By Lauren Bellatti, Oklahoma State
Stepping into Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is sort of like stepping into Kappaland — it’s a world all its own. Where else do you put your work day on pause for a wedding serenade on the front steps of the office (watch our “Oh, Pat” remix here), or quickly convert your apartment into a movie set so the Fraternity president can star in a video shoot?
Still, my first days as the communications intern taught me to see Kappa more holistically. Kappa is a story-based organization. Each department of Kappa from museums to education, even finance, has information and a story needing to be heard. The communications department works to share those stories. It’s a lot of moving parts.
One example of these intricate interworkings is the production of The Key. Working on The Key gave me the opportunity to get my hands dirty and experience what making a publication with a circulation of 175,000 actually entails. For example, spending at least eight hours preparing for an interview with World Cup champion Kelley O’Hara showed me that to have one line of usable copy, you need much more research than you might think. I saw firsthand how much time feature stories take because of all the prep and proofing that go into them. In fact, the summer edition of The Key sitting in your house right now began coming to life last December.
Pieces that are in every issue, like Key Achievements and The Grand Tour, are usually begun first. Features really are a feat — all that work actually begins about four months before the magazine is dropped in your mailbox. The Key is captained by an editorial board of 15 volunteers who oversee the vision and creation of the magazine. Equipped with a variety of expertise and perspectives, each board member is a part of the proofing process in order to produce the best publication possible. Generally, a month before the magazine is sent to the printer the board receives a fully designed preview of the final product. There are typically two rounds of proofing before the magazine is ready to be printed. The six month production process is full of details and dramas but each moment weaves together to create a publication that fulfills The Key’s mission of engaging readers in relevant dialogue that fosters lifelong connectivity among members.
In the end, it wasn’t the serenades and or video shoots that made my summer special. My summer was special because I was part of a department that uses the values, individual narratives and history of my organization to fuel stories shared through internal communication, educational leadership programs, social media and The Key and infuse them with meaning. That’s what Kappa does: Kappa places your story in a context bigger than yourself and gives you a place to belong. And I believe if you tell the story of someone that resonates with another someone and then empowers them to write their own story a little bit better, that’s how you know you’re doing something worthwhile.