Do you have an internal company newsletter? Does your content come from within the organization’s walls? Do you have a team of writers among your staff who submit the articles and photos?
Without question, an internal newsletter is a good idea for a lot of reasons. This kind of company news boosts morale among employees; it’s an opportunity to introduce new products and services; and it’s an excellent forum to highlight company culture. You want your employees to feel connected and informed, and a newsletter is perfect for engagement.
But what usually starts out as an exciting venture can wind up being a thorn to people who already have a lot on their plate.
How can you build or maintain enthusiasm for your company newsletter? Is there a way for content to be less daunting? And how can you engage readers?
1. Use original content
This cannot be overstated. The content you use should come from your company only. Whether you use employees to write the material or you outsource a writer, the content has to be about you, for you, and from you.
You can buy content, such as from an online company. However, so can everyone else. Which means that content you buy has been used in other newsletters. Instead, you want the content to be personal and apply specifically to your company.
When employees write articles, they add to their résumé. They share their knowledge and expertise with fellow employees. They accomplish something they can feel good about.
Stay away from content on other sites. Content online is copyrighted and you’ll be faced with a lawsuit for plagiarism. Copying paragraphs and claiming as your own is stealing. Some think they can read an article online and rewrite it as if it’s their own. They can’t. To be original, you have to start fresh. It’s okay to use other websites as resources or to research statistics, but that’s all they should be used for.
Research multiple sources, understand the subject matter, interview your own people, write your own stuff.
2. Feature employees and management
Don’t allow the initial groans to fool you – employees love to see their photos in the newsletter. They can share it with their family and friends and have their “cool factor” moment for a little while. Kids get a kick out of seeing their parents and other family members featured in the company newsletter.
That “cool factor” is important for morale. Do you have an employee participating in a worthy cause? Feature him in an article. Did an employee extend herself in one of the company values? Share that with others and explain how that benefits the company. Make positive personal stories public whenever it’s fitting. It’s another way for team members to get to know one another and what they do outside of the company walls.
Feature management in every issue if you can. Not just local management, but corporate management. Why? Because it humanizes them. They are authority figures, but people need to trust them and be at ease with them. When they visit your facility, then the employees, in a sense, already know them and the atmosphere is more relaxed. What is management doing to be a team player? How do their roles contribute to the goals of the company? Employees need to understand their leaders’ roles so they have a better sense of how they can assist on an individual level.
3. Introduce new products and services
Companies always seek to do things better, which includes improving their products and services. Do your employees know all the products and services your company offers? If they don’t, how will they have a sense of where they fit into your goals if they don’t know what they stand for?
People need constant reminders. Highlight your products, but don’t focus solely on what they are – show how others benefit from what you provide. Help your employees become excited about what they’re doing by being enthusiastic about your products.
Share the “before” about your products and then share the current modifications. Highlight the importance of these advancements and again, why they’re beneficial.
When your employees know what you, as a company, really do and provide – and they’re excited about it – that enthusiasm bubbles over outside the company walls. But more importantly, it bubbles inside the walls and motivates everyone to work harder to achieve something great.
4. Educate the team on policies
This is an area that is often lacking in business and too important to ignore. When employees are first hired, they’re usually given a policy handbook. They participate in training and orientation. Perhaps they take a test and are fluent in their responses. But over time, the policies of the company are pushed to the wayside if they’re not discussed on a frequent basis. And policies change – new ones are added, others are modified. State and federal laws change, so certain policies are affected by those changes.
A newsletter is an excellent opportunity to remind employees about policies. But don’t use the newsletter as a means to reprint the handbook. Choose a policy to highlight. Perhaps use an employee experience to show how a particular policy was enforced (if relevant and not sensitive). Policies are serious since breaking them could cost someone his job. However, if applicable, you could emphasize how well employees are following the guidelines of a certain policy.
If you realize a certain policy is not being enforced and could become a problem, don’t skirt the issue. Remind employees why the policy is in place and how it benefits them. Remain positive and give commendation whenever possible.
5. Keep articles short
The average attention span of an adult is roughly eight seconds. The amount of material you use, including the amount of pages, depends on how often you’re publishing your newsletter. Yet, you still want the articles to be brief. Employees will read the newsletter when they sit down for their lunch break or have a few minutes while waiting for their next conference call. They don’t have time to absorb a novel. Most skim through the material, so by keeping it short, you’re allowing employees to absorb more.
They’ll also read more pieces. When we look at an article that fits an entire page, psychologically it’s daunting. We think, “I don’t have time to read this. I have to jump on the phone in 10 minutes.” But articles that are a couple of paragraphs, sure – that’s more reasonable. You can read that in one minute. Which means you can read the next article and so on.
If the article is lengthy, provide a link that employees can click to read more if they want. The advantage to clickable material is that you are able to track your readers’ interests and incorporate that into planning future articles. Another option is to print the article in a series.
6. Use lots of photos
Use photos or graphics with each article if feasible. Try to avoid canned photos as much as possible. They have their place, but if the articles are truly about your company, you should use company photos. Use photos of employees in their work environment. Take photos of employees in other settings related to the piece. For example, if you’re doing an article on your company’s support of a non-profit organization, take photos of employees helping others.
Photos also help to fill space. When you keep your articles brief, you allow room for that complementary photo. It makes a small article look grand!
7. Focus on culture and values
Successful companies (those who have excellent employee and customer retention), recognize the need to focus on their company’s culture and its values. They live the culture, even outside the company walls. And they help their employees do the same.
Your newsletter should remind employees of your culture – why you do what you do. And you can showcase employees who are living those values. Case studies and testimonials are great for this. What are employees doing to live and follow the culture?
The more employees are reminded of the company’s culture, the more they’ll appreciate their role in the company and who they work for. If you hired employees who fit into your company culture (which makes a lot of sense!), continue to talk about the values and what your company represents.
If you do a company newsletter, you’re going to want this article questionnaire template for your writers. It’s FREE and user-friendly: Simplify the newsletter process – Article questionnaire template.
Want more? Download my FREE, one-page tip sheet: 5 Tips for Your Company Newsletter.
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