel closer to Cal Poly.

More than 90 percent of readers say that Cal Poly Magazine helps them feel more engaged with the university. That is our entire goal! If you took the time to share your thoughts in one of the open-ended response questions, know that we took the time to read it and use it to make this issue better than the last.

If you have other ideas of where we can improve, we want to hear it. Drop us a line at the address above or send an email to

And be on the look out for the 2019 reader survey this fall! We’ll continue to gather your input and work your feedback into future issues of Cal Poly Magazine.