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How To Write a Newsletter
Newsletters do everything from keeping friends up to date on your personal life to informing readers on what's new in an organization.
Newsletters are used to report upcoming events or evoke heartfelt support for a worthy cause. Newsletters can help elect a candidate to public office or keep him/her there.
Newsletters are a powerful tool.
Purpose of a Newsletter
When starting a newsletter, first decide what the purpose of your newsletter will be. Next, decide the media you will use - print or online - and how often the newsletter will be published.
The purpose may be to:
Communicate News. Telling readers what's been happening with you or your organization. This would also include upcoming events. A good example of this style would be the school newsletter. School newsletters report on the successes of their institution, upcoming events to be aware of, awards and achievements, bring honor to students and teachers, celebrate sports season results, etc.
Increase Attendance. This is well-utilized by theatrical groups. If you have plays or concerts to promote, paint a bold picture of the upcoming season in a newsletter. Sell your readers on how wonderful it will be. Promote advance sale tickets so that readers are sure to get the best seats. Offer group rates or other incentives to bring them in. Add a recap of recent successful productions to remind them of the high quality they will enjoy in the future.
Inspire Involvement. Non-profit organizations depend heavily on fundraising to further the causes they support. Whether it is emergency disaster relief, feeding hungry children or rescuing endangered animals, it is important to get the right information to the public to generate funds needed to help others in time of need. Newsletters spell out that need and also affirm the good that the funds are currently doing. They tell the donors that their money will be used well. Real-life testimonials included in this type of newsletter, along with outstanding photos depicting the story, give readers a close-up and personal experience without actually being there.
When designing the look of your newsletter consider:
The audience. How's their attention span? Young people prefer shorter, brighter, louder, flashier and very visual. Mature readers are willing to deal with more words (for the most-part.) Create it to reflect the brand of those it represents. Schools may include their banner or logo. The arts should look, well, artsy! Reaching out for aid? Then add lots of photos of those who have been or will be helped.
Freshness of content. What is the shelf-life of the information? Is there enough up-to-date content to support a monthly or weekly distribution? If the information will be repetitve, perhaps quarterly or semi-annual makes more sense.
Your voice. You may have several people contributing articles to your newsletter. Examine it to make sure that it "sounds" like those you represent. Street slang only works for audiences who use it in daily life. Likewise, high-end vocabulary should be reserved for publications which reach the highly educated. Most publications are written at the language level of those with an 8th grade education, max.
Make your newsletter an easy read. Create some departments that will appear each time.
These departments may include:
- Table of Contents- help your readers to easily find what they are interested in.
- Letter from the Chief- the president, principal or CEO adds a personal note of inspiration or thanks.
- Person of the Month- spotlight an employee, volunteer, teacher or student that merits special recognition.
- Photo Gallery- sneak peek of life in your organization
- Coming Up- events about which your readers will want to know.
Select a template that is flexible and will best serve your needs.
Print: There are many desktop publishing applications you can use or you may simply select Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher.
Tip: consider the cost of selecting print. Print newsletters, sent through the mail, require a substantial budget. Price out the cost of paper, printing and distribution (postage) before you go this route.Online newsletters are much more cost-effective but be sure of your audience. Will the recipients read it?
Online: If you choose to send your newsletter by cyberspace, two reputable sites that offer online newsletter services are Constant Contact and Aweber Email Marketing. Each offers a wide range of templates to choose from. They make it very simple to upload the email addresses from your email list, which can be updated and used over and over again.
Tip: more about the value and use of an email list -- Email List: How To Increase Your Subscribers Bigtime.
Writing a Newsletter
The greatest challenge to producing a good newsletter is completing and distributing it in a timely fashion. The value of the newsletter is greatly diminished if it is written hastily or distributed late.
Set a schedule: Establish the date that your newsletter will go in the mail or that you will click "send". Now, work backward from that date to set goals.
Your schedule may look something like this:
- Make assignments. Establish who will write each article.
- Locate photos or assign a photographer to get them. If using copyrighted material, be sure to get written permission first. There are many good sources of copyright free images including Freedigital Photos, Flickr.com and Stock.xchng.
Tip: For more great sources of free to use images: Free Photo Websites for Blogs and HubPages: Sites for Creative Commons Photographs, Images and Pictures by missolive
- Due date for first drafts of articles to proofread.
- Due date for re-writes of articles following first proofread.
- Layout. Place articles and photos in their fields on your template. Arrange spacing to make it visually neat and appealing.
- Proofread. This means you proof it and at least one other person with proofreading skills also proofs it. Print it out and use a red pen to circle errors that will need to be corrected.
Tip: read the newsletter aloud. Yes, though it has been well proofread, to ensure that it makes sense and flows, read it with your voice aloud. For more about this valuable writing technique: Read Aloud-A Key To Writing Success and Excellence.
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Finally, get feedback. Don't be afraid to find out what others think of your newsletter. What did they like? What was missing that should have been there? Any thoughts on how to make it better?
Quality feedback is invaluable in improving any product. Ask!