Newsletters are a great way of keeping your members up to date with club life. There are great newsletters but unfortunately there are often not so great newsletters which fail to fulfil their role.
I have outlined below some hints and tips for your newsletter editor.
Online or offline – what is the best way for you to distribute a newsletter to your members?
Online – there are a number of solutions for creating an e-news letter (for example here at ClubBuzz we use Mail Chimp and find it suits our purposes well). Many online solutions allow you to send e-newsletters for free and are worth your consideration.
Desktop publishing – you may prefer to create your own newsletter using desktop publishing or a simple Word package. You can then attach to a club wide email for distribution or print copies for manual distribution (or a combination of the two).
Whether you use an online system to create newsletters, create your own and send electronically (as an email attachment) or distribute paper newsletters the same guidelines apply.
Decide on your objectives – why are you creating your newsletter? Are there easier ways of communicating, are you doubling up on the role of your website? Be sure you have an objective in mind so that you can assess the impact of your newsletter in line with your aims. For example you may wish to use your newsletter to engage with non-members of the club, you may wish to contact ex-members for whom you hold no email address or you may want to hand it out to parents after training or include some kind of ticket/voucher for distribution.
Choose a punchy subject line for your newsletter – particularly pertinent for emails or e-news as many recipients will choose whether to open your newsletter based solely on the subject line. However, equally as important for all newsletters to ensure they don’t end up in the recycling.
Consider article positioning – many readers will read the first few articles or headlines then skim the rest for items of interest. If you have important messages for your members try and position these (or at least reference these) in the first few lines.
Engage all your members – if this is a club newsletter then it is for all the club members. Try and include articles that appeal to the various groups within the club (seniors/veterans/juniors/social members/ parents etc.)
Make it readable – use plain English, refrain from using jargon and if you want members to react to a particular article be clear about the call to action. Include contacts for general enquiries as well as specific contacts for specific articles.
Don’t stress about the design – you can easily get side tracked and spend more time creating a flashy design than working on pertinent, user-friendly, interesting copy. A newsletter which is engaging and well written will have a greater impact than a newsletter full of images and graphics that is poorly written
Keep it short –The frequency of your newsletter should determine it’s length. if you publish a weekly newsletter then this should really be short (2 sides A4 maximum). If you publish a monthly newsletter then this can be longer (3 to 4 sides) and quarterly even longer but only IF you have interesting articles to include.
Enlist help from guest contributors – however good you are at editing your newsletter you will often run out of ideas for great articles. Talk to other members and committee members to find out what topics would be popular and ask for others to contribute their articles for inclusion.
Proof read – proof read your newsletter and then proof read again. Ask someone you can rely on to proof read it too, you will be surprised how often you will find mistakes even on the second or third read through.
Review – Once the newsletter has been issued review it’s success.
- Ask for feedback from members of the club – what did they like, how clear was it, was it relevant to them?
- Ask for feedback from committee members – did they get any reaction to their articles, where there were calls to action how much response did they get?
- If using an e-newsletter package check click through rates for any links you may have included. This is a good indicator of how relevant members found the articles. Check for open rates, a lower rate may indicate your subject line was not relevant or too “spammy”.
Editing a newsletter can be a challenging and time consuming role for a member so my final word of advice is to support this person by getting information to them in plenty of time, contributing items regularly and occasionally submitting an article for them to include.