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Zoom in on….Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center

Interviews are conducted by Erika Sterling, Strategic Account Manager at BlueToad.

When you think of a publication, what comes to mind? Most will think of your favorite magazine, but did you know that many businesses and not-for-profits use newsletters to communicate their message?

Today we’re zooming in on Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center, a non-profit organization in Brandon, Florida.  BSAC uses a digital newsletter to further their mission:  to impact lives daily through superior educational and athletic programming that enhances physical, mental, and spiritual well being.

We recently had an opportunity to catch up with their Executive Director, Chuck Burgess, Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 3.16.02 PMand chat with him about what BSAC is doing with their digital edition.

Chuck, tell us a little bit about your publication and who the audience is:

Our publication is our printed newsletter, and our audience is vast – it ranges from children ages 5-18, volunteers, existing and potential donors, and our general community as well. We use it to raise awareness, educate, entertain, enrich, and uphold the center’s mission.

 I understand that you have a printed newsletter as well. What made you decide to add a digital newsletter?

Well, supplementing our printed newsletter with a digital edition for us was like upgrading your Hyundai to a Cadillac. It opened up a whole new world for us in terms of readership. When we just had our printed newsletter, we didn’t have much traction, and we were limited with what we could do. Creating a digital version of the newsletter allows us to capture the reader’s attention by including things such as sound, videos, and even ads to create a real interactive experience. It’s almost like creating a new website every time a new issue comes out, only on a smaller scale.

How do you promote your publication?

 We have an email list, so we use email marketing to distribute each new issue that comes out. It’s easy to do, and we’ve found that it works for us – out of over 2000 members that receive the newsletter, we’re getting about a 67% open rate on average.

We also leverage Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook we have several different pages set up, and each is tailored to a demographic. For example, we have a page dedicated to our swim team, and another dedicated to the center itself where you can ‘like’ the page to receive general updates.

 What does your audience have to say? Do they like your digital newsletter?

The feedback we receive is consistently positive. Before, not everyone knew about our newsletter, whereas now people look forward to receiving the digital version and ask us, ‘When’s the newsletter coming out?’ Even the kids get into it!

It’s been a lot of fun for our team as well; we now have departments that can’t wait to contribute an article to the newsletter because they like to see it come to life. The format’s just really engaging.

 As you already know, content publishers will probably read this and look for tips and such to help them on their journey into the digital world. So before time is up, do you have any tips or lessons you’ve learned from your foray into digital that you wouldn’t mind sharing with others?

 In this day and age, I don’t know why you wouldn’t venture into the digital world – especially in the non-profit arena. It just doesn’t make sense not to. It adds a spark to your company – it’s a fun way to celebrate what you do and allows for more depth to what you’re communicating.

The digital format is a great idea for a non-profit organization. It really allows you to upgrade your information and increase exposure in the community.

The analytics really help us a lot, too – you can see where people are clicking in the newsletter, so you see which areas get the most interest.  This is helpful for us when we plan fundraisers especially, because we know where to position the information.

Another tip is to just have fun with it! Our team has a lot of fun putting it together and coming up with ideas for articles. It brings out the creative side in each of us. If you have fun with it, it’ll translate to engaging content that people will want to read.

 For more information on the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center, visit

 To check out their latest issue, click on the cover image below. 

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