Best Electronic Publication

UNC Health Care delivers what readers want with two e-newsletters

These e-newsletters share videos, ask for employee submissions, and spread patient stories to an audience of 20,000. 

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Here’s the No. 1 goal for UNC Health Care’s two newsletters: Limit mass email.

“We limit the amount of system-wide email by collecting announcements relevant to all employees in one weekly message,” says Will Arey, internal communications manager at UNC Health Care.

Oh, how refreshing!

But it’s not just the list of goals and plans for the newsletters that caught our attention. It’s the fact that this communications team integrates video, requests online submissions from employees, and uses Google Analytics to find out what newsletter stories are most popular. This strategy makes UNC Health Care the winner in the Best Electronic Publication category of Ragan’s Health Care PR and Marketing Awards for 2012.

“The e-newsletters provide colleagues a chance to catch up on the news at their own pace when they have a moment,” Arey says. “We know that not all of the information can be relevant to every person, but we try our best to highlight all colleagues who receive awards and recognition.”

The team publishes two e-newsletters on a weekly basis to connect with employees at UNC Health Care and faculty at the UNC School of Medicine. There is no money budgeted for the newsletters, only staff time.

“UNC Health Care Employee News Online” is distributed each Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. to all UNC Health Care employees, and “Vital Signs—News from the UNC School of Medicine” is distributed each Thursday at 1 p.m. to all UNC School of Medicine faculty, staff, and students. Combined, the two e-newsletters are sent to approximately 20,000 people each week, Arey says.

“Having a trusted source of information is especially important during a crisis,” Arey says. “That is one of the reasons we work hard to limit the number of individual messages sent out from the Employee News Online/Vital Signs mailboxes. We want our colleagues to understand that if a message goes out individually (instead of in the weekly email), something important is going on and they need to pay attention.”

The content in each e-newsletter is based upon its online newsroom. Stories revolve around patient care news, patient stories, nursing news, human resources news, transportation and parking news, awards and honors, UNC Health Care news, UNC School of Medicine news, and campus and community news.

The team also shares the latest patient satisfaction scores for inpatient, outpatient, and HCAHPS in the e-newsletters. Each issue also includes a submission link, so that employees can submit news. The team also links to its official social media outlets, such as Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Videos are featured in the e-newsletters, too. The videos are consistently the most popular feature. To see an example of a video in an e-newsletter, click here.

To determine what stories are popular, the team uses Google Analytics to track data for each newsletter. This data helps the team plan stories for the future and also allows it to build the “most popular from last week” portion of each issue, Arey says.

“Each link in our e-newsletters has a ‘campaign code’ that allows us to determine how many visitors ‘click through’ from the e-newsletter to the website,” Arey says. “We have done several experiments with our e-newsletters. For example, prior to unveiling our current designs, we did A/B testing to determine if users reacted differently to subtly different designs.”

By looking at data, the team has found that colleagues want drastically different content. For instance, news about human resources, parking, recognition, and food is incredibly popular with “UNC Health Care Employee News Online” readers, but readers of “Vital Signs—News from the UNC School of Medicine” want to learn more about research and faculty recognition.

That’s a great way to deliver what your audience wants, UNC Health Care. Congratulations on your award.

To view the winning work please click here.

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