In May we were invited by CharityComms to speak to the North West Networking Group about our work with organisations on the design and content of newsletters. It was great to see so many people engaged on the afternoon and thanks must go to Charity Comms for their organisation and to Creative Concern for hosting. So, newsletter design – digital or printed?

Sharing the floor with two charities, Mines Action Group and Nugent we explored different ways in which newsletters help build loyalty and stay in touch with audiences.

A key issue covered was the relevance of printed newsletters in the digital age and how print can compete with fast, informal and inexpensive digital communication. There was broad agreement that a printed newsletter remains an important communication and marketing channel, as a tangible reminder of an organisation, and is more likely to attract meaningful attention over a longer period of time. Despite the impact of electronic communications on print, people still value the sensory experience, and print is the preferred medium for many readers.

We worked through a quick checklist of questions you should ask yourself if you are putting together a newsletter:

Who’s going to read the newsletter?

Who is your audience? Customers, service users, funders, members or the general public? A narrow audience makes it easier to decide on your content, but for a wider readership you’ll need to ensure that there’s something in it for everyone.

What format should the newsletter take?

Now you know your audience, ask them how they would like to hear from you. Remember that although a printed newsletter is likely to be the more costly option, research shows that print offers a greater return on investment, if for instance you are fundraising or promoting an event or opportunity.

Digital newsletters are a cheaper way to communicate quickly and informally with your audience. They have a direct impact on website traffic and can be managed in-house. But remember: they will be competing with a vast amount of digital content out there.

What about the content of your newsletter?

Make sure it’s appropriate for the format. A digital newsletter should feature a few shorter articles, directing readers to your website for further reading. A printed newsletter, with a mix of articles, photos and illustrations, offers much greater scope for analysis and insight.

How often should it be published?

There are a number of factors that will determine your publishing schedule, not least of which will be the resources available to you. A digital newsletter may take a day to write and send out, a printed newsletter may take a couple of month to pull together.

How long should it be?

If you’ve answered questions 1 -4 then you should have a good idea of the length of your newsletter.

Do I have the skills and resources to do this in-house?

Who will contact contributors and collate submissions? Research, write, edit and proofread the content? Who will design, illustrate and lay out the magazine? What about photography and print?

These are just a few of the skills that you’ll need if you want to put together a newsletter that really shines, and that’s not mentioning administration and project management. You may want to commission someone to take on some or all of these tasks.

How much will it cost?

Decide on your budget and look at which skills need to be bought in, for instance writing, photography, design, print and fulfilment.

How long will it take?
Often longer than you think – remember to set clear deadlines for everyone involved in putting the newsletter together.

Now you’ve answered all these questions you should have a far clearer understanding of how to pull together a newsletter that will be a clear voice for your organisation. Good luck!

Whether you’re looking to put together a simple electronic newsletter or multi-page magazine why not give us a call on 0161 386 2106 to find out more about our design and content writing services, or drop us an email.