We just have to tell you our wonderful news! The Environmental Factor took home first place in the e-newsletter category at this year’s Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards presented by the National Association of Government Communicators (NACG). The winners were announced June 20 in Ft. Myers, Florida at the association’s annual meeting.
“This is a terrific honor for the institute and for our newsletter team,” said Christine Bruske Flowers, director of the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL), which publishes the newsletter each month.
“NIEHS supports a tremendously broad research portfolio, and our writers, editors, photographer, and webpage designers do a fabulous job of presenting that research to the world each month in our newsletter,” she added. “Kelly Lenox is a great editor in chief. I’m so glad that her efforts are being recognized in this significant way.”
In addition to Lenox, the award also named Science Editor Robin Arnette, Ph.D., and Photo Editor Joe Poccia. The Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards recognize superior communication products from all levels of government, and the individuals who produce them. At present, the competition includes such categories as documentary, graphic design, K-12 education programs, and more than 40 others.
This is the second recognition of excellence from NAGC. Arnette won the 2017 first place prize for a web article.
Four decades of communications excellence
The Environmental Factor began in 1978 as an internal newsletter about local research and happenings around campus. Since then, it has evolved into the flagship NIEHS newsletter, publishing a wide range of articles about lectures, meetings, scientific accomplishments, and events involving NIEHS and other organizations.
“The diversity of NIEHS research and programs means that every month we can feature a fresh collection of topics,” Lenox said. “We strive to publish stories that are accessible to a broad audience, so that environmental health news will reach people who can use it to make a difference in their own health and that of their communities.”
Changing with the times
Among the biggest changes longtime readers have seen is the Factor’s design. The paper newsletter became an online PDF format, and now its articles serve as an information hub, with links to related materials embedded throughout.
“The NAGC reviewers gave especially high marks to the newsletter’s design,” Lenox noted. “Joe and the contractor’s web team continue to polish its presentation and function.” She said the judges liked features such as the clickable event details in the calendar and the ease of navigating between topic sections, such as Papers Published and Community Impact.
Lenox also noted how simple it is for today’s readers to share Factor content using the embedded social media buttons on every story.
Commitment to NIEHS mission
While much about the Environmental Factor has changed over the years, one thing that has remained constant is its commitment to spotlighting the mission of its institute.
“It’s amazing to look back and see just how far this newsletter has come in the last four decades,” said Flowers, “It started as a two-page, typed handout with news about employee picnics and science fairs. Now, it’s a multimedia update on the latest and best environmental health research. We couldn’t be prouder of this award.”
(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with OCPL and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)