Total Articles : 80 - TimeStamp : 19 2018f June 2018   


E-Newsletters: Tailoring the Design to Fit Your Needs

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A few years ago, when I was president of a state organization, I designed our first e-newsletter. A professional writer with a graduate degree in art, I was the logical choice for the job. Two questions were paramount in my mind: How will the content differ from our printed newsletter? What are the recurring columns?

Talking with members helped me to answer these questions. Our printed newsletter would be external communication -- something we could give to prospective members and the press. Our e-newsletter would be internal communication for members. Since we are an affiliate organization I patterned our e-newsletter after the parent organization's e-newsletter. This was a mistake.

From the get go our e-newsletter was too long. As the presidents changed the design of the e-newsletter gradually changed. The writing style kept changing because we had no editorial guidelines. We are in the process of revamping our e-newsletter and, as Communications Chair, I have been doing some research.

1. E-newsletters are the way to go. According to, electronic newsletters are "here to stay." We may as well take advantage of this trend.

2. E-newsletters drive traffic to Web sites. This, again, from Heartland Technology solutions. E-newsletters are another element of the marketing mix, a way to stay in touch with members and clients.

3. E-newsletters are fast. Chad Barr, President of CB Software Systems Incorporated, describes the efficiency of e-newsletters as "speed to market." Once you have a new product or, in the case of an organization, hot news, "you are able to immediately announce it."

4. E-newsletters save money. Layout and paper costs are going up. You may have to pay someone to send your e-newsletter to a database, but it is still cheaper than printing newsletters. Plus, you can zap e-newsletters to prospective members and/or clients.

5. E-newsletters generate excitement. I thought this was an interesting point from Part of this excitement comes from the immediacy of electronic newsletters and colored photos.

How will our e-newslettter change?

It will be shorter, for one thing. We will publicize our revamped newsletter in our printed newsletter, spotlighting the features of the new design. I think we will do a better job of creating columns that meet our members' needs.

Though I am not certain, I think the columns will be Member News (personal stuff), Helpful Info (Web site links), News Flash (news that needs immediate action) and Real Deals (free lunches, bulk rate discounts, prizes). Members may suggest other columns as well.

A photo is worth a thousand words and we will publish action photos to go with the recurring columns. Colored headings will flag the columns and, hopefully, keep people reading. All of these ideas must pass board review and, while I can't guarantee these changes, I think most people will agree with them. Just as people change with the times, e-newsletters must change with the times. We're ready!

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find another review on the American Hospice Foundation Web site under the "School Corner" heading.

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