Dinosaur birthday party

Get inspired: Birthday and Anniversary emails (August 2023)

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
Website: sfsimplified.com

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.

Sioux Falls Simplified Birthday Email 2023
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Capital B News

Location: New York, NY
Website: capitalbnews.org

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.

Capital B News Birthday Email
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Tone Madison

Location: Madison, WI
Website: tonemadison.com

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.

Tone Madison Publisher Birthday Email 2023
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Chicago Sun-Times

Location: Chicago, IL
Website: chicago.suntimes.com

Subject: Increase your impact when you become a member


Two things I really like about this email:

  1. It’s pulling out the big number: 75 years. Most newsrooms can’t compete with that.
  2. This mostly black, white & grey palette feels like a newspaper.
Chicago Sun-Times Birthday Email
Click image to enlarge

Inspired by these birthday email and anniversary examples?

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Lookout Santa Cruz

Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Website: lookout.co/santacruz

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.

Lookout Santa Cruz Birthday Email 2022
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Richland Source

Location: Richland, OH
Website: www.richlandsource.com

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.

Richland Source Birthday Email 2023
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Block Club Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL
Website: blockclubchicago.org

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.

Block Club Chicago Anniversary Email 2023
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Columbus Underground

Location: Columbus, OH
Website: columbusunderground.com

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.

Columbus Underground Staff Anniversary Email 2023
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Axios Denver

Location: Denver, CO
Website: www.axios.com/local/denver

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.

Axios Denver Birthday Email 2023
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Colorado Sun

Location: Denver, CO
Website: coloradosun.com

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.

Colorado Sun Anniversary Email 2023
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The 19th* News

Location: Austin, TX
Website: 19thnews.org

Subject: It’s our birthday! 🎂

The 19th News Birthday Email 2023
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Kansas City Beacon

Location: Kansas City, MO
Website: kcbeacon.org

Subject: We’re turning 3! 🎂


It’s easy to overthink things. It’s not necessary! Three years = Triple Donation Match. Easy enough, right?

Kansas City Beacon Birthday Email 2023
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Nerdette from WBEZ

Location: Chicago, IL
Website: www.wbez.org

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.

WBEZ Nerdette Birthday Email 2023
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El Paso Matters

Location: El Paso, TX
Website: elpasomatters.org

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.

El Paso Matters Birthday Email 2023
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Baltimore Banner

Location: Baltimore, MD
Website: www.thebaltimorebanner.com

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.

Baltimore Banner Birthday Email 2023
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Outlier Media

Location: Detroit, MI
Website: outliermedia.org

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.

Outlier Media Birthday Email 2023
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