Newsletters – Regular, Relational, Readable & Right

Newsletters are an important communications vehicle for communities, but they can be difficult for many neighborhood associations to produce consistently. Newsletters take time and effort. When done correctly, however, they can be a wonderful way to keep residents informed and to build a stronger sense of community. Here are some tips on how to create and use newsletters to their fullest potential. To be effective newsletters must accomplish the 4 “R’s” – Regular, Relational, Readable & Right.

Regular

Many communities begin with an overly ambitious newsletter schedule that requires more resources than originally estimated.  Sporadic publication is certain to result when you bit off more than you can chew.  You can avoid this by limiting the number of pages at first. A four-page newsletter every other month or every quarter is more effective than a 10 page newsletter that appears irregularly. 

Clearly define and communicate your newsletter deadlines to all contributors.  Make sure contributors understand how meeting – or missing- their deadlines impacts the entire process.  Deadlines are a necessary and beneficial component of newsletters.

Relational
Effective newsletters draw in their readers by personalizing their content.  People love seeing their names in print.  Creating something that draws readers in will make them read that section first and look forward to receiving your newsletter.

Use your newsletter to report on new policies and programs.  Rather than just describing the dry details of a new policy, explain how these changes benefit residents.  Keep the town positive.

Readable

To ensure readability, be conservative in your newsletter design.  Here are some important design rules to consider:

  • Use three or fewer fonts, or typestyles
  • Use no more than one or two photos or images on each page
  • Use frames and boxes sparingly.
  • Use contrast between headlines and text and other elements making them easier to read
  • Make headlines short as possible.
  • Use white space to make headlines standout.  White space is a magnet to readers’ eyes.
  • Avoid the temptation to use boldface or italics too often.

Right

Clear writing and accurate information are obviously key to any good newsletter.  Typos are distractions to readers.  Incorrect grammar and spelling errors can damage the association’s credibility and reduce the impact of your message.  Make sure your newsletter is proofread by appropriate volunteers before it is distributed. 

Another benefit of strong proofreading is ensuring that you are sending the right message to residents, not only in content but also in tone.

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