Quick tweaks for consistent newsletters

20th May 2016 | Posted in Marketing communications

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Congratulations! You’ve encouraged and beguiled enough people around your company to gather enough content for a newsletter. Now all you have to do is drop it into a template and you’re done.

Uh oh! And that’s when you notice that while you thought you were encouraging variety, what you’ve actually got is a bit of a confused mishmash of style, tone, content, length and – to be quite honest – value.

So where do you start to bring it all together into one voice?

First go back to your brand guidelines if your business has some. These will tell you how your business talks to its customers and its employees.

If you haven’t got brand guidelines, you really could benefit from creating some. Your branding isn’t just about your logo or the font on your letterhead. It’s how you consistently express who you are in every communication.

Now take a look at these areas:

  1. Articles too long? Check that the length and place of the articles relates to their value. That’s the value to the audience more than the value to the authors. Cut where you can. If you have the confidence to edit out waffle, do that too. If you’re editing someone else’s work, it’s diplomatic at the least and possibly essential to run the changes past them and get their buy in.
  2. Speak in one voice. Ensure there’s consistency in how you refer to your business. Do you say “we” to encompass everyone in the business or do you talk about the company as an entity in itself, using the name and “it” or “they”. If it’s an internal newsletter “we” tends to work best.
  3. Get the look. Have some articles arrived with 3 levels of headings and subheadings and others with just a massive title? Work on bringing them into line so they look like parts of a whole rather a bunch of individually authored pieces.
  4. Go for easy access. Do the same with paragraph length. You may not want to meddle too much with contributors’ sentences but you can make content easier to read and look more consistent by breaking it up into easy paragraphs wherever it works.
  5. Get pernickety. Is there consistent and correct spelling, grammar and punctuation? Again you may be able to refer to decisions already made and publishing in your branding guidelines. If not, look at points like these and go for consistency:
  • style of bullet points. Are they dashes, blobs or numbers? Do they all start with capital letters and end with a comma, a semi-colon or nothing at all?
  • US or UK spelling? Some are obvious and some not quite so much. For example people often don’t notice they’re using a mix of –ise and –ize in words like minimise and maximize.
  • capital letters on job titles – yes or no? Managing Director or managing director?
  • which products and services deserve a few capital letters too?

Those five actions will get your newsletter into better shape to be laid before customers, staff or partners. For the long term plan ahead by creating guidelines that everyone can follow.

The sell

Even better, invite a professional to help plan, create and edit your newsletters. They’ll be able to interview people who are too busy or nervous to write, helping you to deliver even more value to your audience. And they’ll make sure they have the time to publish on time on a regular basis – which can be tough if you’re running a newsletter as well as the day job.

 

If you’re setting up internal communications or a customer newsletter, best wishes to you! And if you’d like some help, from editing the various contributions right up to planning the programme, interviewing experts and writing the articles, do get in touch. Contact me on [email protected] and we can have a chat about how we can work together.

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