The City of Lakewood’s magazine – which is mailed to 30,000 residents and business three times a year and is available online – captured first place in the “Most Improved Publication ” category of the National Association of Government Communicators’ 2016 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards competition .
The National Parks Service captured Second Place in the same category for its “Cape Lookout National Seashore Unigrid Brochure.” Other Washington local governments that won in this year's NAGC competition are the Washington State Department of Transportation for its “I-405 Express Toll Lane” and Seattle City Light for its social media.
This year’s competition featured 265 entries in 41 categories from federal, state, regional and local government agencies. Of the entries, there were 40 first-place winners, 37 second-place winners and 50 Awards of Excellence (honorable mention).
This marks the second consecutive year the City of Lakewood has won a Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award. In 2015, it took Second Place in the “Shoestring Budget” category for its #IamLakewood social media campaign .
Lakewood Connections began as a newsletter-style community bulletin. Designed and produced by the City, the publication had undergone various tweaks since it was first published in 1996 – the year of the City’s incorporation – but retained a similar look throughout the years. In 2013, the City of Lakewood combined its Parks and Recreation guide with the newsletter to cut costs.
Around the same time, the City Council developed its current set of goals and priorities, one of which is a commitment to being an open, transparent government that adapts to how the community receives information.
When the magazine’s previous publisher did not continue its agreement, Lakewood formally requested proposals from other potential publishers looking to fill the void. It ended up choosing Seattle-based Philips Publishing Group, which proposed a funding model that called for advertising from local business that could actually generate a profit for Philips and the City. Also, Philips would use its expertise to design the magazine, with all editorial content and direction coming from the City of Lakewood’s Communications Division.
The new incarnation of the magazine debuted in January 2015, and the magazine’s quality, advertising and readership has grown in the two issues since then.
Judges for the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards wrote: “Overall design and layout have been significantly improved. Looks much more professional in comparison to the previous newsletter design. New printing and paper quality is much better and slicker. Typography decisions are more consistent and make the publication look cleaner.”
Communications Manager Brent Champaco led the effort to redesign the City’s newsletter into its current format and, as the publication’s Managing Editor, supplies all of the City’s content, save for program information from the Parks and Recreation Department.
“This NAGC Award is particularly meaningful because it shows how far we’ve come in a few short years with Lakewood Connections,” Champaco said. “This is the age of social media and digital technology, and we're fully committed in that area. But our City also recognizes the importance of printed publications such as our magazine.”
“The best part is hearing from the community about how much it loves our new magazine,” he added. “It’s a great partnership between the City, Philips, local businesses that advertise with us and readers. I’m excited as ever to continue to strengthen that relationship.”