Whether you want to showcase your company, support marketing, inform stakeholders or announce a new product or service, a newsletter – be it online or in print – is a great way to provide updates to your clients, referral sources, prospects and other audiences. A newsletter is vibrant and current. It includes topics, photos and graphics to distinguish your brand and interest your readers with articles ranging from short, descriptive briefs to informative columns and in-depth features. Headlines alone often tell a story. Because it is varied and attractive, newsletters generate a positive image, setting your company apart from the competition. For employees, a newsletter educates them about their own company and becomes an interactive communications channel.

Topics Run the Gamut, Appealing to a Variety of Stakeholders
Every business has news to share! Your newsletter can feature a mix of pieces on some of the following topics:

– New products and/or services
– Industry trends
– How-to and advice columns
– Company and industry events
– Positive company results (this makes everyone happy!)
– Employee updates:

New hires
Features on key people who are experts in their fields and those who have personal contact with your customers and prospects
Additional spotlights on staff for those who go “above and beyond” at the office or with community service (good for boosting company morale and showcasing high quality of staff)
Even highlighting challenges shows the integrity and honesty of a company and its resilience to address issues and progress through bumps in the road.

If you have creative people on staff with design and writing experience, you can do-it-yourself, as long as your team members have the time and are committed to the project. Newsletters must be current, so plan to produce one regularly – monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or three times a year, depending on the individual organization. It’s a good practice to use a consultant when you decide to go in-house, to get started, unless your team already has this expertise. Your in-house team will likely consist of a writer and designer as well as someone to oversee the process and assist in establishing a production schedule.

Costs include your employees’ time to write and produce it as well as the time spent managing the contact list and disseminating the finished work through online tools and/or print (more on both of these options below). Having the newsletter professionally printed will guarantee a quality product with printing fees varying based on length and other factors.

Outsourcing Content and Design
If you decide to outsource the process, be sure to find experts who are committed to getting to know your organization and your readers. As with an in-house team, the external group will typically include a consultant, writer and designer, working together to understand your organization and the image/brand that needs to be communicated. Finding one specialist with expertise in all areas is also possible. Remember the writing process is best if it includes interviews of individuals and quotes – written news style – to reflect the energy and inspiration of your people. The designer will develop the look and feel to reflect the individual company brand and works closely with the writer to name the newsletter and prepare the masthead. Both the writing style and design are critical, as newsletters are complex and unique, unlike any other marketing or collateral project. Fees will vary, depending on length, size, and outside expenses.

Online Tools Make Dissemination Easy
Programs like Constant Contact and Mailchimp enable you to distribute online newsletters with ease as well as maintain segmented target lists and evaluate the results, including the open rate. In addition, consider posting the newsletter to your website as another means to keep your site active. By hyperlinking keywords in your content, your newsletter and site may be found by search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, which are always seeking strong content.

Print Remains Powerful
The same newsletter created for online dissemination becomes a powerful piece of collateral when printed. Newsletters look great on a conference table, in the lobby, at the concierge desk or in the waiting area. They are also attention grabbers when they arrive in the mail.

Once You Start, You Can’t Stop
Once you publish your first newsletter, sometimes even before it’s distributed or printed, you will find yourself thinking about the next one! As you go through your workday, speaking with your staff, clients and prospects, you will find that ideas keep popping into your head – messages you want to convey and trends you observe. Be sure to save them and you are well on your way to the next edition!

Please reach out to me with any newsletter questions at Caryl@Caryl.com or 201-796-7788.