There’s no shame in celebrating success! Each year a newsroom stays in business is a huge win. Too many publications close each year, while others teeter closer to the brink.
Celebrating your newsroom’s birthday is a great reason to reinforce your commitment to your community. It’s also a great reason for a fundraising campaign or subscriber promotion. People like to be a part of something.
This roundup was inspired by a question in the Gather Slack, a discussion forum for community-minded journalists and engagement professionals. It’s a great resource for journalists, and membership is free.
Tips for getting useful insights from these birthday and anniversary emails
Each newsletter in this roundup is from November 2022–July 2023.
I like to share a variety of approaches, so people can get ideas about what other publications are doing. I add comments about what I like, or in some of these, how I might have approached other items differently. My comments are based on my experience and point-of-view. Your mileage may vary.
Zoom in: Each newsletter signup page can be clicked to see in higher resolution.
Remember: “Best practices” should be a starting point, not a “set it and forget it” switch. This also goes for my recommendations!
Sioux Falls Simplified
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Subject: 🥳 Happy birthday to us!
I love the visual hierarchy in this email. It’s clear to read, or you can easily hop from section to section.
The progression is smart, too. From beginning to present to wins to where they want to go. I don’t think building in public is best for everyone, but if you are doing to do that, this is a great example.
Capital B News
Location: New York, NY
Subject: We’re turning 1! 🎂
I love how this email leads with their specific newsletter identity: “to join the long tradition of the Black press in delivery quality, timely, and trustworthy information to Black people across the country.”
That’s clear, direct and easy to understand. In the next graf, they give supporting examples, then head into the call-to-action. Great work.
Location: Madison, WI
Subject: It is time to exploit Scott’s birthday
This email is a wonderful example of finding your publication’s unique voice. Compare this to some of the other more buttoned up fundraising emails in this round-up.
Most people don’t like asking for money. It sucks. This email makes it a little self-deprecating, which is fun and relatable.
Location: Chicago, IL
Subject: Increase your impact when you become a member
Two things I really like about this email:
- It’s pulling out the big number: 75 years. Most newsrooms can’t compete with that.
- This mostly black, white & grey palette feels like a newspaper.
Inspired by these birthday email and anniversary examples?
See the good, the bad, and the ugly in newsletters plus actionable insights in your inbox when you subscribe to the 99 Newsletter Project newsletter.
Lookout Santa Cruz
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Subject: Inside Lookout: Celebrating TWO Years
I’m a fan of long copy when it’s good copy, but this is too much for one email. It tries to cover too much ground, and comes across as a wall of words.
I might break this up into separate emails like:
- Larger photos of the team so readers could actually meet them a few at a time.
- Covid coverage is hugely important, and could be it’s own appeal.
- Event attendees are their own audience segment.
- Honestly each of the paragraphs in the bottom section could probably be a standalone email.
Also, “Join on Two Year Anniversary Party” doesn’t make sense? Is it an actual party or is it a promo? More eyes on proofs can avoid these hiccups.
Location: Richland, OH
Subject: 2013 > Signs of recovery in 🍺 craft beer and hospitals
This is interesting. To celebrate 10 years, Richland Source sent an email looking back at each year they’ve been around.
The emails were sent over 10 days or so. This is a different approach to the standard “our history” or top stories emails. It shows how the newsroom has grown as part of the community.
Block Club Chicago
Location: Chicago, IL
Subject: Block Club’s 5th Anniversary Gala – You’re Invited!
I’m a Block Club Chicago subscriber and daily reader. What I love about this email is that it feels so…sophisticated.
Block Club is neighborhood-driven news. They are rubbing elbows with regular people across the city. The product is casual, yet professional.
For their 5th birthday, they didn’t have a party or a happy hour. They had a gala. The black and gold is sharp. This look symbolizes how Block Club has grown as a newsroom from a scrappy startup into a key resource in Chicago’s media landscape.
Location: Columbus, OH
Subject: Cheers to 10 Years! Brent Warren celebrates 10 years with CU
Compare this one celebrating Brent to the tiny staff photos in the Lookout Santa Cruz email.
10 years at one publication is a pretty amazing feat these days. I like this idea of celebrating the staff.
Reporters may disagree with me, but I look at them like local celebrities. Hell, I never had a byline and people would light up when I told them I worked at the paper.
Opening the curtain and letting readers get to know them can help build trus.
Location: Denver, CO
Subject: 🥳 Celebrating 2 years!
Short, simple and a decent little sweepstakes to promote membership.
However, “Take your readership to the next level” is my least favorite call-to-action of the year so far. People don’t have “readership.” Readership is a word made up for newspaper execs to get around talking about disappointing circulation numbers.
Location: Denver, CO
Subject: The Denver newspaper rebellion marks its 5th anniversary. Help us continue the battle.
What a hell of a subject line, right? People pay attention when you stand for something.
The 19th* News
Kansas City Beacon
Nerdette from WBEZ
Location: Chicago, IL
Subject: Nerdette is turning 10!
I love the early invitation for newsletter subscribers that show listeners won’t get until the day of.
Also, a cake decorating contest is a fun way to get people showing off their love of your work with their friends.
El Paso Matters
Location: El Paso, TX
Subject: Today’s our third birthday. Your gift will help us grow.
This email arrived on Valentine’s Day, so I feel like this is a missed opportunity to have a little fun. Chances are, it was written weeks before and sent on Valentine’s Day as a coincidence.
I don’t care for the call-to-action on the button. “Here’s my gift to you” could be interpreted as a promo offer to the reader, rather than a donation to El Paso Matters.
It never hurts to be more specific.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Subject: One year of The Banner | A letter from the Publisher
One thing I do like is that this letter leads with the dropped paywall. This is probably the most meaningful thing most people will get from this email. No need to bury the benefit.
Unfortunately, the focus on “positive impact” leaves me wanting. It’s corporate feel-good speak. It’s hollow.
Baltimore is a city full of character — and characters. The Banner’s positioning doesn’t capture this as well as I think it should.
Location: Detroit, MI
Subject: It’s Outlier Day!
I love this: “It’s Outlier Day!”
No one is going to toot your horn for you. Why not puff your chest out and give yourself your own damn day to celebrate your success?
This is not a dry, easily-ignorable fundraising email. It’s bright. It’s fun. It’s casual. It’s approachable.
Outlier’s appeal does a great job of showing how in 7 years they’ve gone from a solo founder to a team of 15 — and how your donation will be put to work.
Outlier is damn good at email.
Looking for more than birthday and anniversary email examples?
See the good, the bad and the ugly in newsletters plus actionable insights in your inbox when you subscribe to the 99 Newsletter Project newsletter.