Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Diana Nadim Adjadj. Her opinions are her own.
When I was in college, I was a part of the campus newspaper team. Every month, we published that “masterpiece” we thought was worthy of a journalism award.
By the end of the day of distribution, the campus was littered with copies of that newspaper, blowing about and giving the lawn maintenance people lots of job security.
Did anyone actually read the paper? Who knew? We kept our ears to the ground and listened for discussion of the articles we had written. Most of the time, we were disappointed.
But every once in a while, we struck a “nerve,” and something we wrote became a topic of conversation.
And as we analyzed what was right about that article, we always came to the same conclusion – the topic was compelling, and the way the article was written engaged via intrigue, humor, inspiration, and/or some emotional hook.
Campuses today are no longer littered with the remnants of student newspapers as they are now digitally delivered.
Businesses that have always sported internal newsletters have gone digital as well. Their trash cans are no longer filled with their remains.
But the same issue remains – who’s even reading the newsletters? Are they engaging enough that employees actually look forward to them? If not, you are wasting your time.
If you are concerned that your company newsletters are falling “flat,” then here are some tips and strategies that can turn those dull pieces into something more exciting and keep employees informed and feeling good about their employers.
1. Think like a journalist
If you or your department is charged with newsletter creation, the first order of business is to begin to think and act like a journalist. Take a look at articles that are published by some of the most popular local or national news outlets.
- The first thing you should notice is the headline. It is the single most important “hook” that will cause a reader to move on to the article. Not everyone is skilled in developing creative engaging headlines. But there are a number of generator tools that can help. Try some of them.
- The first sentence of the article is the second most important hook. You may notice that there is often a sub-headline that provides further cause for interest.
- The article itself still follows traditional journalistic style of the inverted pyramid – the most important content first, moving down to the less important points. Even if the reader doesn’t finish the entire article, he does get the most important information.
2. Selection of topics
This, too, is a key to generating interest on the part of readers. Here, you need to think first about the purpose for your newsletter. They should include any or all of the following, along with other specific facts related to your company:
- Maintaining a means of communication within the workplace.
- Keeping employees up to date on what is happening within the business
- Fostering greater connection and understanding among employees/departments, especially in large enterprises where people don’t know everyone
- Promoting a company culture of “We’re all in this together” and a feeling that people matter as much as profit
- Focusing on topics that you believe your audience (employees) want to read about. Ask them what they want to read more about!
Within these larger contexts, more specific topics can be generated:
- Any updates on new products or services
- Changes in employee benefits or perks
- Upcoming events – training, social activities, etc.
- Vacancies, promotions, and changes in top leadership positions
- Spotlights on employees and departments
- Employee-generated content
- Results of surveys that may have been taken and what the company is doing about the results
3. Style and tone
How do you craft a newsletter that is equally valued by everyone from the maintenance crew up to supervisors and managers? This is a real challenge, but here you can take some direction from content writers, such as bloggers.
- Keep the style informal and conversational. No one wants to read a piece that sounds like a college research paper, with all of the big words, complex sentences, and industry jargon. And that goes for top level managers as well as clerical and maintenance staff. Keep it simple. Ideal reading level for blog posts is about 7th – 8th grade. There is some really interesting stuff written about adult reading levels that will probably surprise you. Just remember, you are not writing a research paper, report, a presentation, or a white paper.
- Keep the tone light: While you cannot make jokes about a new product or service or about an employee you are highlighting, you can keep the tone light and easy. People have enough seriousness in their work and adult lives. You don’t have to add to it with a serious tone. Plus, it’s just boring.
4. Use as many visuals as possible
Research shows that people are far more engaged when they have photos, illustrations, and other visuals.
And have you thought about videos? Now that your newsletter is visual, what’s to stop you from featuring an employee or department with a short video? What about a “how-to” or explainer video about a new product?
Think of your newsletter as a marketing tool – you are not promoting a product or service, but you are marketing the company as a whole to its employees. The more visuals you can use, the more engaged your employees will be.
5. Don’t overdo it
The great thing about newsletters is that they are not a one-time thing. You either have a schedule for publication or, if you are a smaller business, you may publish somewhat randomly.
But the point it, you don’t have to cram everything into this current issue. Far better to create a few amazing articles than numerous ones that require lots of time for your readers to spend.
And you can always give teasers to topics that will be coming in the next newsletter – just to whet appetites a bit.
6. Be truthful
Sometimes, a serious article is called for. Every company has its trials and challenges. And when that happens, employees get anxious and listen to lots of rumors in the workplace. Dispel these with a short article about a challenge and how the company is planning to meet it. Never cover up, avoid, or sugar-coat.
7. Get help when you need it
You may have the topics; you may know what you want to say; you may have regular features that will be a regular part of every newsletter. What you may lack, though, is the pizazz that makes our articles pop for your readers.
You’ve done the hard work here – you have planned the content. Don’t be ashamed that you might have to seek some outside help to add the creative copywriting that will engage and delight. Check out the creative and copywriting departments at Trust My Paper. These pros can turn your copy into amazing pieces that will engage, compel, and delight.
In the end company newsletters serve an important purpose. Most importantly, they keep employees “connected” with one another and with the company as a whole. Never underestimate their importance. Using these seven tips will mean greater readership; and greater readership equals greater emotional investment in the company.