The envelope, please: Pick the winner of TrainingRepublic's newsletter contest

A few weeks ago, we announced a newsletter contest and requested entries from TechRepublic members. You responded with many good examples, and now the time has come for you to pick a winner.

Here they are: the top dogs in TechRepublic’s newsletter contest. Thanks to everyone who sent in their newsletters; we had a great response to our call for entries. In judging the first round of our contest, we were pleasantly surprised to see just how much helpful support documentation and how many good ideas there were out there.

After much examination and discussion, we have selected the top three entries. Our criteria were based on name, logo, and layout. We began with those design qualities, since it doesn’t do any good to spend time producing the newsletter if no one is going to notice it.

Round two
At this point, we’ve done our job to the best of our abilities, and the rest is up to you. We need for you to place your votes for first, second, and third place in our first-ever training newsletter contest.

Here are some suggestions on what to consider when you’re examining the three finalists, which are pictured below. Please remember that these are only suggestions; you should use your own judgment. Sometimes first impressions and gut reactions are too important to ignore when evaluating the effectiveness of a publication.

Is it eye-catching?
A logical place to start is the newsletter's design, which is the only thing we based the first round on. Here are some of the questions that we used to help us determine the final three contestants:

  • Is it clever?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Does it relate to the company and/or the subject matter?

  • Is it well-designed?
  • Does it fit with the style of the newsletter?
  • Does it draw your attention to the product?
  • Is it simple but effective?

  • Is there a variety of type sizes on the page?
  • Is the text broken up with graphic elements?
  • Can you determine the most important article on the page?
  • Did your eye hit every element on the page, or did it skip a few things? How many did it hit?

Is it a good read?
As we all know, beauty is only skin-deep—even for newsletters. While it’s important for the winning newsletter to be attractive, it also needs to be useful.

So, in this second round of judging, you should consider content. Is there a variety of information presented? Are there short articles mixed in with longer ones? Does it look like the editor of the newsletter takes feedback from readers (for example, in the form of a question-and-answer column or a letter column)?

Judging may be a little hard to determine from screen shots, but do your best.
The finalists are below. Look them over and send in your vote for first place. It takes only two clicks to vote. Click once on the caption of the newsletter you like best, then click Send. And don't bother trying to pad the ballot boxes. We'll only count one vote per e-mail address. The cutoff date for voting is May 10, so vote today. The first place winner will receive a TechRepublic polo shirt and second and third places will win t-shirts. Thanks for your help and don’t forget to send any newsletter tips of your own.

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