The employee newsletter… it’s something almost every corporate communicator has had to contribute to at some point in our careers. To some it seems like a relic of a time long since past. After all, if you have a News section on your intranet, you might see this as the way to deliver the same content without the extra hassle. But newsletters can remain a useful and important part of your engagement strategy. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to make sure yours continues to be a publication your audience looks forward to reading.
Put Some Real Thought Into the Design
One company for which I worked had a very plain, 11×17, newspaper-esque format to its newsletter when I joined the Internal Communications department. Eventually the editor for the publication left the organization, and I took over. One of my first decisions was to move it from the traditional format to a magazine style.
I worked with a designer in the Creative Services area to give it elements that made each edition more special. For one thing, there was always a different full-page designed cover each month. It allowed for our content to become more attractive and give it that feeling of, “Hey… just wait until you see what’s inside!” Feedback from the employees was extremely positive and many remarked that they looked forward to getting the new editions.
Make Campus-Specific Content or Versions
Employees in satellite locations often complain that they feel like the redheaded stepchild, and that the information they receive is geared toward corporate headquarters. One way to make them feel more included is to provide their own version of the company newsletter, or have dedicated sections that highlight news from their specific offices.
If you’re a part of a larger organization, you might want to make as many versions of the newsletter as you have satellite offices or departments. For instance, if you have warehouse locations, you probably don’t have to make a version for each site, but maybe for the Shipping Department. Make those in these offices or departments feel like they are the focus of a concerted engagement effort.
Make It Truly Employee Centric
One great benefit of having a newsletter edition for each site is that you can designate employees at these campuses to be your communication contact – someone responsible for gathering information, and maybe even creating the content for you. You can usually find someone who wants to experience more than just their everyday duties, or someone who’s an aspiring writer and can give you written content.
The best part is that it will be grassroots in nature and provide a genuine employee perspective that speaks to coworkers. It’s a great opportunity to publish news about each site from an insider’s point of view and give recognition to those who have made a significant contribution or achieved an important milestone.
News and updates related to your company are great, but never lose sight of for whom you’re really creating your newsletter. Provide them with content that makes them feel like they’re the focus, not the executives who, to the employees, seem like they want to brag about their accomplishments.
Keep the Branding Consistent
No matter how many versions of your corporate newsletter you have, they should look thematically unified with your organizations brand. Don’t do entirely different designs for each. It can get confusing and doesn’t reflect a united culture.
Have consistent logos, colors, fonts, etc. across all versions of the newsletters. Sometimes employees of a different department or location will go rogue and create their own newsletter, completely different from that of the official edition you publish. From an employee relation standpoint, it’s probably best not to make a big issue of this. But if you come across one of these newsletters, offer the publisher a brand-consistent template for them to use. It’s a better solution than being confrontational, and helps achieve your goal to keep internal communication consistent.
Going digital with traditionally printed vehicles is an extremely pragmatic option in the world of corporate communications. Creating a PDF that employees could print if they wanted makes more sense for today’s younger audience and is a big money saver when the printing expenses are no longer a factor. The environmental factor, an important one for millenials especially, is an ideal justification for not spending the resources it takes to produce a regular printed newsletter.
Now, there are certainly older employees who enjoy having something to hold and read… and if your organization can afford it, there’s certainly a benefit to making this audience happy. But a nostalgic preference for traditional newsletters doesn’t warrant the expense and extra, unnecessary work it incurs.
Add Interactive Elements
One of the best parts about having a digital newsletter is that it’s easier to insert interactive elements, such as links to a specific page of the intranet or company website, a video you want to show, a survey you want the employees to complete, etc. The options available to you in a digital format make your newsletter more dynamic in ways that simply can’t be achieved via print.
Once you get in the habit of adding more interactive content, your creativity can really move into high gear. For instance, let’s say your newsletter includes a Q&A profile of an employee or executive; why not link to a video interview at the end of the article to give the reader bonus content? Digital technology can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Are you in charge of your organization’s employee newsletter? What steps have you taken to ensure that it remains an innovative and relevant resource? Let us know in the Comment section below!
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