Your School’s Newsletter: Is It Informational or Considered Junk Mail?

Vol. 15 No. 5

advancement eletter Vol15 No5 junkmail

Regardless of whether your school sends out an electronic or printed newsletter, if it’s not perceived as informational and relevant, it may be seen as just another piece of junk mail. And if your families, faculty, and staff aren’t reading it, then they’re missing what you’re trying to share with them.

But, you want them to read it. Chances are, you’ve spent a good amount of time creating it. The last thing you want them to do is toss it in a junk folder, the trash can, or their recycling bin—there is important information in it!

If you fear your school’s newsletter needs a fresh perspective and a new look, here are some resources you might want to research.

Your e-letter

Going green doesn’t mean reducing the amount of information you communicate. You can send an e-letter that has just as much information packed into it as a traditional printed newsletter. However, it’s easier to ignore an email, so you’ll want to spend some more time planning its layout to achieve maximum readability. Here are some tips.

  • Add images to your articles. These should be small .jpgs or .gifs so that people can view them easily without having to wait for them to download.
  • Keep articles short. If you have longer articles to include, offer an introduction to the topic and then provide a link for readers to continue the article on your website.
  • Put the article you think is most crucial first. Just like in print, the hottest topic should lead your e-letter.
  • Have a nice balance between light, community-interest articles and heavier news articles.
  • Don’t be afraid of color. Online, there are no additional fees (as there typically are for print issues).
  • Don’t fear white space, which allows online readers to take a breath.
  • Don’t forget your school’s logo, mission statement, and culture. Provide contact information. These should be included in every e-letter!
  • Add some interactivity. People like to participate in polls, leave comments, and take online quizzes.
  • Include links to your school’s social media platforms. If your school uses Twitter, Facebook, or other social sites, offer these links so people can easily navigate to those sites and find the most current updates.

There are numerous email services that can provide insight concerning whether or not your emails are being opened, read, and if people are linking through to the resources you’re providing. These services also allow you to manage lists easily, which can come in handy for those of you who are managing current student and alumni email distributions. Some of the services provided on this top-10 list are free, while others are available for a low monthly fee.

Your printed newsletter

Print still has a place in the advertising/communications world. Yes, the world is becoming greener and less paper-oriented. However, people still enjoy tangible items. Here are some tips for your school’s printed newsletter.

  • Include print-quality images with your articles. Diversify your images in your newsletter. Include students, faculty, staff, and alumni if you can. If your campus is undergoing construction, keep a photo journal of the progress. If your school’s soccer team is celebrating their season, have a team portrait to highlight the update. And, if Mrs. Smith is retiring, include her image or several pictures from the retirement party.
  • Lead with your most important article. Each issue should have a different leading story too. Don’t begin each newsletter with a letter from your Head.
  • Include URLs so that readers can read more detail online.
  • Keep it clean. Even when dealing with space confinements, your newsletter should be easy to read with enough white space that it’s not overwhelming to the eye.
  • Incorporate a fresh look. Newsletters that look like old subscriptions from the 1980s are not attractive. Silly as it sounds, people are more likely to keep something that is visually appealing than something that looks dated.
  • Include social media icons that are directed to your school’s website. If your school uses Twitter, share the URL to your school’s profile. Same for Facebook, YouTube, and other media you may use.

Website updates

Just as important as your monthly (or quarterly) newsletter is the news you update on your school’s website. Hopefully, you have an established relationship with your school’s Web team and information can be added and removed quickly with short notice. If you don’t have a good relationship with the team that hosts and maintains your website, then maybe you should start looking into alternatives. It is important to have an area on your site for alumni news, current student updates, and even a section where parents can go to find out about upcoming events and changing policies. If you’ve sent out a notice in your monthly newsletter, you should have additional information somewhere on your site where visitors can easily find all the details.

Keep in mind, you can never build too much interest for your school in your community. Provide the information your constituents need and want, and they will value what you send their way!

Additional ISM resources
The Source for Advancement Vol. 8 No. 3 How to Make Your School Newsletter Interactive
The Source for Advancement Vol. 13 No. 8 Newsletters: Important for Prospective, Current, and Past Parents
The Source for Advancement Vol. 13 No. 9 A Beginner’s Guide to Newsletters

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 41 No. 2 Enhance the Content of Your School Newsletter
I&P Vol. 36 No. 5 Conducting a Communications Audit

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