Duke newsletter packed with readable, relevant stories

Not content to publish dry factoids and announcements, Working @ Duke’s staff does some real shoe-leather journalism for its print and online incarnations.

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The staff at Duke University’s newsletter, Working @ Duke, went well beyond that, profiling employees looking to lose weight in the wellness program and offering up telling little details about them. For instance, one employee just loves Hershey’s Kisses and mini Butterfingers. Another had trouble getting motivated to exercise because of her anemia.

“My approach is journalistic,” says Leanora Minai, who serves as editor of the print and online versions of Working @ Duke. She says she encourages her writers to “peel back the onion” to really make stories relevant and readable.

Duke’s employee newsletter wasn’t always so accessible, though. Over the past six years or so, it has evolved into something exceptional, which is why Working @ Duke won Ragan’s Employee Communications 2011 awards for online and print newsletters.

Changing landscape

In 2006, Duke’s communicators decided to re-examine the university’s internal communication tools and set up a task force to figure out what needed changing. The group took aim at the employee newsletter, which focused exclusively on employee activities and benefits at milestone moments—for instance, if open enrollment for insurance was coming—and used a lot of space for discussions of niche research topics.

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