From Good to Great Newsletters, Part I: Content

Newsletters are a great staple vehicle for many organizations to communicate to an array of audiences – from employees and association members to customers and residents in a community.

Before you begin creating a newsletter you must be clear on its purpose. First of all, who is your audience?

Remember you’re talking to customers, employees and prospects. Keep their needs and interests in mind at all times. They are probably not interested in only reading about the employee of the month – they want new information that helps them on a daily basis.

Whether you already publish a newsletter or you’re putting one together for the first time, keep these helpful content ideas in mind.

  1. Product information/application stories. Consider success stories about an old or new product or service that your company offers. It shouldn’t be a hard core sales pitch. Tell your customers, staff and prospects about other people’s positive experiences with the product/service.
  2. Company news and information. Stories that acknowledge your achievements lend credibility to your business. Employees like to work for a successful company. Customers/ prospects read about how others respect you and therefore, begin to look at you as an expert in your field. Company and industry info might also include: business milestones, goals your business has accomplished, community affairs, financial information. They can also include: joint ventures, special events, overseas activity, new product releases.
  3. Related interest stories. Is there something happening in current events that relates to your business?
  4. “How to” and tips features. Examples: how to boost your desktop’s performance, 10 tips to get some exercise at the office, top 10 ways to get the most out of your team.
  5. Interviews. They include interviews from customers, employees and experts. Examples: interview an employee that won an award, an expert related to your industry, a satisfied customer, people profiles.
  6. Product news. These articles include information about your company’s product or services.  Examples: new products, improvements to existing products, new accessories.
  7. Visuals.  Not only do visuals spruce up the look & feel of the newsletter, they help to illustrate key information and add interest.  Examples: charts, photos, graphics, graphs.
  8. Entertaining information. Consider humorous and offbeat information. Examples: contests; quizzes, trivia, puzzles, games, cartoons, inspiring quotes.  Are you renaming your company newsletter? Hold a contest for the best name.
  9. Educational content. Does your company sell complicated technology or work in a complex field with a lot of industry jargon?  Include a Technical Word of the Month.
  10. Excerpts. Use information from other resources that support your business. Examples: journal articles, a recap of an industry seminar, reprints, speeches, etc.
  11. Polls and surveys. E-newsletters are a great opportunity to conduct short polls and online surveys.
  12. Social media and interactive elements. For e-newsletters, create opportunities that go beyond reading and include interaction:  Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, podcasts series.
  13. Themed issues.  For example, in August do a round-up of employees’ summer vacations and design the page so that the pictures included looked like postcards.
  14. Get personal. Who just had a baby or getting married?  Who has a favourite recipe to share?  Consider a photo contest with employees.
  15. Professional and personal development.  Consider a series on goal-setting and life/business coaching.

Hope this helps!

Oh, one more thing…when choosing a story keep your schedule and deadlines in mind.  Remember that it takes time to research a story, interview people, write the story, take photos if needed, etc. It’s important to leave enough time for each step to be completed efficiently, not rushed. Stay tuned for Part II in the near future, which drills down into more detail to ensure your newsletter is effective.  Maria Loscerbo