Tips for creating a great internal newsletter

January 21, 2008

The cornerstone of many internal communication plans is the employee newsletter. Even in this age of intranets and CEO podcasts, the newsletter remains the communication workhorse for many organizations. What goes into a great employee newsletter? The following eight points will tell you what I think.

1. A combination of fun, morale-boosting features and useful corporate information. Yes, everyone wants to read about the latest employee to get married or have a baby, but employee newsletters should also inform readers about new products, policies and services.

Even if you’ve sent out corporate information through formal avenues such as email memos, employees will be more likely to retain the information if they see it again in the newsletter. Don’t just repeat the info, though. Add interest by interviewing those involved in the new program or corporate decision. Get other employees to voice their opinions or questions about it as well. Use the opportunity to explain the organization’s message in more depth.

2. Have a consistent look. Your newsletter should have a consistent style, layout, format and publication schedule. This will make it easier to read, more attractive and relied upon as a source of information. If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, or the budget to outsource one for this purpose, seriously consider contracting with one to set up a design template for you to use as a guide. A good design layout can have a huge influence on readability.

3. Involve employees. When employees are involved by contributing to the newsletter, they are more likely to read it and it will be more relevant to them. Even if you don’t have a formal newsletter committee, recruit several staff members to be regular or semi-regular contributers.

4 . Make it interesting. This seems obvious, but many newsletters end up being a series of monologues delivered from senior executives. Writing style should follow the same principles as for a newspaper or magazine article. Include lots of quotes from those involved in the story as well as descriptive pictures. Try to stay away from static photos such as people lined up at the golf tournament or employees shaking hands with the CEO while receiving an award. Favour action photos with visual interest.

5. Provide a digital and hard copy. Email saves paper, but given overloaded in-boxes and some employees who rarely need to use a computer, providing some hard copies of the newsletter is still necessary. Some people will always prefer to read a hard copy and by having a stack located in coffee areas or by the water cooler, folks are more likely to pick them up and read them when they have a spare moment. Experiment with how many hard copies you need. Not everyone needs a hard copy—they just need to have access to one.

6. Distribution. Don’t forget to send copies of the newsletter to employees on medical or other leave. This will help them to remain connected and informed. Also look beyond employees. If you have a volunteer base at your non-profit, for instance, assess if your employee newsletter would be appropriate for this audience as well.

7. Link to other media. Integrate your newsletter with other internal communication tools. You can have longer features on your company’s intranet, for example, or a series of photographs related to the story that you didn’t have room to publish. Some companies have posted videos on their intranets that provide extra background to newsletter stories. For companies having difficulty driving traffic to the intranet, linking newsletter content can help.

8. Get feedback. As with all other communication programs, get feedback from employees from time to time. Survey them to find out what features they regularly read and what kind of information they tend to retain from a newsletter format. This sometimes yields surprising results.

Have you got an employee newsletter tip or question? Send a comment.

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23 Responses to “Tips for creating a great internal newsletter”

  1. messagecom Says:

    Thanks for reading the blog, Nikita, and for catching that typo. Cheers!

  2. nikita Says:

    Thank you for your tips.
    Could you change the spelling in the 6th point from asses to assess? The first word is a plural form of the animal.

  3. messagecom Says:

    Snegugu, There is a lot of info on the Web and do explore the archives of this blog for help with newsletter writing. I’d be happy to help if you have a specific question. Best of luck.

  4. messagecom Says:

    Thanks for your question, Winton. Although it’s tricky to address, yours is not an uncommon problem. Board chairs, presidents, CEO’s and deans sometimes over value the readability of what they submit to the newsletter.

    I like your idea of trying to address it with him directly. You can also point out to him that newsletter readers have become “info snackers” when it comes to content. If articles are very long, they are far less likely to get read. If you have a staff intranet, you could also propose having a short version of his comments in the newsletter while offering readers more on that platform.

    If you’re on really good terms with this fellow, ask him to monitor what he chooses to read when he picks up one of his regular newsletters. Ask him how often he’ll delve into a five page article. Make the case that more of his message will get through if it is shorter.

    If the direct approach is hard to do or is ineffective, consider administering an anonymous newsletter survey. List the various features in the newsletter and have readers rate what they regularly read, what they’d like to see more of, and what they ignore. I’m a big fan of reader surveys because they help to keep your newsletter relavent and I’m always surprised on at least one or two items. With results in hand, you can then approach your dean to suggest you try a different (shorter) format for his contributions.

    I hope this was helpful and best of luck with your publication.


  5. How do I discourage the dean of the education department at my university who insists on publishing a 5 page address to the staff every month (as part of the internal staff newsletter). He is a regular contributor to books and can go on writing and writing and writing and expects us to place every word every month. I would like to say to him that staff newsletters are just one part of an integrated internal communication strategy to staff. One of the important elements is personal face-to-face communications and maybe the bulk of what he writes can be used in these sessions with the staff? Any thoughts?

  6. messagecom Says:

    Thanks for your question, Saurabh Sinha. It would be hard to speak to those three separate audiences in one newsletter. They all have different interests. I’m not sure of the exact nature of your business but if you’re unsure of what kind of content to include in the agents’ newsletter, why not start by asking a few of them what kind of information they would be interested in? If the agents are selling your machines, perhaps information that would be helpful to their sales would be in order. Product information, sales trends etc.

    Good luck with your publications.

  7. Saurabh Sinha, India Says:

    Hi,

    I have a task of creating newsletter for three sets of readers – employees, the agents ( who are tied up with an agency agreement to sell our machines) and third are customers.

    Should there be a separate newsletter for employees and for our business agents and customers?. What should a news letter for agents contain ?

    Please give suggestions !!

  8. messagecom Says:

    Thanks, Larry. Good luck with your publication.

  9. Larry Nyenty Says:

    You are great! I am very d’accord with this. like the others, i am starting an internal newsletter to help build a culture of excellence, innovation, competition and affiliation to the company amongst over 1 000 employees.
    Its damn challenging considering my little experience in the field. I really need lots of tips like this to get me inspired and encouraged.

  10. messagecom Says:

    Hi Idris,
    Finding the right name for an internal newsletter can be a challenge. Think of your company’s name and the goals of your publication for inspiration. Sometimes it’s helpful to gather a few key people at your organization for a brainstorming session to come up with a few potential names. You could then get your organization’s staff to vote on the one that they think best suits the publication and the organization.

    Good luck.

  11. idris Says:

    Hi..please help i am searching a good name for the newsletter which includes departmental news and corporate news, more importantly it shall contain social page news about our valued staff, personal interviews with our staff, and articles of our choice…….please let me know if u have any great name…thanks

  12. Jack Tito Says:

    am working on a company newslatter and i have found great ideas that will help me write it.

  13. Jack Tito Says:

    am working on a company newslatter and i have no idea. pliz help.

  14. Mandar Says:

    I am working on internal newsletter for my company. The points you mentioned are great inputs to it.


  15. Excellent advice, it’s essential to ensure staff and internal communications are as high quality as something you’d choose to buy.


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  17. messagecom Says:

    Good luck with your newsletter, Zaheera. Hope all goes well. Sometimes change takes time. Getting some of your audience members involved in the new format/content of the newsletter might help. Perhaps you could start with a survey about what kind of information staff members would like to see in the newsletter.

  18. Zaheera Walker Says:

    Hi

    I am starting a newsletter at my new job. Very nervous about it because trying to change the staff mindset is a challenge. But keeping my fingers crossed…Zaheera


  19. […] Comments messagecom on Email protocolDonna Robbins on Email protocolChanchal Malhotra on Tips for creating a great inte…messagecom on How to write English for inter…Mark Buell on Plain language key to […]


  20. Tips are really helpful. I have made my company’s newsletter very interesting & informative using your tips.

    Thanks a lot.

    Warm Regards
    Chanchal Malhotra

  21. claudine Says:

    artigo sobre internal newsletter

  22. Felix Says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Your article help me in getting a good kickstart of my company internal Asia pacific newsletter which will be our first.

    Thanks and look forward for more tips!

    Btw, would like to connect to you via Linkedin, can you let me know your email address?

    Cheers!
    Felix


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