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Are Newsletters and Blogs Dead?

With the rise of social media, many have argued that newsletters and blogs are dead. They say that social media is more prolific, more immediate and more engaging. It is all that and more. It is also extremely cluttered, and its format is somewhat limiting—especially for organizations that don’t have a budget for video or other forms of longer story telling in social media.

For many nonprofit and for-profit business, blogs and newsletters provide more in-depth opportunities to share your news and demonstrate your expertise. A blog gives you a regular online spot for posting news that should then be shared through your social media and with regular readers, if you develop a following.

An e-newsletter provides an opportunity to reach current donors or customers or future donors and customers through their email. While the use of social media is growing, most business people still rely heavily on email. The problem with both forms of communication is that social media and email inboxes are often flooded with information, so your communications can be easily overlooked.

To ensure that your blog or newsletter is read—rather than dead on arrival—Patricia Williams, in her book, “Creating and Producing the Perfect Newsletters,” emphasized the importance of identifying your audience. She asked, “Who are your readers? Identify each group of readers that you want to reach with your newsletter. . . . you need an accurate profile of your readers, which will help you zero in on content and on the image your newsletter should project for your organization.”

Creating content that will appeal to that audience will help ensure your communications rise above the clutter. (See more on this in a previous post we wrote.) Also using a compelling subject line for a newsletter or a compelling headline and social media content for a blog will help increase engagement. While you want to share your good news about recent accomplishments, consider what might be of value to the reader and share that first. Focusing on helpful and meaningful information first will engage your audience and give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise. Then you can share your own good news.

For instance, we recently developed an e-newsletter for a law firm that was aimed at reaching those in corporate law who might need their services. It featured five common-sense rules corporate leaders and lawyers should follow when facing a federal investigation. It was written by a former top official in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, so the expertise was clear. The subject line was: What do you do when the Feds knock on your door? We also sent it at a time when it was most likely to be opened, Tuesday, mid-morning. While other e-newsletters of this type, on average, score an 18% open rate, according to Constant Contact, this first e-newsletter more than doubled the average with 36% of all recipients opening it.

Communicating expertise can also be accomplished by writing for others’ blogs, as we have done for blogs in the public relations field and, as ghost writers, for corporate executives and nonprofit leaders for blogs in their fields and op-ed pages in mainstream newspapers.To ensure your target audiences see these, be sure to share them on social media or in your other outlets.

Newsletters and blogs can also be beneficial in building loyalty within your company—especially in large companies where employees often don’t know that much about what others in the organization are doing. Internal newsletters and blogs help build camaraderie and loyalty among the workforce, as well as encourage the sharing of information across disciplines, which can lead to better outcomes. Such forms of employee communications should be composed of mostly original content to make them worthwhile. Sharing what you have on your website—as you may do in an e-newsletter or on social media—will diminish interest because your employees most likely are aware of what is on the website and social media.

We recently worked with one of our clients to develop such a newsletter that consisted of all new information for the internal audience. You can see it here:

Whether you choose blogs, e-newsletters or printed newsletters, creating content that is timely and of value to your readers will help ensure they read it and remember it. And sharing it on social media will amplify its reach.

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