Are Company Newsletters Dead?

Posted by Mitchell Communications Group on January 29, 2013

With almost-instant news available on hand-held devices, finding the best way to communicate company news to employees is challenging. We live in times where CNN, MSNBC, YouTube, Twitter and countless others deliver news as it happens. Some of our clients wonder if their internal news is being read. They ask us, “Are newsletters effective or obsolete?”

First, we ask clients to tell us what a newsletter is. We hear it’s a regularly distributed small publication containing news of interest to a specific group. We ask a few key questions to understand our client’s existing program:

  • What do you want to communicate as news?
  • How do you currently communicate news and how often?
  • How do you measure readership?

The New York Times masthead, “All the news that’s fit to print,” appeared on Oct. 25, 1896. Today, it might read, “News – which channel are you reading?” Before you open or close channels, consider these things:

  • Who is your employee audience?
  • Is there language diversity?
  • Where are your employees working, and do they have access to computers?
  • Do you want feedback on your news?

It’s important to measure readership on the news channels you’re using today. How many employees are reading the news? Do they access the news more than once? Do you invite employees to comment? Do your employees contribute articles and photographs? Can employees share news?

Next, ask your employees how they want to receive news. That will show if a single channel or a combination of channels will improve readership. A June 2012 Pew poll revealed that 15 percent of adults most often access the Internet via hand-held devices.

Finally, determine if you need to deliver news in more than one format. What generations are represented in your employee population? Do you have employees in remote locations without computers? Do your employees use smart phones? Do you repeat critical news for retention?

Think about the newsletters you read today. It’s likely they have these things in common:

  • Access is simple
  • Content is short, clear and tailored (or appears to be) to you
  • Photographs or graphics draw interest to an article
  • Feedback is encouraged and easy
  • Occasionally, you’re asked to complete a very brief survey

Newsletters that are well written and visually appealing are powerful communication and marketing tools. Your news communication will be effective if you ask your readers about content and channels they prefer. Boldly use new channels so your masthead reads, “All the news you need, delivered the way you want it.”

Does your company still put out a newsletter, and what format is used? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.