How to produce an employee newsletter
Click on a question to see the answer or scroll down the page.
If you wish to print out this prompt, download the PDF version which is formatted for A4 size paper.
- Why produce my employee newsletter?
- What do I want my employee newsletter to achieve?
- Who is my employee newsletter aimed at?
- How frequently should I publish my employee newsletter?
- How do I plan my newsletter production?
- What format should my employee newsletter take?
- What paper types and printing should I use for my newsletter?
- What should I call my employee newsletter?
- How do I design my newsletter?
- What content should I include in my employee newsletter?
- What editorial tone should I use in my employee newsletter?
- How do I get a quote for printing my newsletter?
- How do I plan an issue of my employee newsletter?
- How do I write articles for my employee newsletter?
- How do I edit articles for my employee newsletter?
- What about photographs and images for my newsletter?
- How do I check my newsletter?
- How is my newsletter laid out?
- How do I check proofs of my newsletter?
- Printing and distributing my employee newsletter
- The next issue of my employee newsletter
Before you start, be clear about why you are spending valuable time and money on producing an employee newsletter. Use questions 2-4 to identify your objectives and how to achieve them.
- Motivate employees and establish an effective work culture
- Demonstrate appreciation of every individual and the role they play
- Keep employees up-to-date with company development
- Inform employees on specific issue(s):
- All employees
- Junior / senior staff
- UK /worldwide employees
- Specific department(s)
Newsletters work best as communication vehicles and motivators when they are published to a set frequency. It is important to stick to your schedule.
Working backwards, calculate how much time it will take to complete each stage:
|Plan issue||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Research & interviews||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Write articles||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Design & layout||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Proofreading||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Printing||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Distribute to employees||…… days / weeks||Date: ….. / ….. / …..|
|Total||…… days / weeks|
This will enable you to know when to start working on your newsletter in order for it to reach your audience on your desired publication date.
|Start work: …… /…… /……||Publication date: …… /…… /……|
Printed newsletters are usually produced in standard A4 paper size format. For every sheet of paper, you have two pages. Calculate the number of pages:
- 2 pages – 1 x double-sided sheet of A4 paper
- 4 pages – 1 x double-sided sheet of A3 paper folded to make 4 x A4 pages
- 8 pages – 2 x double-sided sheets of A3 paper folded to make 8 x A4 pages and then stapled
- 12 pages – 3 x double-sided sheets of A3 paper folded to make 12 x A4 pages and then stapled
- …….. pages – the total number (including cover) must be divisible by 4.
If you prefer, you can choose to have A3, tabloid or a non-standard page size.
Your printer should be able to show you samples of suitable paper. While black and white printing used to be cheaper, full colour is more affordable now. Ask your printer to give you a quotation for both, if necessary.
The name of your newsletter is very important and you need to establish what it will be before creating a basic design. The name should have significance for your readers – you may want to consult with them or run a competition to choose a name that will be both suitable and popular.
If you choose to use an external designer or have an in-house designer, they need to be involved at the earliest possible stage. The visual style of the newsletter – the look and feel – should be agreed before the first issue is laid out.
The design normally reflects an organisation’s corporate identity and often features its logo.
By developing a design at this stage, it will enable you to calculate how many words will fit on each page, so that you know how many articles to write and how long they should be.
The answers to questions 1-4 should help you decide the content of articles.
A general employee newsletter could include:
- Personal message from managing director
- Profiles of departments or employees
- Company news, eg products, organisational changes, new appointments, company performance
- Social news
- Contributions from employees, letters, etc
To create continuity from one issue to the next, include regular features, eg employees writing about their interests. If there is a lot of detailed company information, make it more digestible by splitting into several articles in more than one issue.
The newsletter should talk to employees honestly to avoid being seen as “company propaganda”. The tone should be upbeat and light-hearted where appropriate – you do want people to enjoy it! If you do not have experience of writing or editing, an experienced copywriter can help write articles for you.
To prepare an accurate quote, your printer needs to know:
- Page size …… eg A4, A3, tabloid
- Number of pages ……
- Stapling or other finishing required …………………………………
- Paper type eg matt or gloss finish ………………………………….
- Quantity …… ie how many copies of the newsletter you want printed
- Artwork – will you employ a designer to produce a digital layout with photographs scanned in high quality? If possible, tell the printer what format of software file the designer will provide …………………………………
- Date: ….. / ….. / ….. when you will get the finished artwork to the printer
- Date: ….. / ….. / ….. when the finished newsletters must be delivered to you
Once you have all the above information, you can start to produce your first issue.
First, create a schedule and advise this to every participant (eg designer, printer) so that they are ready when you need them.
Next, you need to decide the content of the current issue:
- What do you need employees to know?
- What do employees need to know about?
- What do employees want to hear about?
- What is newsworthy?
- What events are happening?
- Are there any achievements – either company or personal – to celebrate?
- Are there any updates to stories in previous issues?
- Create a flat plan – a diagram of which articles will appear on each page
If you are writing an article yourself:
- Decide what you want an article to say
- Decide how long the article will be
- Interview people if you want to quote them – if they are busy, send them questions by email and ask them to send you a written quote
- Try to write simply. Not everyone will be an expert on that topic, but they need to be able to understand it
- Double-check facts and figures and check with interviewees that they are sure that what you have quoted is suitable for publication
If you ask employees to contribute articles, give them a clear brief:
- Agree the topic and what the article will say
- Agree the length
- Agree the tone and written style
- Agree the deadline for completion
If you are using a professional copywriter, give them a similar detailed brief and as much information as possible.
If you have written an article itself, it should need no editing.
Contributions from other employees should be edited to ensure:
- The content is suitable
- All material reads well – cut out waffle
- Consistency in spellings, industry jargon, etc
The editor of the newsletter must ensure that high standards are maintained throughout. While senior managers may not want to have their articles changed, it is the editor’s responsibility to ensure everything is suitable. In some cases, this may be difficult to argue, but it is vital that the editor has control. Often, those who do not bow to an editor’s concerns can end up looking foolish in print.
Photographs can produce a very strong impact and add a lot of interest to a newsletter – their inclusion should be considered when developing the basic newsletter design.
Wherever possible, try to obtain a good quality photograph of people contributing articles or mentioned in them.
- Where budgets allow, use professional photography
- Try to shoot interesting photographs – avoid people sitting at PCs or standing with their hands crossed in front of them
- Photographs of people looking natural make better than those of people posing artificially
- Do not use passport-style photographs
Use photographic prints the same size or bigger than each photograph as it will appear in the newsletter – even better, use transparencies. Digital photographs must be taken at 300 dots per inch resolution. Photographs taken at 72 dpi may look good on the internet, but are not good enough for quality printing.
Once you have all your articles and photographs, check everything:
- Are facts and figures accurate?
- Are spellings and grammar correct – you may want to ask colleagues to read everything for you as a fresh eye can often spot any mistakes more easily. You may prefer to ask a professional proofreader to check your material
- Are names correct? Are people in photographs captioned correctly?
- Do any articles need to be approved by other people?
- Are you sure that everything is suitable for publication?
- Are the messages in your newsletter consistent with all other internal communications?
If you have any concerns, this is the time to resolve them.
Once you have all your material – articles, photographs or other images – hand these to the designer and discuss the layout as shown in your flat plan.
Label photographs so the designer knows which articles they accompany.
The designer should provide proofs to you so that you can check the newsletter before going to print.
- Read through the whole proof
- Can you spot any errors? It’s your last opportunity to do so
- Have articles been included in their entirety and not been chopped off at the end?
- Are photographs in the right places and correctly captioned?
- Are you certain that everyone who should approve any aspect of the newsletter has been given the chance to do so and has confirmed their approval?
If there are any final corrections, advise these to the designer and request a corrected proof.
Once you have approved the layout, the approved version must be sent to the printer to print the finished copies of the newsletter.
When you receive the printed copies, check to see that they are as you approved them. Occasionally, there are mix-ups where previous, incorrect versions are printed by mistake – ensure your approved version has been printed.
Finally, distribute the newsletter to the employees.
Feedback is very important to ensure that your newsletter meets the needs of employees as well as the company. If people do not like a newsletter, they will not read it.
As well as asking people what they think of it, you can conduct reader surveys to ask what people like or dislike and what else they would like to see included.