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How Headfirst earns 90% open rates on vital staff communications

The kids’ summer camp uses Axios HQ to keep staff — and families — informed.

The challenge: In 2019, Headfirst had an existing team in DC, another that was newly acquired in Colorado Springs, and no clear way to communicate with both together. Its leaders were searching for a way to better integrate staff and make all-hands communication more cohesive. It had to be:

  • Efficient: Internal updates were already too long. They needed something new, unique and engaging that could serve as a pre-read to their staff meetings and make conversations more productive.
  • Consistent: With multiple collaborators and authors supporting staff comms, Headfirst would still need to ensure a central style, voice, and tone came through.

The solution: Headfirst now uses Axios HQ to send two recurring updates that earn nearly 90% open rates — a weekly all-staff update and an every-other-month communication that dives deep into team wins and professional development opportunities.

  • 💭  Jack Marooney, Manager of Executive Operations: “Axios HQ was a lifesaver.  Beyond the immediate value of transitioning away from long emails, it established what our remote work life would look like. Our Axios HQ update did not become just an email elsewhere. It took on its own narrative arc and style of writing — Smart Brevity. That's really shaped our cadence and the structure.”
  • 💭  Sarah Rae, Senior Manager of Education, Training & Development: “HQ creates friendly competition, too. We always want to get 100% on the Smart Brevity Score. When it's not, we think, I need to fix my bolding or make this a bit more punchy and efficient. It's a good reminder each time we're writing.”

How it works: Headfirst collaborators — about five or six on each edition — log into Axios HQ to add their updates. Built-in Smart Brevity tips help each contributor write with a unified voice and style, easing the amount of edits that Jack, Sarah or their founder have to apply before they hit send.

🧠  Jack’s words of encouragement:

  • “Axios HQ has also served as a valuable jumping off point for team recognition. The ability to shout out the work folks are doing that wouldn't make it in a 30 minute, every-other-week, meeting — because only so many things can — has been another great way to show the team that their work is valued.”

Go deeper: See an example of the Professional Development update Headfirst sends with Axios HQ.

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