The best newsletters and magazines produced by companies not only tie their employees closer together, they also serve as potent marketing materials to vendors and interested bystanders, not to mention current and prospective customers.
The worst ones? They’re more like the office Christmas party; kind of fun for the staff, but painful for those spouses and significant others who are just along for the ride.
If your goal is to create a publication, whether it’s print or online, there are some proven ways to keep it fresh and interesting to people who aren’t on the payroll. Some are pretty much common sense, but those tend to be the first ones that get overlooked:
Set goals. What do you want this thing to do? Is it really just to let the Pomona office know that the Enid branch had a successful blood drive? Or is it going to be a meaningful sharing of best practices across the organization? As a part of this process, come up with some standing, or repeating, features. Having a column by the company president or top officials is a good way to get corporate initiatives out, and a regular spot highlighting a group of employees, or one person in particular, also builds connectivity.
Who’s the reader? If this truly is just an in-house communication device, then you don’t have to worry about it seeming too “insider baseball” for the casual reader. If, on the other hand, it’s going to serve a dual purpose and also be a piece of marketing collateral, then rethink all the peer-to-peer content. It can be tricky to generate stories that engage and inform employees and customers alike, but it can be done. And when it’s done well, the publication becomes very popular, and valued, quickly.
Craft content carefully. Yes, you want to highlight every good thing your company has ever done since time began, but if the end product appears to do nothing but cheerlead, nobody will read much past one or two issues. Ensure viability by creating takeaways, such as process improvements that have been successful in one vision, but can easily be replicated elsewhere. If there’s an industry group, or publication, that is providing amazing information, link or refer to it.
Ask for input. Like the lottery, if you don’t play you can’t win. If you don’t solicit input, you’ll never find out what the readers love — or hate. Ask early, ask often for feedback, and you’ll get some valid suggestions. You’ll also get some comments that may cast a pall over your morning, but that comes with the territory. Separate the wheat from the chaff, and make sure to acknowledge the people whose input has helped make for a better product.
Stay on point. It’s easy to prognosticate about the future of your industry, but let the trade publications do that for you. Focus on your company, and what makes it shine. Employees want to feel empowered, and customers want assurance that they’ve made the right decision by hiring you. If your content not only is positive and informative, but also specific to who you are and what good work you do, it will succeed in pleasing all audiences.
In the end, a newsletter or magazine is just another way of putting your name out there. If it’s done well, the end result will bring a lot of positive attention to your efforts. Employees share these things with family and friends, as do customers. Done right, the publication builds not only significant goodwill, it also does some subtle, positive market positioning for you and your business.