1. Choose an inspiring and punchy heading/subject line
A heading which grabs people’s attention will make people want to read more. Instead of a heading like ‘April newsletter’, think about your big news. Maybe you have a solution to a problem, a unique opportunity or a call to action.
2. Keep it short and to the point
Avoid the temptation to tell people lots about everything. Newsletters are for your highlights or most important news.
3. ‘Frontload the content’ of your newsletter
Most readers will read some but not all of your newsletter. They are likely to read the start and then skim for what they are interested in. Put important ‘must read’ items first or where they will be noticed, and make sure the key points are in the first few lines so people don’t miss them.
4. Use plain English
Plain English is something the intended audience can read, understand and act upon the first time they read it. Avoid using jargon and write in short, clear sentences. For more information read our how to guide.
5. Bring stories to life with photos
Pictures are a great way of getting people’s attention and bringing a story to life. Make sure you get permission from the photographer, and credit them where appropriate.
Check that the people in the photo know it was being taken and that, where appropriate, they have given their consent.
For example, when taking photos at a Big Local meeting, the photographer should ask if anyone minds their photo being taken and explain how it will be used. If photographing children or vulnerable adults, the photographer must get the consent of the parent or guardian or carer.
6. Share the work
One or two people may be responsible for putting the newsletter together, but many different people can write the stories. Other duties include doing the layout, adding photos, managing any printing, putting together the mailing list or agreeing distribution, and delivering the newsletter.
7. Ask different people to contribute
Ask people if they would write a short piece about an event/activity/meeting they have attended (it might be helpful to give them some questions as a framework). People are more likely to contribute if you ask them personally. Remember to say thank you, and give them positive feedback about their contribution – they’ll be more likely to be involved again in the future.
8. Check for accuracy
Ask someone other than the person who wrote the article to check that it's accurate and sending out the right messages. When it’s ready, print it out and get somebody with a keen eye for detail to check it for spelling, grammar and mistakes. Often the person who put it together won’t spot these.
9. Provide information for events/activities
The more people know about the event, the more likely they are to attend. For example, if the event is a fun day, say what the activities or entertainment will be. If it is a learning workshop, say what the topic is and what people will get out of the day. Tell people if there will be live music, free activities for children, food and drink, and any other attractions.
10. Set deadlines
Decide when you want to send out your newsletter and work backwards to identify a timeline. Think about how long it will take to complete the different tasks involved. If you are working with a printer, check how long they need and what their deadlines are.
11. Give options to get in touch, find online or unsubscribe
Once your reader has read your newsletter they should be able to take action! If you’re asking people to get involved, make it easy for them to call or email you, or know where to go to find out more. If it’s an e-newsletter, they should be able to share it with others - add an option for people to link to Facebook/Twitter, or for new users to subscribe. Importantly, you'll also need to allow people to remove themselves from your distribution list. So every newsletter needs an unsubscribe option.