A Beginner's Guide to Creating Newsletters
Your boss has put you in charge of a company or department newsletter, but you've never taken an editing or graphic design class? Don't panic. Today, many admins are taking on this responsibility. These tips will help you get started.
The biggest mistake newsletter novices make is including articles that are too long, says Elaine Floyd, the St. Louis-based author of Quick and Easy Newsletters. The longest article should take up no more than two columns on a three-column page, but most pieces should be less than 100 words. You can learn how to condense information into tight packages by studying newspaper business briefs.
In e-newsletters, Floyd simply includes headlines and a sentence or two about the story's subject with a link to the full article.
And, of course, don't forget to ask someone else to proofread the newsletter before you send it out.
Because it's harder to manipulate graphics in word-processing programs, it helps to purchase publishing software that includes newsletter templates, suggests Judy McCoy, CPS/CAP, who volunteers to work on the newsletter of the Bellingham, Washington, chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. To start, follow a template, and then experiment as you learn more about design aesthetics and program commands.
While an e-newsletter with headlines and links doesn't need graphics, photos and clip art are essential to draw the reader into print and Web-based newsletters, say both Floyd and McCoy. Each page should include at least one large image, Floyd suggests.
Remember that the eye tracks to headlines and photos first, Floyd says. Keep your headlines clear and focused. Also, "if at all possible, put the main point of the article in the [photo] caption," she says.
To make your e-newsletter stand out in subscribers' inboxes, keep your newsletter name short and memorable, and then include keywords to top stories in the subject line to entice the reader. For example, "(Company Name) Insider: Stock Update, Trade Show News, Christmas Bonus," suggests Floyd.
Hold the Presses
For her newsletter, McCoy posts it online rather than mails it. She doesn't need to recruit other volunteers to fold, seal, stamp and mail the newsletters, thereby saving the organization $1,000 annually in printing and sending costs. Whenever there's a new newsletter, McCoy just emails the corresponding link to members.
However, before you stop sending the print version, you need to consider your audience -- fellow employees, customers/clients or association members -- and which format they are most likely to read, says Floyd. People deluged with more than 100 emails every day may forget or even erase your newsletter, accidentally or because they simply don't have time to read it as they check their email.
"I'm finding that you get a lot more attention by sending things by fax or printing," Floyd says. "In marketing, you always have to go where the abundance isn't."