How to fill your newsletterOh, it sounded so good at that first meeting. “Let’s launch an internal newsletter,” everyone said. So you all worked out your comms aims, secured a juicy budget and built a crack team to help put it together. But now that the first publishing date is looming closer, you’re wondering how you’re going to fill all that white space. Well, there are a few tricks for making sure that you always have plenty of stories to choose from.
Newspeople are nosey networkers
Forget about Lois Lane wandering the streets with her notebook looking for stories. Real newspeople pump their contacts for information. There’s no way you can be everywhere at once, so put your network on the case, rooting out stories from across your organisation and sending you leads. Each internal event you go to is another chance to add to your list of content contributors. Luckily, most people are delighted to have their projects, ideas and achievements placed in the spotlight. Make sure everyone knows who to approach for a chance to be featured.
Fixed features fill themselves
Well, that’s not quite true. But there are a few regular items that can make life a little easier. One is the Opinion Column. Is there someone with a unique perspective or particularly important point of view that your readers want to hear? Asking someone to write a regular short column can take care of one slot per issue, and gives your newsletter a valuable and familiar human face. Another useful feature is the letters page. It can be tricky to get it fizzing — you may even need to appeal directly to your network — but such pages are generally popular and generate engagement. As a channel for feedback, they can provide valuable insight for management, too.
Turn readers into writers
Even better than a letters page is a social media page. Do you have an internal Twitter or employee YouTube? Any company message boards or corporate blogs? If yes, select some of the most interesting and engaging content from these channels and re-post it in your newsletter. It’s a brilliant way to create cross-channel buzz, and it will bring the best and most interesting opinions and ideas being voiced online to a wider audience, reinforcing the value of these engagement-boosting tools. And if you don’t have any social media support for internal comms yet — get on the case!
Find your own voice
Credibility is a difficult word for an internal newsletter. However, the fact remains that most people are put off by publications that sound too much like the work of corporate strategists. While politically tricky, carving out a little independence for your newsletter is almost always worthwhile in terms of reader engagement. This doesn’t mean that you have to go looking for scandal. Just report the facts and don’t be afraid to tackle sensitive issues. The braver editorial team might even publish the odd critical letter… Some management boards will see the value in this — and some won’t. But test the water. Get it right, and the value of your newsletter will rise exponentially.