External Audience Newsletters


13 Entries

Overall with the two categories there were some entries that set themselves apart but none of them were ground breaking. Judges suggest that those entering the categories, especially digital, take time to provide results such as open rates and click thru. Both categories showed increasing use of photography to convey message. They read the entry forms looking for objectives and how well they meet institutional mission. The judges felt like a number of entries glossed over this so they could not readily assess results. Judges found more weaknesses in both categories than strengths. Cramming too much content, using questionable photos (blurred, not very visual), average design. Clean design and content curation for both categories was important to the judges. Some entries were outstanding in presenting results so they appear to be reaching their audiences. Others just claimed to be giving the readers what they want, need to be able to back up the claim.

In the Print category, there seems to be a trend for oversized publications but the judges overall felt that this made the newsletters harder to read. A number of entries in the Print category were really magazines so were misplaced (one in fact called themselves a magazine on their cover, not a newsletter.) There was a reliance by many to use a Q&A format throughout the entire newsletter so it was hard to judge writing ability. The winners in print had compelling covers, good photography, writing was strong, and material was presented in a creative way.

In the Digital category, a number of entries were not mobile friendly. In this day and age, this is extremely important. A number of entries had only photos which linked to website content. We felt that the best newsletters were a combination of both. You should not have to constantly go back and forth from the newsletter to the web to read stories. Some newsletters used GIFs a number of times in the newsletter. Way too gimmicky and detracted from newsletters. The best digital newsletters were a combination of articles, photography, and key links (we stress key) presented in a mobile friendly environment and immediately recognizable for the institution they came from. Judges loved the visual impact of The University of Queensland (excellent photography) but it was all links. We also liked use of white space, fonts and colors that made the newsletter easy to read. (Older alumni have trouble with reverse typo and colors such as yellow). The winner in this category was able to point out how social media effected open rates. 

Gold Award

University of Chicago (IL) - Tableau

  • The judges agreed that the content was well written. The cover was compelling and eye catching. One of the judges specifically wished to go to the university purely based off of the newsletter.

Silver Award

Northwestern University (IL) - Footnotes

  • The judges felt that the writing was incredible and the content was engaging. A fantastic usage of library collections.


14 entries

Gold Award

University of Maryland, College Park (MD) - The Shell

  • The judges felt that is was the best in its class and was fun to read. It was a quality newsletter with good articles. Fun to read. On point with their target audience. You knew immediately that this was University of Maryland newsletter. Mixed use of photos, artwork, stories, and links that invited readers. Definitely designed for alumni who like to skip, scan, skim for content.

Silver Award

University of Chicago (IL) -  UChicago Short List

  • The publication was well thought out and separated itself from the rest of the competition. Excellent 'quick read'; content curation emphasis makes it a little harder to assess quality of writing, institution mission, etc. One judge was quoted saying it was "excellent in EVERY way". Showed us in entry how newsletter translated to gifts. Definitely knew target market. Nice design.