Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Producing a Newsletter: Style and Content

Producing a Newsletter: Style and Content

In the first part of this help sheet, we looked at some of the basic considerations when it comes to your community group or organisation producing a newsletter, including the importance of:
  • Knowing the goals of your newsletter.
  • Knowing its target audience.
  • Considering costs and how to cover them, and.
  • Looking at circulation of the newsletter.
The second part of the help sheet examines some of the style and content points you need to consider when compiling your group's newsletter.


How Should it Look – the Style of Your Newsletter

Your newsletter is a small public relations campaign and it's very important to look competent.

The good news is that improvements in desktop publishing have made it easier for even the smallest community groups to turn out attractive and professional publications.

In doing so, your group needs to consider some style points.

  • Keep it short. We are all bombarded with information, and we are all becoming more selective about what we read.
    • Even if your publications have a good reputation and don't get thrown directly into the bin, people will still bin them as soon as they're bored.
    • You've spent money on that page (another reason to be brief) but the reader hasn't, and they lose nothing if they turn away. Shorter is better.
  • Keep it bright and clear.
    • Try to break up big blocks of text with photos, graphics or cartoons.
    • Break up your pages with white space.
    • Print in columns.
    • Use sub-headings.
    • Put text in boxes, or shaded paragraphs.
    • Ask yourself if the budget will run to another colour (or print on coloured paper).
  • Keep it simple.
    • Complicated layouts are distracting, and probably require more expertise than you have in-house to do it well.
    • Stick to a simple, readable and common font throughout the newsletter (with bold or italics where needed).
    • If you email your newsletter or people download it from your website, you need to keep it at a moderate size.



What Should it Say – Your Newsletter's Content

The most stylish looking newsletter will still end up in the bin very quickly if its content is dull, uninformative or irrelevant.

Think of your target audience and cater to them. Inform them, entertain them, help them and guide them – just don't bore them!

To fill your newsletter, look for:
  • News articles on relevant issues. Again, remember copyright restrictions (see later on in this help sheet for more information), and do ask the relevant publications if you can reprint any articles you might need.
  • Legislative/policy updates. You may want to inform people of them, or you may want your readers to lobby the Government.
  • Analysis of relevant issues – especially linked to the above point.
  • How-to guides. Readers appreciate this kind of article particularly.
  • Information. Use the newsletter to introduce new people and advertise your new services. Don't just announce new services, sell them – show how they are going to help people.
  • Reports on your activities and successes. Include human interest stories to show how you're making a difference. Make your articles encouraging and inspirational, with pictures. If the story is linked to a particular program or a particular donor, put this in. Recognise the contribution of staff.
  • Report on donations, and thank donors individually, with a photo. This not only pleases the donor but reminds your other readers that you appreciate these things. Use your newsletter to ask for the things you need – if your office equipment is wearing out, for example, ask if someone has an unused fax sitting around.
  • Notices of upcoming events.
  • Contributions from clients, readers and staff about their personal experiences.
  • Messages, including guest editorials.
  • Letters from readers.
  • Book reviews on relevant topics.
  • Advertising. Paid is better – and can help cover the costs of your group's newsletter. If you can't find people who'll pay, advertise your own functions or activities.
  • Subscription information. Include this with every edition, and provide an envelope for donations. Anyone who's reading your newsletter is already interested enough to be a good prospect.
  • Invitation to Feedback. Encourage your readers to give you feedback as to what they think of the newsletter and what they want to see in it next time. (But don't be depressed if they don't – it's very rare to attract written feedback, and most people who like it aren't going to tell you.)



A Word about the Law

Copyright

If you are considering including photocopies of articles, newspaper cuttings, or cartoons, you need to think about copyright.

As a rule of thumb you should always try to get copyright clearance from the author, even if this does involve paying over some money.

Particularly for smaller newsletters or smaller groups - if you wish to include a report or article drawn from another publication, a clear attribution to that publication (for example – this article is drawn from the Diamond Creek Bugle, December 6) can suffice.


Libel

You should be aware of the risks if your newsletter wishes to attack individuals, organisations or the government. It may be libelous and therefore illegal.

If you're exposing government neglect or a private company, check everything very carefully and seek legal advice. Opinion pieces can also be libelous. Check them as well before publishing them.


The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.