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How to create a newsletter that doesn't suck

Email newsletters have a terrible reputation.

If you ask employees if they want a newsletter, they’ll usually say NO. Loudly.

And you know what, I don’t blame them. Because most employee newsletters are crap.

Here’s 4 of the most common mistakes I see in employee newsletters and how to avoid them:

  1. Letting irrelevant content seep in

Your job as an internal communicator is to protect your audience. Protect them from jargon, complex language, rambling walls of text and irrelevant content.

Some of the worst newsletters I’ve ever seen act simply as a postbox for the organisation; anyone can send content in and it gets published. Even if it’s totally irrelevant to the reader.

Irrelevant content will make your reader tune out and will even make them annoyed. Eventually they’ll stop opening the newsletter at all.

So take charge and be the gatekeeper for content. Identify what is relevant to your audience and what isn’t. Document that and share it with your stakeholders. Let them know what you’ll include and what you’ll refuse (even if they stamp their foot and make demands).

Protect your audience, at all costs!

2. Writing for the approver, not the reader

Have you ever gone through a round of edits and approvals with a stakeholder, only to end up with a long-winded and terrible piece of content by the end of it? Then you just agree to what they want so that you can stop looking at this piece of crap and get on with your life?

You are not alone. This happens a lot.

But if you start writing your content for the approver, and not for your audience, then you’re not doing your job. Your content should resonate with the reader, even if your stakeholders grumble about your removal of all the technical jargon and multi-letter acronyms. Because who on earth wants to read an article titled "Utilising Synergistic Paradigms for Implementing the EPM Solution to Enhance BPR and ROI in Q3 FY2023”?

3. Not getting to the point, quickly (aka waffling)

People are busy. They don’t want to read your three-paragraph contextual introduction where you set the scene and introduce all the main characters.

They just want you to get the point, quickly.

Give employees succinct, to-the-point information that they can digest quickly and easily. Put the most important part at the top – especially if there’s something you want them to DO as a result of the communication.

Digital communication has transformed how we consume information, and people now scan and skim rather than read everything. Brevity is your new best friend. So when you feel the urge to indulge in a dose of long-windedness and start waffling, STOP. Protect your audience, remember?

4. Using terrible images

Visual communication is so important. Your readers will scan the images and headlines to make snap decisions on what is worth the investment of their time. If your images are terrible, they won't read your content.

I see a lot of crap images included in newsletters. Stretched, grainy, blurry images that really make your newsletter look unprofessional and thrown-together. Sometimes I see quite boring content alongside an even more boring photograph, which is a double-whammy of snooze-inducement.

Where you can, use an image of a person. People love reading stories about people, especially people they know. You can also create really good infographics and images on self-serve graphic design tools like Piktochart and Canva. Why not try using some high-quality, free photographs from sites like Unsplash?

Want more help?

If you want to dive deeper and learn how to make a newsletter your audience will love, then ask me about my newsletter masterclass. I'll teach you everything you need to know to make an incredible newsletter that employees will actually enjoy reading. (Yes, it's possible!) See what previous students say about the masterclass here.


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