“Excellence is never an accident.” – Aristotle
A newsletter is a written report that is issued periodically by an organisation and which conveys information and news to an audience with a specific interest in the organisation or subject therein. A newsletter can also serve as an advocacy tool in articulating a specific issue and urging the target audience to act in a certain away, i.e., call to action. Further, it also serves as a subtle marketing tool in creating awareness about an organisation and its activities.
That said, a newsletter, and an effective one at that, does not happen by accident. Rather, it calls for deliberation, teamwork, commitment, lots of patience and a healthy respect for set deadlines by everyone involved in its production. We can think of the effective newsletter as being anchored in two principles: ‘the new’ and ‘the news’.
Being periodically in nature, each edition of your newsletter has to be fresh, that is, each issue has to look brand new yet retaining the familiar. Think of it as analogous to your favourite TV series, say, Game of Thrones – though building on the previous one, each episode is freshly told in vivid colour and detail, and so too should every issue of your newsletter. This ensures that your newsletter is engaging to your audience every time and that they always look forward to the next edition.
So, how do you pull off a brand-new edition every time? It boils down to thoughtful design. Graphic elements to aid in this include the masthead, layout and length, and which are complemented by the contents of the newsletter.
At a glance, the masthead acts as your newsletter identifier. And just like in the days of yore when a ship’s masthead would come to view first as the ship called to port, your newsletter’s masthead is the portal to your newsletter. This means that it must stand out by way of appeal.
The layout of your newsletter has to be aesthetic, yet presenting the content in a way that does not hinder readability. This calls for developing a house style for your newsletter – average length of the newsletter, fonts to be used, deployment of headlines, use of imagery, theme colour or colours and sections. This ensures uniformity across all your editions as well as simplifies content generation.
Basically, the news is the content, the meat, so to speak, of your newsletter. Such content has to be deliberate and thought provoking. And just like a preacher carefully prepares each of his sermon for impact, so too should your content. In this, you should be guided by the maxim that ‘Content is King’.
This means that content should be tailored to cater to the target audience – with their feedback being incorporated in developing content for the next edition. As such, the content has to be presented in innovative and engaging ways. This include having snippets which can be consumed in seconds, graphic presentation of facts and figures in easily digestible format (infographics) and the judicious use of imagery to complement copy.
That said, the copy should be easily understood. This entails avoiding jargon and using simple sentences to convey information and ideas. Others include tone and avoiding clichés. Further, the call to action should be thorough, strong and backed by persuasive arguments and facts. This will ensure that each edition of your newsletter executes its mandate as a mouthpiece for your organisation.