An organization is as good as the sum of its parts – and those parts need to be communicating! When leaders, departments, or teams don’t share information regularly about their goals, priorities, and processes it can contribute to an insulated or siloed way of thinking, which can be detrimental to employee morale, productivity, and the bottom line. It’s up to leaders and managers to find effective ways to communicate and collaborate across silos to ensure everyone is working efficiently together and moving the company in the same direction. Effective organizational communication allows cross-functional leaders to see things from another department’s point of view, broaden their perspective, and be more agile about aligning or re-aligning on higher level business priorities.
One way to break the organizational silos barrier is sharing critical information through weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletters. Even with the sheer volume of emails most employees receive daily, it remains one of the most efficient and effective channels to reach a broad audience. You may consider other options, however, such as global all-hands or internal social platforms to get your message across. But if you do decide an email newsletter is the way to go, there are several strategic approaches you can take to make sure it actually gets read.
Your newsletter should be brief yet thoughtfully crafted. An effective newsletter is informative, easy to read, and focused on what your audience needs to know. If your first newsletter is all about the great work your team is doing, no one will read your second. Have a purpose, get to the point, and be helpful. Whether you’re creating a formal or informal newsletter, here are some standard guidelines any organization can use to get started.
Often, when it comes time to decide what content needs to be shared in a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter, we want to tout all our hard work and good news to anyone willing to listen. But if you want people to read your newsletter, set limits. Stick to the highlights of what your audience really needs to know – what will help them stay informed, do their job more effectively, or improve cross-functional communication. Appoint an editorial team or content committee who can help prioritize what gets included. When you have your editorial parameters in writing, it’s also easier to let others know why their content didn’t make the cut (e.g. it doesn’t fit your editorial/communication goals).
The key to readability in a newsletter is to make it scannable. Not every person needs to read every word of your newsletter. Make it easy for your audience to scan with catchy headlines and subheads. Help them get the gist of the content and read what’s most relevant and interesting to them. (Hint: A good standard is size 18 pt font or larger for headlines, 10-12 pt font for body text.) Use punchy language, short paragraphs, and bullet points to break up the text. Images and visuals are engaging but less is more. Avoid over-cluttering the page and leave room for white space. When using images, try not to use large group shots; aim for images with 5 people or less so that everyone can be seen clearly. Whatever format you decide, keep it consistent so as readers become more familiar with your newsletter it will be easier to absorb it at-a-glance.
Hyperlink action words to key content you’re sharing or need people to access, such as “read our new policy”, “download the form”, “sign up now”, or “contact us” so they quickly know how to take action.” Use “Read More” buttons to truncate lengthy articles. This makes your newsletter scannable and, assuming your email programs allow you to track clicks, enables you to determine the most popular content and track keywords to ensure you are providing readers with the content they need and want.
There is research that pinpoints ideal days of the week to send out email campaigns and newsletters. In the end, think about your audience and what will work best in your organization. Our recommendation is to send newsletters on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between 8am and 2pm, as those are optimal days/times for maximum viewing. Remember to consider your global audience and avoid sending out significant communication around major global holidays. Whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, keep your timing and cadence consistent and predictable.
To continually improve content and readership, invite your audience to provide feedback. You can do this by adding a simple link to a short survey at the bottom of every email. Invite them to share thoughts on what they’d like to hear more about from your group or business unit, or what would be most helpful for them to know as it relates to their role. Be sure to thank each person for their feedback. When you respond accordingly with updates to your content, your audience will feel valued and appreciated for being heard.
While there are many specific tactics to keep in mind when writing an effective newsletter, it’s important not to forget the big picture. Focus on the primary purpose of the newsletter and measure all content against your editorial goals to maintain the purpose clearly. Take the time to be thoughtful and strategic in your ongoing communication efforts — you’ll maximize readership and keep everyone up to date on business critical information.