“People still love email newsletters…If I were a full-time communicator at a company right now,
I would be all over this idea [new Washington Post weekly newsletter]
.” – Shel Holtz
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Issue 47   January, 2017

7 ways to sabotage your employee e-newsletter

Dear <<First Name>>,
Done properly, a company’s employee newsletter can deliver information employees need when they need it. Sent by email, it can reduce email volume by collecting content that otherwise would be sent separately. An e-newsletter can easily link to relevant spots in your intranet to encourage online visits.
Don't sabotage your e-newsletter
Done improperly? There are at least seven ways companies undermine their efforts with e-newsletters, many of which apply to print as well:
1.  Being boring
Start on the right foot with a unique subject line highlighting something of value in the content. Please, stay away from a boring mention of the date, as in “January newsletter.” Be sure to continue with engaging and useful content written in a warm, friendly style.
2.  Ignoring multimedia
Look for photos, infographics, video, audio, charts and other ways to bring information and stories to life. Link to existing content on the intranet.
3.  Ignoring mobile
Three out of four Canadians own a smartphone. Pew Research Center says more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans own a smartphone, and some 88% of smartphone owners use email on their phones. Expect that many employees will open your e-newsletter on a smartphone or tablet, and make sure the content is readable and attractive no matter where it’s opened.
4.  Not publishing often enough
Publishing once a year just isn’t enough, unless it’s an employee annual report that complements other frequent sources of information. Quarterly is better, as long as you support it with more timely news in other ways. Monthly is a nice regular way to provide perspective and encourage connection to the company. If pressed, make your newsletter shorter or less elaborate rather than cutting the frequency.
5.  Publishing too often
A weekly or even daily publication might be appropriate if you’re delivering critical news or staying on top of major change, like a merger or takeover. Just don’t bombard employees with too many messages that have little value. You’ll simply train people to ignore your emails.
6. Forgetting to provide value
Always keep in mind, what’s in it for the reader? Offer useful information, helpful content and practical advice. Make connections between different divisions or countries. Show how employee efforts support business goals. Be concise, and point employees to places on the intranet where they can find additional information and resources they need. Encourage feedback and conversation.
7. Assuming your newsletter covers all the bases
A newsletter is just one way of reaching employees. What other channels are available to which employees? How can you best reach them, especially ones who don’t work at a desk? Be sure you’re also supporting face-to-face communication, exploring social media and collaboration apps, making effective use of your intranet, using polls and other feedback channels, podcasting, sending text messages, and so on.
Of course we all get too much email; the key is to make sure your e-newsletter provides something of value. Look at your own inbox. Aren’t there certain newsletters or messages you’ll read no matter how much else is in there?
What ways have you found to make your employee e-newsletter something worth reading? What other ways do companies unwittingly sabotage their efforts? Please hit “reply” and comment. 

Freelance writer Sue HornerMay I help you?
Many of my clients are overworked corporate communicators who appreciate a writer who provides clear, friendly and readable copy. I simplify the complex, uncover “what’s in it for me?” and find the human angle in just about any story. Contact me and let’s chat about how I can take some pressure off your day.

This article was originally published as a guest post on, along with the image he created. Sue's photo: Rob Jeanveau of IABC/Golden Horseshoe.


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