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Choice Words from Schneider the Writer

SUBTLE NUANCES OF A NEWSLETTER

Deciding that you have the world's greatest widget or the most phenomenal service capabilities, you resolved to make your company more visible. Since you owned the right kind of computer and figured you could tell your company's story better than anyone else, you might have decided to do a newsletter. Perhaps you discovered that developing, writing and producing a newsletter are harder than they appear and, thus, dropped the idea before laser printer touched bright-colored stock -- or index finger touched computer "on" button. If so, please keep reading.

On the other hand, perhaps you went ahead, deluged your brain cells with caffeine, plunged into the monumental task and put together a newsletter, because you promised yourself that you would. There it is, in vivid chartreuse and heliotrope, in language that would cure insomnia, with information that was obsolete three months ago, waiting to be shipped to people who have better things to read. If so, please keep reading.

A newsletter can be a powerful tool, or it can be just another piece of junk mail. It can be all things to all people, especially customers and prospective customers, or it can be a pastiche of odds and ends that is valuable to nobody. A newsletter can build your image or make you wonder why you wasted your time.

Think about the newsletters you receive. Some entice you to read from cover to cover, stimulate action and make you eager for the next issue. Others get filed or placed into your "later" pile. Still others end up in the circular file immediately. Depending on your priorities, "later" can mean "never." Inundated with information, you can read -- and absorb -- only so much. The recipients of your newsletter have the same problem. Take heart. Using a few simple guidelines and the appropriate resources, you can develop a newsletter that distinguishes you from the "also-rans."

First, consider the audience. Whom do you want to reach, and why? What do you want these people to know, and what do they want to know? What kinds of information will help readers to accomplish their objectives? What will help to establish you as an authority in your field? How do you grab the reader's attention instantly? After you have determined what you want to say, think about the name, the look, the feel and the style of the newsletter.

Think about timing. How often does it make sense to publish a newsletter? Will too many issues dilute your message or be too taxing to the reader? Will the investment of your time be worthwhile? Will your message be timely and appropriate to the reader by the time it reaches his or her desk?

The best newsletters are interactive. In order to determine your effectiveness, ask the readers for responses. Are they willing to share some of their experiences with other readers? Will they respond to contests, puzzles or requests for guest editorial? Will they take the time to tell you that they disagree with something you said in your last newsletter? If so, people are reading it.

Finally, and most importantly, plan ahead. Naturally, you want your newsletter to speak volumes about you, your company and its offerings, so you create a masterpiece for your first issue. What happens next? Have you run out of things to say, or have you planned ongoing features for several issues? Are there reasons to maintain the effort, or should you have considered publishing a one-time-only capabilities brochure or other visibility vehicle?

Regardless of the method you choose to tell your company's story, you can do it with credibility, competence, consistency and flair. Take that critical step to promote your company's uniqueness. For a free consultation about on-time, on-target and cost-effective communications, contact Ilene Schneider at Schneider the Writer by phone or fax at (949) 786-6270.

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Savvy companies have outsourced their public relations and marketing communications needs to Schneider the Writer since 1985. Call today -- (949) 786-6270 (phone or FAX) -- for a free consultation, or e-mail us at Ischnei440@aol.com. You can't afford not to do it.
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Copyright 1998 Schneider the Writer
Last modified: July 25, 1998

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