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April 15, 2015

Six Things to Know About Great E-Newsletters – #howto

how-toIt seems as though almost everybody wants a great e-newsletter and everybody has an opinion on what that means.  But, how do e-newsletters fit in to the bigger picture for church communications?  James J. Kang, Cal-Pac Director of Communications, shares with us six things to consider:

  1. Clipart vs. Photos:  In addition to Microsoft, where Clipart originated, ceasing its support of it, Clipart cannot give people a visual preview of what a faith community does or who is there.  Photos do.  When using them, remember to obtain the consent of those whose image is being used or to give credit if using an image with the Creative Commons license.
  2. Attaching PDF vs. Email Service:  A PDF newsletter attached to an email is still a print newsletter, which is okay.  But, truly digital newsletters are via an email service such as MailChimp (free for email lists smaller than 2,000 addresses).  Using a regular email with attachment to send to over 50 email addresses at once can blacklist a church email address as spam on email servers.
  3. Link to Website vs. Full Text:  Digital newsletters value people’s time and energy by shortening the amount of content published and linking the rest to a website.  The point of the newsletter is to keep people connected to the community, not necessarily to the newsletter.  In other words, the website is the newsletter.  The email is the notification (or reminder) of new articles.
  4. Invitation vs. Announcement:  Event announcements make sense if everyone already knows what the event being announced is about.  To tell someone who knows little about an event that it was made for people like them, send an invitation that explains why and how.  An email service makes this easy by being able to personally and directly invite a person to an event.
  5. Social vs. Email:  Digital newsletters as a link on a Facebook post or Tweet is still a newsletter, which is okay.  But, truly social newsletters are actually short pieces of motivational statements in the form of a Facebook post or Tweet.  In other words, the website is the newsletter, the email is the notification of new articles, and the social media post is a one sentence, or one graphic, summary of an article.
  6. Purpose vs. Precedence:  A newsletter takes a lot of time and energy.  Maybe it is time to rethink the need for a newsletter by understanding the need newsletters fulfill and then exploring other ways of fulfilling that need.  In the end, what a church wants are not just informed members, but also motivated ones.  Is that what a newsletter can deliver?

Coming to, or nearby, Annual Conference 2015 and wishing to learn more about social media? Take James’ workshop entitled, “Social Media: Don’t do it!” at the Best Practices Summit 2015.