Village’s ‘e-Currents’ newsletter gets award for engaging readers

Village’s ‘e-Currents’ newsletter gets award for engaging readers

Bill Kress

For the past three years running the e- Currents newsletter issued by the Village of Palmetto Bay has received “All Star” honors from Constant Contact, the email service which acts as a pipeline for the publication. The newsletter has getting roughly double the “open rate” as newsletters in all categories in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Bill Kress, village communications director and editor of the newsletter, was pleased by the unexpected response to the newsletter, which began in 2008 and has been issued once or twice monthly ever since. He appreciates the honor of the award.

“We’ve received it for a couple of years in a row, which is nice, and, honestly, I was a little surprised, only because I never realized how we compared with other newsletters in the government sector,” Kress said. “I just assumed that all the newsletters — that everybody was experiencing a 50 percent open rate. That’s pretty darn good. It took me by surprise the first year and we continued to have that success.”

It isn’t just government sector newsletters that are compared in the Constant Contact figures on “open rate,” which are gauged by the links in the newsletters that people respond to when reading. Nonprofit-religious organization newsletters usually have a 24.8 percent open rate. The open rate for art galleries/museums is 24.7 percent; crafts, 24.6 percent; government agency/services, 23.6 percent, and nonprofit- membership organization, 24.6 percent. Newsletters from consultants, marketing/PR firms and others have even lower open rates than that. Palmetto Bay’s e-Currents consistently ranges from 45 percent to a high of 52 percent in “open rate.”

“We can’t take all the credit,” Kress said. “I think, yes, we do put out a pretty good product, a nice newsletter, but we also have an incredibly engaged audience. The people of Palmetto Bay are very engaged, they’re interested. Look at the picnic —4,500 people show up. It’s a really wonderful community where people are interested in what’s going on, so they’re interested in the newsletter.”

Kress, who just celebrated his fifth year with the village on Mar. 3, said he has a background in journalism and runs the newsletter like a mini-news organization.

“I hope I’m striking a balance of making it interesting and approachable and giving them the information that they need,” Kress said. “Basically, I was hired to transition the village from paper and mailbased communications to electronic communications. Village manager Ron Williams has given me the latitude to develop it and he’s wonderfully hands-off in this area. He trusts me with it and that’s good management approach.”

The village also issues a senior newsletter and recently sent out a survey about movie night selections using the same newsletter distribution system.

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