A well put together newsletter can be an effective means of communicating with your organisation’s members of staff, specific customers or more generally in your local community. It provides anyone with an interest in your organisation with a regular update of what you’ve been up to or what you’re doing.
How do I create a newsletter?
Producing an all singing, all dancing colour magazine like large companies is not often needed, and is likely to be unaffordable and take too much staff time fro small third sector organisations. A lot of the time, a few simple pages of well written, well designed pages work just as well.
Even those with a bare minimum knowledge of computers can produce a newsletter and Amazing People has produced a simple template for you to use.- just insert your logo, some catchy words and maybe a photo or two and off you go!
Many word processing packages, such as Microsoft Word also include templates for impressive looking newsletters. These templates simply require you to change the text to suit your story, insert pictures and print.
What should I include in our newsletter?
You can include anything you want in your newsletter; it’s YOUR newsletter. Before starting though, it’s worth thinking what your audience would be interested in reading about. The content you include in a newsletter for staff or partner organisations is likely to differ to that in a newsletter aimed at people using the services you offer (so give them separate newsletters).
Typical stories to include in a newsletter might include:
New products or services
New staff appointments
Recent events or meetings
Upcoming events or an events calendar
Human interest stories/ staff `profiles etc
Style and layout
Many newsletters follow a similar layout to a newspaper, using a number of columns rather than writing across the whole of the page. This helps to make the text easy to read and access.
Choosing a name for your newsletter is an important decision, but whatever you decide upon make sure that it can run across the width of the top of the front page, making it instantly recognisable. Begin each story with a headline and an introductory paragraph about the story, and then continue with the story in detail. Try and make the headline short and “punchy” if you can. It will help to encourage people to read on.
Ultimately the layout of the newsletter is done to personal preference; pick something that reflects your image, preferably using the organisation’s colours and logo.
Below are a number of tips to consider when writing your newsletter, these are not rules but guidelines that will increase the effectiveness of your piece.
Try to keep your newsletter regular, be it monthly, quarterly or annually. If no one knows when the next issue is coming out, then they will lose interest and the newsletter will lose integrity.
Keep it short if you can. Four sides of A4 text with a few photos to break it up will give you about x00 words to play with. If you can print on A3 paper, this also means you can print a few copies internally, but remember the hidden prices of colour toner, paper and staff standing over the photocopier. If you need hundreds, it will be more cost effective to get a friendly local printer to give you a good price.
Make your content topical and newsworthy. Make sure what your writing about is of interest to your readers and isn’t old news.
Avoid jargon or acronyms that might confuse the reader. By all means, if you’re writing for staff then use terms they will understand, but bear in mind that your customer wont be familiar with the technical terms of the trade.
Make it personal. Employees will read the newsletter and ask ‘what does that mean for me?’ For example, if your organisation is opening a new office, explain what will mean to them.
Allow for feedback. Give your readers an opportunity to have their say; a letters section is a great way of doing this.
Include quotes from relevant sources. A comment from a manager or trustee adds weight to a story and putting it in italics can break up lengthy blocks of text and keep the readers interest!
A picture tells a thousand words! An old cliché but it’s true, and photos provide a great way of making a newsletter more attractive.
Finally, don’t forget to proof-read your newsletter before printing it out!