How to Create Newsletters That Work

6 Steps to take before a single word is written

newslettersCommunication is important in keeping any business running smoothly, and employee newsletters can be an effective tool for reinforcing a company’s mission and goals. But a successful employee newsletter is more than just a CEO message, list of birthdays and photos from the recent company picnic. In fact, to develop a high-quality publication, you need to develop your publication’s strategy before a single word is written.

You can increase the chance of producing a successful employee newsletter by following these steps and resolving a few questions from the start:

  1. Define your goal

    • Why are you creating this publication?
    • Are you trying to create a sense of unity among a diverse, divided or multi-location workforce? Did your latest employee survey tell you that internal communication needed improvement?
    • What kind of response do you want from your employee readers?
    • Is there a specific corporate value, such as customer service or innovation that you want to promote?
    • Do you need to educate employees on a long-term company initiative, like environmental awareness/sustainability?
    • How will you measure success? Number of people who contribute story ideas? Information feedback? Employee survey?

    When you and your writers have a clear editorial focus, story ideas and angles are easy to determine. Plus, employees will get a consistent message with each newsletter they read.

  2. Communicate your goals with leadership
    Once you have defined why you need to communicate with employees, take time to educate your leadership team on the rationale for the new or revamped publication. Discuss how you plan to measure the success of the newsletter.

  3. Find the most effective format
    An eNewsletter might seem like the obvious move in these digital days, but only if you can guarantee that your workforce can access it easily. Ask yourself:

    • Are all of your employees at computers, with regular access to their own work email account?
    • If yes, will they have time during the workday to read everything in your newsletter?

    Don’t dismiss the print option automatically – it is a format that can be savored and is valued for its relative permanence. A newsletter is only effective if people actually read it.

  4. Come up with a system to develop content
    How will you find good, compelling stories? This is often the toughest part of putting together a newsletter. One Parthenon Publishing client has a regular meeting for key people from various departments across the company to discuss topics for their quarterly employee magazine. Another asked its division heads to contact the newsletter editor with suggestions of employees to profile or significant workplace achievements. Yet another pulls the most interesting stories from its employee recognition program.

    Here is an easy tip: once you begin publishing, always ask for story suggestions in the newsletter itself. A successful newsletter will spur employees to want to tell their own success stories.

  5. Honor your audience
    What’s an employee publication without employees? The best way to illustrate your company values is by putting the spotlight on employees whose efforts embody those values. We call it “Employee as Hero.” You transform the theoretical into something real and achievable, while also letting all employees know that their work is noticed and appreciated. Invest in some great photos of the employee doing what they do best and tell the story with heart!

  6. Create a workable approval process
    Who needs to sign off on the articles before they go to print or get posted? Ideally individual stories get final approval from the person who was interviewed (for fact checking) and any other appropriate people before going into layout. But some larger companies show the completed newsletter to top executives for final approval. If you must have a multi-tiered approval process, be realistic about turnaround times of those top executives, and work that into the production schedule.

Be prepared from the start and you should have the buy-in of key people and employees to make the newsletter a vital and vibrant part of the workplace.