Global communications in English

Posts tagged ‘newsletters’

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.

What did you do to my article?!

Managing expectations

desparate Newsletters often depend on contributions from people within the company. But sometimes the information submitted needs to be significantly edited to make it as clear, informative and engaging as it needs to be for the audience. Obviously, you don’t want those who have worked hard on a piece to feel offended if changes are made to it. You can avoid this by carefully managing your contributors’ input and expectations throughout the process.

Sometimes when a colleague has spent time and effort on a submission, they may feel quite confident that it’s very good and ‘ready-to-print’. So if the article — to a communication specialist’s eye — is too long, complex, or woolly, this can create a tricky situation. These tips will help you avoid this happening, and make it easier to keep contributors’ feathers smoothed when big changes do have to be made.


Clearly define the parameters of the article, including the desired length, tone of voice and the essence of what needs to be communicated. Remind those writing from a specialised (scientific/technological) point of view that they need to keep it as direct and simple as possible if the audience is non-specialist. Should articles need to have specific layout characteristics, provide a bullet-point overview of what these are (e.g., include a headline and a sub-headline; provide an introduction of a certain length; use subheadings at least every couple of paragraphs). If these requirements are made clear to contributors at the start, they will be less taken aback if their piece later has to be adapted to adhere to them.


You can quickly see whether a submission is more or less fine, or whether it needs to be significantly modified. If it does (and it’s not feasible to ask the contributor to submit another version), officially thank them for their article: this gives you the chance to immediately communicate in a friendly way that changes are going to be made to the piece to make it fit the parameters. If possible, give them an idea of what these changes will be (e.g., you will be featuring just the results, not the study details; the language will be simplified; and you’ll be restructuring it to bring that interesting information to the top). This gives them a heads-up as to the changes they’ll see later, removing the possible element of unpleasant surprise.


Some contributors don’t care if you change their work — but that’s not always the case. Assure those who have a serious vested interest (professional or political) in what they’ve communicated that you want them to review the edited version. The key to making this step go smoothly is — again — providing clear parameters. Emphasise that you are asking them to review the piece for accuracy (you don’t want them to rewrite it!). Request that corrections be inserted using track changes for easy identification. Mention that if they feel strongly about including deleted information, they then have to indicate text that can be cut to keep the article the proper length. Continuing to give contributors this element of control (carefully controlled by you!) right to the end of the process can help keep even the touchiest ones satisfied, and your editorial processes running smoothly.

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