For many years, the corporate newsletter has been a cornerstone of organisational communication strategies. Typically sent out quarterly or monthly, it’s used to let your constituents, clients or stakeholders know what you’ve been up to and what you can offer them.
However, the advent of social media means your stakeholders or ‘followers’ can find out in real time what you’re doing, what you’re planning and what is important to you. This is great but do you need to continue churning out your periodic newsletter? Has your newsletter lost its relevance and should it to be relegated to the communication archives?
No, though, you do need to rethink the purpose and content of your newsletter to ensure it remains important, interesting and accessible to your audience.
Social media is not a communication panacea
Social media and the internet are valuable additions to the communication toolbox but they should complement rather than replace traditional means of communication.
Relying on the internet and social media for your communications can be risky. Consider this:
- 20% of people in Australia’s regional communities don’t access the internet
- 40% of Australians over 65 don’t use the internet
- 35% of Australians who use the internet don’t use social media.1
Access to the internet is strong and social media usage is growing. However, they are yet to become universally used. Therefore, tools such as a newsletter can still have a role as long as you make adjustments to retain their relevance.
Focus on your audience
Firstly, identify what your audience wants to know about you. Why are they interested in what you do and what impact does it have on them. Newsletters are too often written from the point of view of what your organisation wants to say not what your audience wants to know.
Secondly, investigate how your audience discovers news and updates: where do they go either online or in the physical world to get information. This knowledge can help determine the best way to distribute both the electronic and print versions of your newsletter.
Thirdly, ensure your newsletter does more than just recapitulate your recent online announcements. Freshen it up by including in-depth analysis of issues or programs and have regular features or columns.
- Consider producing an amended print version of your electronic newsletter. If most of your online audience has been already updated via social media or blogs, then provide them with something new via your electronic newsletter. If your target market includes people who don’t interact with you online, prepare an amended version for them that includes your recent online updates plus what you cover in the electronic version.
- Encourage your audience to be part of the newsletter. Include case studies in your newsletter or invite stakeholders to contribute relevant advice or articles.
- Keep your newsletter easy-to-read and understand. Avoid busy designs and make sure your copy can be scanned whether it is read on screen or in print. That way the reader can quickly identify what is important or of interest to them.
1 2013 Yellow™ Social Media Report, released by Sensis, May 2013