Creating A Powerful Company Newsletter

A Guide to Producing a Quality Publication

by April Love-Bailey

Creating a company newsletter that is well-received and well-read is an easy task once you know what's important to your readers. Your passion is what drives your organization. Share your vision with passion, sensitivity and intelligence, and you will draw your audience in. You will make them interested and willing to read about the impact your organization is making in people's lives or in your community.

A powerful newsletter can be a fundraising tool in itself. Share about the needs of your organization, but present it on a human level. Feature one of your clients or write candidly about the struggles of those you serve. Then emphasize what your program does to address the problem(s). In a real sense, you have to toot your own horn. Most visionaries of non-profits or faith-based ministries find that difficult or uncomfortable, but how else will potential funders really know what you do? You are there, experiencing the day-to-day victories and struggles. Who is more qualified to communicate such a vital message? That passion and commitment should be conveyed in your organization's newsletter.

But first, you have some decisions to make about the newsletter itself: Black & white or color? How many pages? How often to print and mail? How will it fold? Hire a designer or produce it in-house (right from your printer)? If you're creating it in-house, which desktop publishing software will you use (i.e., Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXpress, Pagemaker, etc.) and do you have the time and know the program well enough to produce a quality product?

There are also mailing questions: Use envelopes or mail the newsletter out stapled? Note: If you mail out your newsletter without an envelope, using a part of the publication for address labels, you lose space (up to half a page) for your design. Also, without an envelope, you could not safely enclose special flyers, announcements or giving envelopes with your newsletter. These items could be lost in the mail if the staple or tape came loose in shipping.

I can help you answer these questions in two ways. I have put together a Newsletter Starter Kit that will guide you through the process of creating your publication in-house. These items provide information that should help inspire you to create the design that best suits the personality of your organization and allow you to share your vision in print. Also, designing and printing your newsletter in-house is the most inexpensive method of newsletter production, which is a crucial consideration when you 're just starting out or are challenged financially.

The other option is to hire a designer. As a former designer for magazines and two trade publications, I have years of experience designing all types of promotional materials. The look and feel of your newsletter is vitally important; and a picture really does say a thousand words. This is where most newsletters go wrong ... by having tiny, irrelevant images that are blurry or simply too dark to see.

The Color Question: When Starfish Learning Center started in 1997, we printed everything (brochures, newsletters, etc.) in black & white right from our laser printer because that was all we could afford. But even then, we received countless compliments on the appearance and content of Starfish News. As we raised more money, we were able to get a color laser printer (prices have really dropped) and since autumn of 2000, we've been printing our newsletters in stunning, vibrant color!

Color newsletters can definitely make a greater impact, but printing in black & white doesn't mean your publication has to lack creativity. Within the spectrum from black to white are numerous shades of gray. Shades, blends and shadows can be used effectively and dramatically in black & white printing. Either way, you can have a great looking newsletter that helps your organization get noticed!

Get started today. Contact me online for more information at mapes711@hotmail.com (type "newsletter info." in the subject box).

About the Author

April Love-Bailey is co-founder of Starfish Learning Center, a non-profit youth center in Chicago's inner city. Her organization's newsletter, Starfish News, has received compliments and praise since its inception in 1997. Visit her center's website at www.starfishchicago.com.


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