How to produce a gold award-winning staff magazine

Bron Afon's staff magazineThis post was written by Vicki Morgan-Curtis, communications officer at Bron Afon Community Housing.

Staff News, Bron Afon’s quarterly staff magazine, won the CIPR Cyrmru (Chartered Institute of PR Wales) gold award this year.  So what made our mag stand out above the other finalists?

What the judges said:

“Bron Afon wanted to produce a useful magazine that a wide range of staff would enjoy reading. The result, Staff News, is great. The simple objective of ensuring employees actually received and read the internal newsletter were easily met and staff love it. It does a great job of combining corporate messaging and staff interest items, whilst maintaining a great sense of humour and telling it simply. Writing style is straightforward, with no management speak or technical jargon.”

Why bother?

Central to producing the magazine, for us, the key question is: why bother? In these days of being spoilt for choice with various social media platforms, what’s the need for a printed publication?

We’d say that that main aim of Staff News is to remain a ‘traditional’ key message carrier, supporting other channels we use to ‘talk’ to staff such as social media and face to face meetings.

Reflecting a core value

We have been producing Staff News for the past five years.  From the beginning, we knew that we wanted to create a publication in which the design, artwork, layout – underpins one of Bron Afon’s core values of being ‘innovative and creative and willing to take risks.’

Being different but being ourselves

Our design brief for Staff News has developed into what you might call ‘being different but being ourselves.’ By this, we mean creating exciting, vibrant pages that may not be typical of a housing organisation’s publication yet still promote a vision of who we are and what our business is all about.  Crucial to this is the front cover, which always features a member of staff and is designed to entice you to pick up the magazine and read it.

The regulars

Each edition has some regular items to encourage familiarity and consistency.  These items include: ‘Meet The Team’, a captioned photo with 100 words on what the team does; ‘9-5…5-9’, which is written in the first person by a member of staff about their day job and what their interests and hobbies are outside of work; ‘A Note from The Board’, a brief overview of recent Board business, which is written by the chair of Bron Afon’s Board in a friendly yet informative style.

Our competition has always been popular and entices people to read the magazine.

‘Snapshots’ is a back page round-up of photos of staff, either at work or in a social situation.

True-life stories from staff about their daily jobs and personal lives are boosted by quotes from their own experiences.


Who’s it for?

Of course, the clue’s in the title!  Bron Afon is a 24/7 business. We have 564 members of staff, around half of whom are trades staff. Staff News is a crucial link for this audience.  We mail out a copy of the magazine to the home address of each member of trade staff.  This makes sure that there is targeted, one to one contact.  It makes all the difference to making staff feel valued and are part of one organisation.

We also have staff based in our area offices.  Staff News helps them to keep in touch with the wide variety of projects and services that we have going on.

It’s yours!

In every edition, we always include the statement, ‘everything in this magazine is about YOU!’ It shows the importance we place on staff being involved in the magazine. They are more likely to read articles and features written by and about their colleagues.

Putting a name to a face

On almost every page, we feature captioned photographs of members of staff, which means that readers can put a name to a face. In some editions we caption over 50 people.

A consistent tone of voice

The ‘tone of voice’ we use for Staff News is friendly, open and in keeping with Bron Afon’s corporate style of written communication. We try to keep the it jargon-free and written in Plain English.

Something for everyone

The mix of the magazine is a deliberate balance of business and non-business news and information.

What do you think?

Here’s some feedback from a recent survey about the magazine.

“Sometimes we are all too busy.  The magazine allows you to take five and catch up on Bron Afon info!”

“It’s nice to know what other members of staff are doing and the good work we are doing throughout the business”

“One document that covers all areas of the business and reaches all employees.”

“It helps because as I work part time, I am not always here when things are announced!”

Note- Click on the photos of recent Staff News front covers to see them in full size


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