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Posts tagged ‘internal’

Setting up an internal newsletter

An internal newsletter can be so much more than a bulletin board. For example, it can support engagement, act as a channel for reinforcing strategic messages, or set the tone of your company culture. However, deciding what role your newsletter should play in your communication mix is only half the battle. Making sure it actually succeeds is where the real work comes in. We assume you already know what you want your newsletter to do — so here is our ABC of how to make it happen.

A is for Appeal
Your newsletter can’t achieve anything unless people read it. Make it cry out to be picked up and read, or clicked on and shared. To do this, you need to assess every aspect of your newsletter from the point of view of your target audience. Are they more likely to read print or digital? What kind of layout will grab their attention? How much text do they want to read? Even if it’s a channel for corporate and strategy messages, you need to think twice before using management-speak and pictures of grey suits. But remember — your newsletter is first and foremost a communication tool. Always ask two questions: Does this speak to my readers? Does it communicate and reinforce my messages?

B is for Budget
As you plan your budget, the most obvious cost factors will be set by the form your newsletter takes, not least whether you need to print and distribute it. However, there are a lot of less obvious factors that will be hidden inside your editorial process. For example, as a general rule, the more people who need to read and review an article, the more time it’s going to eat up. The less specific your brief is, the longer your designer, photographer or copywriter will spend coming up with the right content. The real trick here is to work with transparency (so everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them) and simplicity — kick those extra cooks out of the kitchen so you can get the recipe right.

C is for Control
Once you’re on the road, you need to keep a firm hand on the wheel to make sure you don’t veer off course. Newsletter projects can be susceptible to ‘brief-creep’ — when the people working on it think they know what it’s for and how to achieve it, but allow assumptions and misunderstandings to build up. Slowly, issue by issue, the look, feel and effect of your newsletter morphs into something you don’t want or need. Preventing this starts with you. Drill into your team the reasons why a particular style, or tone of voice, format or layout has been chosen. And make sure new team members thoroughly understand why things are being done a particular way.

Anyone got a story for the newsletter?

How to fill your newsletter

newsletter Oh, 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.

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