Are newsletters still relevant today?
A newsletter, whether in print or via email, can be an effective way of marketing your community group or organisation and sharing human interest stories, key messages and activities.
To ensure your newsletter gets read it needs to capture and keep the attention of recipients. A newsletter won’t achieve what you want it to if no-one reads it.
Zakazukha has worked with several communities to write, design and produce regular community newsletters including regional and Indigenous communities.
We currently produce a bi-monthly newsletter for the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council in Far North Queensland to share news and information on important projects and issues that affect their residents.
Here’s a quick list of ways to create winning newsletters
1. Know your goals
The first thing you need to do when producing a newsletter is to figure out what you want from it.
The most popular style of newsletters will aim to tell your members what you’re doing, why and how that supports or benefits them.
We would recommend that your group or organisation narrows the focus of its newsletter down to one or two of the following goals:
- Local interest stories that your organisation supports through actions and finance and such as new assets and infrastructure.
- Promote local events and activities to build interest both before and after the fact.
- Advocate for a cause by developing community interest and understanding of the issues.
- Recruit and maintain members, staff, volunteers and donors for your community group or project.
- Fundraising is another area that can be promoted through regular newsletter communications.
A newsletter can cover many of your goals, but for it to be an attractive and informative read, your group should write everything with its underlying goals for the newsletter in mind.
2. Know your audience
Knowing what the focus of your newsletter will be goes a long way towards deciding who its audience is.
Each of the goals listed above involves a slightly different group but you should still have a general idea of what they’re like, what they want, what their expectations are, why they are receiving the newsletter and what you want them to know.
3. Select an editor
You will need someone to organise publication and oversee the direction and content creation for your newsletter.
A good editor is key to the success or failure of the newsletter. They must be someone who can dedicate time to it whilst managing people, ideas and deadlines.
4. Find writers
The more variety in the writing, and the more voices heard, the better for your newsletter.
Locate sources of news and information both from within and without your organisation and to provide diversity and get the most current stories.
Electronic newsletters (sent by email) are in most respects the same as printed newsletters, only cheaper. However, remember that having an electronic newsletter does not mean that you should dispense with your print edition entirely.
For example, there may be people who do not have email access, or others that just prefer to read your newsletter in print. And it also helps to be able to send a newsletter out in an information kit promoting your group.
Give the newsletter a positive mention on your web page, and maybe offer the opportunity to download an edition from the recent past.
When you email people for other reasons, ask them if they’d like to get the newsletter. Mention it in your other publications.
Put out a new edition of your newsletter at least four to six times a year. Any less than that and you lose many of the benefits.
It also is important to be punctual. If the newsletter doesn’t arrive on time this makes you look inefficient.
Your newsletter is a micro public relations campaign and it’s very important to get the look right to produce an attractive and professional publication.
Here are some helpful style points for you to consider:
- Keep it short but informative.
- Keep it bright and clear.
- Print in columns.
- Use sub-headings.
- Put text in boxes, or shaded paragraphs.
- Keep it simple.
- Stick to a simple, readable, and common font throughout
If you email your newsletter or people download it from your website, you need to keep the text at a moderate size.
Think of your target audience and cater to them. Remember that the key to a great newsletter is to inform, entertain and help your audience with news and event that are important to them.
To fill your newsletter, look for:
- Source news articles and analysis of relevant issues.
- Research for legislative/policy updates.
- Provide an analysis of relevant issues.
- Provide instruction and ‘How-to guides’.
- Introduce new people
- Promote and advertise your new services.
- Reports on your activities and successes.
- Include human interest stories to show how you’re making a difference.
- Make your articles encouraging and inspirational, with pictures.
- Invite feedback – encourage your readers to let you know what they think of the newsletter and what they want to see in the next edition.
In summary, the community newsletter is alive and well and coming to a town or organisation near you. Whether via email or hardcopy they still have a place and a purpose in bringing us local and topical news and information that educates, entertains, and engages people.
To find out more about how we help with your next newsletter, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 7 5607 0899
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