How to Start a Newsletter

What is it? It is a publication usually between two to twelve pages in length. It is issued weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, or whenever necessary to serve the vital needs of the commercial or nonprofit group publishing. It may have fewer than one hundred readers or as many as fifty thousand.

Why start it? A newsletter can serve one or several purposes (list not exhaustive): informing, promoting, guiding, or coordinating.

  • Informing
    • News about the publishing group
    • Brief progress reports of special committees
    • Notes on meetings before and after they occur
    • Description of the year’s program
    • Statements of administrative or executive policies
    • Reports of conferences and workshops
    • Information on new services
    • Legislation
    • Appointments
    • Running record of publishing group’s accomplishments, current concerns and future plans
  • Promoting
    • Membership
    • Attendance at meetings
    • Support for legislation
    • Good human relations
    • Ideas
    • The work of the group at all levels
    • Interest in related fields
  • Guiding (for specialized purposes)
    • Guidance for specific projects to keep those involved informed and active
  • Coordinating
    • Brings cooperation and understanding
    • Brings people closer together for concerted action

Questions for the Planning: Decisions must be made before the actual writing begins. It is recommended that the following questions be completely answered:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What are the objectives to be met by the newsletter?
  • What will the content consist of (elements/components)?
  • How frequent will the newsletter be published?
  • What is the timeline for each edition?
  • What is the budget?
  • What kind of staff is necessary and available for this project?
    • Possible roles in print production (Adler, 1993, 44): project director, marketing director, concept developers, content experts, writer, typist or wood processor, editor, art director, designer, desktop publisher, illustrator, photographer, production manager, typesetter, proofreader, paste-up person, printer, consultants, gopher, approvers and funders.
  • What will the appearance, design and layout be?
  • How will it be produced? What computer programs will be used to produce it?
  • Who will print the newsletter? At what cost?
  • How many will be produced?
  • How will they be distributed?

Steps in producing (Adler, 1993)

  • Simple pieces rquire three steps: writing, design and printing
  • Complex pieces:
    • Concept development
    • Market research
    • Content research
    • Writing
    • Copy approval and corrections
    • Editing
    • Proofreading
    • Design
    • Illustration and photography
    • Pre-testing/Market Test/Formative Evaluation
    • Design approval and correction
    • Typesetting or desktop publishing
    • Proofreading
    • Paste-up and checking
    • Printing
    • Distribution
    • Evaluation

References

  • Adler, Elizabeth W. (1993). Everyone’s guide to successful publications: How to produce powerful brochures, newsletters, flyers and business communications, start to finish. Berkeley, California: Peachpit Press.
  • Burke, Virginia M. (1958) Newsletter writing and publishing. Columbia, New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • Hushelpeck, Margaret B. (1979) Putting an employee newsletter together. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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