Newsletters are a mainstay of most organizational communication mixes – be it in electronic form or in print. However, keeping the newsletter fresh, consistent and relevant is tough work and often internal communicators grapple with dwindling readership and low engagement.
If your organization has an employee newsletter that is losing steam here are some tips to get it back on track.
Step back to move forward: Sometimes, stepping back to understand what is causing the drop in readership or contributions will allow you to take suitable measures that matter. For example, if your employee demographics have changed you still can’t continue using printed magazines and long copy formats. In today’s face paced world attention spans have dramatically reduced. If your organization has a healthy mix of millennials and other work groups you need to balance content and interest levels. Make the newsletter accessible – at the employee spaces, noticeboards, on the mobile, via the internet for those travelling or at client sites for example. Maybe, it is time to make the newsletter a forum for idea-generation and showcasing innovations from within.
Stick to the basics: Figure out why you started the newsletter in the first place and if those fundamental reasons have changed. My guess is that most newsletters serve as a source for information; help employees stay connected and allows the organization to build culture and community. Make it count for employees by addressing their most pressing concerns. If they can discover experts or find a way to solve a tough work issue it will encourage them to continue looking forward to more editions. Givethem tips, insights, tools and resources that they can’t get elsewhere. Share information that they can use to improve their lives and those around them.
Promote the brand: View your newsletter like a brand which needs to be nourished. Never tamper with the masthead or elements that make your newsletter stand apart or register in employees’ minds. Keep the layout clean and consistent. Stick to timelines – very crucial if you want to build credibility as a brand. Be inclusive in your approach – seek feedback, acknowledge if readers aren’t getting what they need and address their wants quickly. Sometimes, your best advocates are often sitting elsewhere – if you are in a region, getting your global counterparts to review the edition with help immensely. Or, if leaders in your organization’s headquarters can share a message or two it can elevate the brand appeal a bit more. Your employees’ families can be a great audience to reach out. Most love to see their child’s sketches get printed or posted on a company magazine. Getting every edition to be a collector’s item must be your brand’s goal.
Watch for perception killers: Perceptions can hamper your newsletter’s ability to reconnect with employees. For example, if there is a perception that the newsletter is too long or disengaging you need to verify why and how employees think that way. Is it a general feeling across the company or a one-off perception?Keep your audience research handy and your readership analytics ready to defend such perceptions. Nip such concerns in the bud right when they begin surfacing to avoid the long and arduous route of redemption.
Make it social: The internal communicator isn’t the custodian of the newsletter. Every employee in the organization is a shared owner. If you approach your audience with this mindset the chances are that the newsletter will be better received. You can make it happen in multiple ways – create a coalition of internal consultants who will help create and curate content from within. They can serve as your editorial council, your sounding board and your advocates in their respective work units. Personalize your newsletter where you can have the key company content in one section while the rest can be ‘plugged and played’ by the other work teams based on their own content. You will need to spend time to bring in quality control and checks through training – an investment that is sure to be rewarding to them and also for you in the long run.
Demonstrate value: You may not be asked for an ROI for your newsletter but you can help stakeholders and employees stay abreast of the ‘softer’ impact it creates. One of the key measures of success is employee engagement. Think of how your newsletter helps move the needle on that measure. You can also create a simple business benefit meter. By adding time and effort that your team puts in, including agency cost if that is the model you operate with, time that your editorial council invests and the ideas that get generated. Map it against the engagement, reach and connection the newsletter achieves and you can convince even the most stubborn skeptics to convert.
Have other ideas to make your employee newsletter come alive? Keen to hear from you.