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There are several things to consider when creating a company newsletter. Things like tone, content, layout, and headlines. Much of this will depend on how much input your client wishes to have. Some managers will give you carte blanche while others will want to write the whole thing, leaving you with simply editing and a pat on their back for their superb writing skills and creativity.
While talking with your client, ask straight out about the tone they’d like their newsletter to have. I like to think of tone as the mood of the company. Is it a formal workplace or casual? Are the employees playful or stuffy? Spending some time at their work center can be a real eye opener and help you establish the tone that works well for everyone. Also, if you’re writing for a small, local company, you might even have a chance to meet many of the employees. Believe it or not, this small investment of your time can pay big dividends when you’re able to really personalize the articles for and about the employees.
Most newsletter content is usually provided by the client. They will have their routine announcements, calendar events, policy information, and other specific things they want their employees to know about. Often, you will be asked to provide an article or two that might relate to a specific theme such as the time of the year or based on the corporate calendar. Some writers will provide their own articles and others will outsource based on their own knowledge base and the desires of the company. If you use material written by someone else, ensure that you have their permission to reprint.
As for layout, you may or may not be involved in this process. The more you can have control over, the more you can charge. If you are also responsible for the appearance of the newsletter, you’ll want to find out what your client feels requires the most important emphasis. Some businesses want to highlight their employees on the first page of the newsletter. This not only makes the employees feel good, it also helps to pull them in and encourages them to keep reading. And that’s what your client needs, a newsletter that gets read. However, some companies would prefer to grab their employees with an interesting article and intersperse the employee highlights towards the end of the newsletter.
Often, important calendar events are highlighted in a sidebar on the first page with routine events listed towards the back of the publication in calendar format or a bulleted list. A short table of contents on the first page is also a nice sidebar to help readers navigate to the things they want to read first (or last!).
Another thing your client might want to discuss with you is the delivery options of their newsletter. While many people like to have a physical newsletter to read at their leisure, many businesses are going to an online email format to get the word out. If your client opts for an online format, let him know that this doesn’t mean he has to scrimp on graphics or formatting. There are several ways available to help provide a professional looking newsletter that is more than just the e-zine text format of old. One such tool that I have personally used is Constant Contact, which allows you to import your text into templates (that can be changed with ease) along with graphics and links to other online content.
If you are tasked for the whole print project, make sure you’ve partnered with a printer who has experience with newsletters and can also advise you on colors, graphics, paper quality, and size recommendations.
Another thing to remember is to keep to your deadline. Your client will expect your product on time as it is a routine document, and once the layout is determined all you will have to really worry about is the writing.
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