The world seems to be moving at breakneck speed these days. It feels as though we have more to do and less time to do it than ever before! Sadly, "keeping in touch" seems to be one of the activities that often fall by the wayside.
One of the most useful ways of maintaining communication within an organization is through a regularly published newsletter. Whether it is printed on paper or distributed digitally, a newsletter can serve to:
- Build and improve relationships
- Create a feeling of unity
- Communicate fast and efficiently
- Attract attention
- Inform and remind
Components of a Successful Newsletter
Effective newsletters are those that appear on time, are interesting and are attractive and easy to read. Whether you are thinking of starting a brand new publication or you’re updating an existing newsletter format, there are several things you can do to maximize the benefits newsletters can provide.
- Be consistent.
- A regular publication schedule is critical to newsletter credibility and success. A short, more frequently produced newsletter is often preferable to a longer one that comes out sporadically.
- Pick an eye-catching title.
- The name of the publication sets the tone for its content. Avoid cluttered nameplates (The area where the name of the publication appears). Make sure that your newsletter nameplate stands out as a distinct visual element, separate from the headlines and text that follow.
- Leave breathing room.
- Judicious use of white space is an inexpensive way to make your newsletter more attractive and easier to read. Allow generous margins and always provide sufficient "breathing room" at the top and bottom of your pages.
- Make copy easy to read.
- Headlines are crucial to the success of your newsletter. Make headlines as short as possible, while still conveying the point of your story. A good rule of thumb: a two-line headline looks better and reads easier than a threeline headline. Body copy should be as inviting as possible: in most cases, this is achieved by using a typeface that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself. It is commonly accepted that serif typefaces (like Garamond, Times Roman and Palatino) are easier to read than sans serif typefaces (such as Helvetica). This is because the serifs help to guide the reader’s eyes along from letter to letter.
- Make use of subheads.
- Subheads add visual interest to your articles and make them easier to read by breaking expanses of text into manageable, bitesized chunks. Each subhead provides readers with a convenient entry point into the article. Readers are likely to skim your subheads and begin reading when they encounter something that attracts their interest.
- Provide meaningful captions.
- After headlines and subheads, captions are the next most-noticed part of your newsletter. Use captions to not only identify the contents of each photograph, but also to explain their relationship to adjacent text. Captions should be as easy to read as body copy. Avoid long captions set in a tiny type size. Consider setting captions in a contrasting typeface, which will help them stand apart from adjacent body copy.
- Use restraint.
- As tempting as it may be to use multiple design elements, lots of fonts and loads of color to "jazz up" your newsletter, the reality is that an overpowering design may end up turning your reader away.
As the Internet plays a larger role in more people's lives, e-newsletters are becoming a cost effective and easy way to reach P.E.O. members.
If your chapter has its own website, an e-newsletter is a great way to drive sisters to the site. For instance, instead of including a whole article on a highlighted member or topic, include a lead-in paragraph and have the reader click through to your website for the entire story. The article can then be archived on your website and your e-newsletter will take less time to develop.
Electronic newsletters are a little different to produce than traditional newsletters. A few guidelines to keep in mind are:
- Keep it short.
- Too much material is daunting to read online. An e-newsletter should be shorter and simpler than a printed newsletter.
- Design for the medium.
- One of the best ways to determine what makes a good e-newsletter is to check out other organizations’ publications. Go online and subscribe to other e-newsletters. Look for designs that are reader-friendly and content that quickly generates your own interest. Then adapt those winning techniques to improve your own chapter e-newsletter.
- Other essentials.
- Your newsletter should have an easy-to-find place for readers to subscribe or unsubscribe. There should also be a way to reach the editor by phone, mail and/or email so readers can give their input.