In a poll of 23,000 employees, only 37% clearly understood
what their organization was trying to achieve and why. - Stephen Covey

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Issue 14    April, 2014

Sue HornerDear Sue2,
How often should you send an employee or subscriber newsletter? As with many areas of communication, the answer is, “It depends.” This issue of Wordnerdery talks about some things to consider.
Sue's signature

Not too often, not too seldom
but juuuuust right

Woman reading newsletterI once spoke with a colleague whose company published a small print employee newsletter three times a year. They were thinking of dropping the frequency to twice and increasing the size. Cue the warning bells!
If employees were regularly getting all the information they needed online or in person, my colleague could certainly replace three with one, turning it into an employee annual report. But it sounded like employee ‘engagement’ was actually a problem. In that case, once or twice a year just isn’t enough.
Properly answering the “how often?” question takes you back to your strategy and the reason for the publication. Do you want employees to understand what the company is trying to achieve and why? How often do you need to publish to serve your purpose? “Delivering news” must be frequent or it’s out of date. “Providing background and perspective” can be less often. That means:
  • Monthly (my fave) is a nice regular way to provide perspective and share less urgent news, and to encourage a connection to the company. E-newsletter/marketing specialist Michael Katz tells clients to publish their newsletters at least monthly “…because it’s frequent enough to give you a presence in the minds of your readers, but not so much that the effort will overwhelm you.”
  • Quarterly isn’t bad if you complement it with lots of news and regular content elsewhere, such as on the intranet. Employee communications evangelist Steve Crescenzo prefers quarterly, because he finds people don’t have time to turn out a quality monthly publication. (Note: Steve’s own e-newsletter is monthly. Hmmm.)
  • Weekly or even daily updates might work, too, if your company is undergoing major upheaval and has much to communicate.
  • Few purposes would be served by twice a year, unless it was in a special report complemented by more frequent online information.
  • Once a year is fine for an employee annual report or other one-time publication, but don't call it a newsletter.
When in doubt, cut the size or the frills of a publication before you cut the frequency. Strategic communications expert Les Potter, ABC, says this: “A more frequent and cheaper production value publication is always better than a more expensive, less frequent publication.”
And don’t be distracted by people telling you that employees are drowning in information. You know yourself that when you get something of value, you’ll read it no matter how much else is in your in-box. And that’s the other key — make sure the content delivers VALUE. That, of course, is a topic for another day.

What do you think is the ideal frequency for a newsletter? Please hit "reply" to share your thoughts. And let me know if you'd like help meeting the deadline you have set for your newsletter.

Images: Reader by "graur razvan ionut" and Sue by Chris Salvo,

Related links

The original post about "how often," with some discussion in the comments

Fast Company talks about how often to post on social media, also an "it depends" situation

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