Merriam-Webster defines an “impression” as “an effect of alteration or improvement,” and “a characteristic, trait or feature resulting from some influence.” In short, making an impression is to affect the world around you. This year, the editorial staff of Maryville College’s literary magazine, “Impressions,” has been hard at work, launching a multi-faceted strategy to ensure the publication fulfills this namesake definition.
In the past, the “Impressions” staff has worked diligently to judge various submissions of poetry, prose and photography, edit the contributions accordingly, and assemble the annual publication, all before the end of the school year. However, despite months of planning and effort, the magazine has in previous years retained a less than significant presence on campus, resulting in minimal student involvement, few submissions and little acknowledgement for the contributions to the magazine and the publication, overall. Consisting of three editors, Emily Boren, Abby Davis and Olivia Daniel, the “Impressions” editorial staff is small, but is in a continual state of making plans and organizing ideas to improve the magazine’s reach on campus this year.
According to Davis, combating their challenges with campus involvement and impact not only involves distinguishing what potential issues led to them in the first place, but also requires making changes to supplement what the publication may have been lacking in previous years. “In the past, it’s been a lot more like ‘let’s just do what has been done before us’,” Davis said. “I don’t think we really ever did good PR on campus, so [“Impressions”] has kind of stayed hidden unless you’re a writing/ communications major. You didn’t really know what it was.”
So, in order to increase the number of submissions and raise awareness of the publication this year, the “Impressions” staff is aiming for an early start, launching a multi-step plan involving internal and external relationship building, promotional events and a complete overhaul of the magazine itself. As Davis explained, the staff is first working on fostering the relationships amongst those involved in the publication – staff members, editors and outside contributors – to essentially “build up from the inside out.”
The intent is to truthfully portray “Impressions” as not only as a publication with editors, but also as a team of unified staff members and contributors who work together to produce a magazine that showcases students’ art.
“We want to first get the whole group involved in the publication,” Davis said. “In the past, it’s been mostly the editors that are doing all the work. I know I didn’t feel as included when I was a writer.” These efforts are expected, in turn, to also draw more contributors in, appealing to potential contributors as a unified group, rather than a few editors picking and choosing what submissions are to be published.
“We’re not just following the basic outline from the past,” Davis said. “We’re trying to transform it, so people want to join because they are getting to help out with it…So that it is something you want to submit your work to.” In addition to improving internal relationships, the editorial staff is also taking on external outreach in hopes of raising awareness of the publication and further appealing to possible contributors. According to Boren, “Impressions’” primary outreach strategies are rooted in public relations practices, particularly event hosting.
Over last three months, “Impressions” has hosted an “Open Mic Night” at Southland Books and set up “Howee’s Impression” booths during homecoming weekend in Pearson’s, Isaac’s and at the football game. Both events received a significant amount of response from the MC community, serving to promote the magazine and keep the publication in participants’ minds. “
Part of our reasoning behind all of the stuff we’ve already done is PR,” Boren said. “We want to be more promotional on campus and get our name out there, and I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of that in the first three months.” Another facet of these events is to establish an audience outside of the languages and literature department and encourage other majors to take part in the magazine, as well. Boren explained that the events are designed to engage students of all disciplines and artists of all types.
“In the past, we’d have events, but they wouldn’t be catered to a broader audience,” Boren said. “I think we’ve done a good job of trying to incorporate the broader audience of Maryville College into our events and everything we’ve done.” Daniel agreed, explaining that she believes the magazine’s potential would be surpassed if more students of all on interests would simply take part in the publication. “We really want to get involved with majors that are less expected to be involved with “Impressions,” Daniel said. Overall, Boren intends to remind students that “Impressions” is a campus- produced magazine, and hopes more people will take ownership within the publication.
“We want to not go away from languages and literature, but incorporate more of the college,” Boren said. “It’s an MC thing, not just a languages and literature thing. That’s what we want it to be.” The editorial staff has made additional moves to help the magazine appeal to every individual on campus, moving away from previous years’ format and style. This year’s publication will be sectioned and will include features student theses and professors’ published work. A greater variety of types of submissions will also run in the magazine in hopes of including something for everyone to enjoy.
“Part of what we’re doing is trying to get more into a magazine format,” Boren said. Even though they are deviating from guidelines laid out in previous years, Daniel said the changes will only benefit the magazine and that they are something to be regarded as exciting. “We have a bigger vision,” Daniel said. Boren explained that the staff will entertain and seriously consider any type of artistic expression for the magazine, so long as it is not deemed offensive. As Boren explained, everyone’s primary goal for “Impressions” this year is to simply make an impression.
“We want to make something out of this,” Boren said. “We want to make a name for ourselves on campus because right now we don’t really have one.” The staff is anticipating submissions of all kinds, including poetry, prose, photography, artwork, comics, original song lyrics/raps and anything else contributors wish to submit.
This semester, submissions are due by Nov. 30 via email at impressions@ my.maryvillecollege.edu. A cover art contest is also being held with the first place submission being featured on the front, and the second place winner displayed on the back. Entries for the contest are also due by Nov. 30 via email at impressions@ my.maryvillecollege.edu.