Newsletters are valuable communication tools for employers, faith-based and community organizations, nonprofit associations, and social groups. An interesting, attractive and informative newsletter will be widely read rather than filed away or discarded.
Research. Gather newsletters from other organizations. Decide what you like and dislike about each publication. Ask other individuals in your group or organization for input.
Develop a plan for the newsletter—that is, the “who, what, when, where and how” of the publication: • WHO will write it, WHO will read it, WHO will distribute it? • WHAT are the publication’s goals? • WHEN will it be published? • WHERE will it be distributed? • HOW will it be produced and printed?
Develop an annual budget for the newsletter including overhead such as paper, photography, printing, distribution and delivery costs. Work within your budget.
Create a “masthead” for the newsletter. A masthead is the identifying banner that flows across the top of the publication’s first page. It usually includes the name of the newsletter, volume and issue number (for archiving purposes), and publication date.
Design a format and style guide for the publication considering the following: • Number of pages • Number of columns in a page • Printing specifications: Is it color or black and white? • Page assembly: Is it a folded tabloid or single, stapled sheets? • Type fonts and point sizes for headlines and text • Specifications for photography Option: Many word processing programs offer predesigned newsletter templates that can be used “as is” or customized. Check the software company’s website for downloadable designs.
Identify skilled writers inside and outside of the organization as contributing columnists for your newsletter. Work with each writer to develop an “angle,” or perspective, for her column.
Create submission deadlines and communicate them to your writers. Build in enough time for rewrites.
As articles and photographs are submitted, begin thinking about the “flow” of the publication. Insert them into the template and play around with the layout to get the most impact.
Insist on quality. Reject items that are inferior, but give direction and constructive criticism.
Be sure to proofread IN ADDITION TO spell-checking the entire newsletter. Don't rely on computer word processing programs to do these things for you.
Purchase copies of the Associated Press Stylebook, Roget’s Thesaurus and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for reference.
If using an outside printer to produce the newsletter, consult with him at the earliest stages of development.
Double-check names and spellings of anyone shown in a photograph. Confirm job titles.
Insist on proper citations to give credit where credit is due.
Don’t put all of the “good stuff” on the front page of the newsletter. Distribute the best articles and photographs throughout the publication.