Splashes, the internal newsletter of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, is distributed to 2,000 active employees and 1,000 retirees. At a glance, you might easily dismiss it. You have to dig into it to realize just how amazing it is and how great a job it does at bringing employees up to speed on news, events and other elements of work at EBMUD. Its success has earned it first place in the “Newsletter” category of Ragan’s 2017 Employee Communications Awards.
The bulk of the work is done by a sole employee, Nelsy Rodriguez, who works in the Office of the General Manager Communications Division. Rodriguez’s efforts – using out-of-date software and virtually no budget – has led to an increase in readership by some 20 percent, “from an open rate in the low 40s to an open rate about 60 percent consistently,” she writes.
Rodriguez approaches her work like a daily newspaper reporter: “I engage my colleagues in conversations about their work to sniff out potential news items; I treat every meeting like a newsworthy event; I engage employees in conversations about the work of other departments to connect dots across the organization.”
She also writes catchy headlines, emphasizes real quotes and makes sure videos and links are included to external websites. She works with contributors from across the District to convey technical information in layman’s terms. With the Public Affairs staff, she works to clean up content and set proper tone. After publication, she emails every employee whose name appears in the newsletter (between 40 and 125) to invite them to subscribe via their personal email address.
Rodriguez also emails the link to the PDF so people can print it and leave it in a public place for their colleagues to see. She does all this while performing other job responsibilities beyond the magazine. Rodriguez has big plans for Splashes, including updated software or a new intranet platform, to enable comments and other engagement.
Congratulations to Nelsy Rodriguez, Andrea Pook, the Public Affairs staff, and the employees of EBMUD whose stories make Splashes a winning newsletter.