I really feel that the community bulletin is rather useless when it comes to bringing the attention of the community to it. When we had the blog notifications, blog posts were much more noticeable. Also, I've seen the featured box once and it did catch my eye that time. Featured posts do not catch my eye via the community bulletin box.
There are a few factors at play here, IMO
The box is in the sidebar
As many people have noted elsewhere, the sidebar is notorious for being filled with ads. For sites other than SO, which only have internal ads and community-ads, I still don't look at it much. And I don't think others do either. We've just been trained by years of ignoring sidebar ads on the Internet.
The only thing on the sidebar I regularly glance at is the chat box--it tells me if a quietish room has any new activity.
Here's a mock heatmap of where my eyes/mouse probably are on the main page of Physics.SE OK, yes, there's no real point of a made-up heatmap, but there's no fun otherwise ;-):
(Click to enlarge)
As you can see, I miss the community bulletin completely.
New items are not visually prominent
Whenever there's a new item in the bulletin, it's not really noticeable. For example, these two screenshots look pretty much the same (unless you rapidly switch tabs).
Unlike the rep indicator, the bulletin isn't something that changes often so our eyes aren't trained to glance at it every time you open the page.
Now, there are some pretty important things in the community bulletin, as well as some noise. Which is which depends upon the site.
- Blog posts (Sometimes noise, sometimes not)
- Elections (never noise)
- featured (possibly noise for larger sites, but essential for betas and low-activity sites)
- Events (don't know about these)
My main concern is the fact that featured posts don't get the attention they deserve. They get mixed up with other metaposts, and on top of that are tucked away in the community bulletin, which, like I said, is nearly invisible :\ .
This tag is meant to highlight important discussions and attract attention to them. These can be recent events, site definitions, and any discussion whose resolution may have a critical impact on the whole site. It is generally a wise idea to at least look at any new questions with this tag.
The tag is clearly for stuff that everyone ought to have a glance at. With the current functionality, I doubt that everyone does look at it--most of them may not notice. When I tag something featured, I expect the message to go out to all the active site members. Which is probably not happening :\