‘STATE’ magazine lands international honor for special issues on the pandemic

Covers of the magazines

Three special issues of STATE magazine published this summer have won an international Gold Summit Creative Award in the category of 2020 Pandemic Response.

The Summit Creative Awards recognize excellence in design, creativity and effectiveness of advertising and marketing communication. The contest is for small- and medium-sized international agencies and organizations, defined as billing less than $30 million annually for creative work. It is an independent contest that is not attached to a trade organization, so it attracts entries from multiple sectors of the communications industry.

The 2020 Summit Creative Awards had more than 4,100 entries from 27 countries; fewer than 2% earned Gold.

The special editions of STATE were focused on the response of the three-campus CSU System to the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges reviewed the totality of concepts and overall effectiveness. As contest materials noted regarding communication during the pandemic: “Advertisers and their agents are pivoting quickly and adjusting their marketing strategies. Messaging is delicate, turnaround is fast, but the need is paramount.”

Layout of bat cave story

“That description really captures the strategies our magazine team aimed to fulfill when we envisioned three special COVID-19 issues, which joined and cobranded our two magazines, STATE and Colorado State Magazine, to reach a combined audience of 117,000,” said Coleman Cornelius, executive editor of the magazines. “We wanted the magazines to immediately adapt to the COVID-19 crisis to reach a core audience of alumni, donors, partners, policymakers and community leaders with timely and relevant content that would mark a historic moment, ultimately persuading our readers about the critical role of the CSU System and its campuses during the pandemic.”

Being nimble

She noted that the magazine team sought to show the same nimbleness in production that the CSU System’s students, faculty and staff have shown during the crisis. The three special editions were published every six weeks, and the team constantly adjusted content to account for pandemic and other news developments. For example, during production of the second issue, the team braked just days before print, adding pages and content related to racial tensions that were reaching a boiling point across the country and have affected campuses and their constituents.

“More important to us than the award has been the response to these publications from a readership that is absolutely essential to our campuses,” Cornelius said. “A number of people have called and emailed to describe insights they gained and the pride they feel in our campuses during the pandemic. That’s really why we work in university communications. We want to amplify attention for the world-class work of our students, faculty, and staff – as well as its relevance and impact for our society.”

Layout of the Field Work story

In the past two years, STATE and Colorado State Magazine have received 12 regional, national and international awards for writing, design and overall marketing effectiveness.

“These awards are meaningful to our magazine team because they reflect on the world-class discovery and engagement delivered by the CSU System and its campuses – the subject matter we’re honored to highlight in the magazines,” Cornelius said. “We have the highest caliber teaching, research and service to inspire our work, and we hope these awards magnify that story.”

Mary Sweitzer is the art director and designer for the magazines. The publisher of STATE is Cara Neth, director of executive communications for the CSU System; the deputy publisher was Kathy Phifer, recently retired executive director of CSU strategic initiatives and partnerships; and the advertising coordinator is Jennifer Wright.

The special issues of STATE are available at magazine.csusystem.edu; to receive a print copy, email magazine@colostate.edu.

CSU University Communications Staff