Web-Based or Electronic HTML External Audience Tabloids and Newsletters: St. Norbert College - Silver Medal

Category 21B: Web-Based or Electronic HTML External Audience Tabloids and Newsletters
St. Norbert College, @St. Norbert e-newsletter

Contact person: Timberly Kazmarek, communications specialist, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115, phone: (920) 403-3557, e-mail:

About St. Norbert College: St. Norbert College is a Catholic, liberal arts college embracing the Norbertine tradition of community and is committed to providing an educational environment that is intellectually, spiritually and personally challenging.


Planning and objectives: In June 2006, St. Norbert College’s offices of Communications and Alumni Relations launched a monthly electronic newsletter targeting alumni of the institution. The e-mail publication, @St. Norbert, links readers to a Web site of original, up-to-date “newsy” items about campus life and activities.

The main purpose of @St. Norbert is to generate excitement about the college by giving alumni a chance to better connect to the institution. Each issue provides concise, regular information about a wide range of topics, including a monthly feature called “Ask the Abbot” where readers can submit questions and see the Abbot’s answers published online.

Design: Subscribers receive–in either HTML or plain text—a core of general college news briefs as well as information about upcoming alumni events. The news briefs link to more information on the Internet. The design strategy allows readers to choose the depth of information they desire. A quick skim offers headlines and highlights, while clicking a link provides access to the complete article.

Allowing both HTML and plain text versions accommodates readers with slow Internet connections, while also offering a more visually appealing publication for others. The HTML version offers navigational links and allows easy access to administrative functions (changing settings, unsubscribing, etc.)

Audience: @St. Norbert is currently sent via e-mail to 8,099 college alumni whose e-mail addresses are on file. The newsletter has been sent separately at times to prospective students as another method of making a connection and providing more information about life at St. Norbert College. The e-newsletter is also available to all visitors of the St. Norbert College Web site.

Staffing: Drew Van Fossen, director of communication and design (layout/design), Susan Allen, publications editor (editor), Timberly Kazmarek, communications specialist (Web site and broadcast production)

Frequency: @St. Norbert is published the first Tuesday of each month.

Total annual budget: There are no costs associated with the monthly e-newsletter. It is created entirely in-house by staff of the college. This includes all writing and photography, as well as design and Web site production. The Office of Alumni Relations purchased an external program that generates an online alumni directory. The ability to send e-mail broadcasts is an added feature of that program.

Evaluation plan: Focus groups were used for the prototype of the e-newsletter to assess many factors, including the design, layout, navigation, readability, interest in stories, etc. The broadcast tool allows for tracking and statistics to evaluate which stories are popular and receive the most “clicks.”

Each month, the communications staff meets to discuss the statistics of the previous issue and takes that information into account when planning the next issue. The “Ask the Abbot” feature has become the most popular item by far of each issue. An archive of all issues was created so that new readers may peruse previous issues that they would not have received prior to subscribing.

Response/results: The newsletter meets the objective of providing the alumni with information and news on topics ranging from college community. Anecdotal response comes in the form of reply e-mails, most of which are positive. A contact e-mail is provided on each page of the e-newsletter so that readers may submit their feedback.

The October 2006 issue was sent via e-mail to 8,009 alumni, three of which unsubscribed. One thousand nine hundred eight-three people clicked on a link to read more about a topic/story, and thereby visited the Web site. The e-newsletter on the Web site had 62,000 total views during the month of October.

The February 2007 issue was sent via e-mail to 8,099 alumni, seven of which unsubscribed. Two thousand, seven hundred eighty-seven people clicked on a link to read more about a topic/story, and thereby visited the Web site. The e-newsletter on the web site had 50,548 total views during the month of February.