Jul 16

Newsletters: Understanding the Basics

Your organization needs a newsletter

Does your organization have a newsletter? If not, it’s time to start thinking about one. Whether they be electronic or print, newsletters are a fabulous way to share your story and regularly inform your publics by sharing information that is accurate, timely and important.

Newsletters can be a great way to build connections and earn trust with your stakeholders, boost traffic to your website and social media accounts and build a following. They can even combat rumors. They allow you to send information directly to your stakeholders, ensuring it isn’t diluted or filtered by middlemen.

Where to start

Determine how often you want to share a newsletter. Quarterly? Monthly? Weekly? We recommend starting with a manageable time commitment to ensure your success. You can then change the schedule later on if you have more content to share. 

Next, determine the platform you want to use. Do you want to print the newsletter or send it out electronically? Both have pros and cons. Some folks prefer printed newsletters but the easiest way to post to social media, the website and online may be an e-newsletter. MailChimp, ConstantContact, Drop, GetReponse and other platforms are great (and inexpensive) ways to reach your audience.

Now you can start thinking about content!

Pro tip: Make sure you have valuable content to keep readers engaged. Keep your audience in mind by putting yourself in their shoes. Is this something you would want to read? Is this something you need to know?

Content about your organization can vary. You can start your newsletter campaign by explaining if you have a specific purpose for the newsletter or if you have fun tips to share with readers. For example, Plainfield Township has a great weekly blog filled with the latest events and happenings around the Township.

How will you get content ideas?

Make sure your newsletter is a team effort. Email contributors in advance, keep a strict calendar of annual or monthly topics, gather content in one place and keep it organized. It works best to plan in advance if you’re not doing a weekly newsletter.

In preparing articles, start with the 5 Ws and an H – who, what, when, where, why and how? Make sure that you have engaging headlines that reflect the main point – be sure not to bury the lead. Ditch the jargon. Writing for a broad audience can be a challenge as it is, so keep it simple. Write using the inverted pyramid style and keep it broad, most important information first and then details later. This makes the information easy to read for all, gets the main points high into the story and lets the reader decide when to stop reading.

Measure your success 

Don’t forget to keep track of your stats. Online platforms allow you to see how many subscribers you have, open rates, bounce rates and the amount of unsubscribes you’ve had. This is a great way to gauge where you are at with your readers and the type of content they enjoy seeing from you.

Newsletters can be challenging to begin but can bring real value to your organization. Check out Plainfield Township’s weekly e-newsletter here.


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