Let’s be real—creating newsletters is a pain. Especially if you’re creating your document in Microsoft Word, where formatting can be a real issue.
Whether you make newsletters for print or email, it’s a struggle to keep your announcements down to a page or two. But if your newsletters are much longer than that, readers lose interest and resort to skimming or throwing away the paper completely. Here are some tips to keep your newsletters short and informative:
1. Only include the most relevant information
It’s tempting to include every small update in your newsletter, but if you want to keep your readers’ interest, only choose the most important information. Limit yourself to one or two announcements for age-specific events that only apply to a small percentage of your congregation. Also, don’t include events that are more than a month away unless they require early registration.
2. Consider creating email groups as a supplement to your newsletter
If you have a large youth program or a very active group of older members, think about creating email lists so updates can be sent out to specific groups of people rather than the entire congregation. Eliminating age- or group-specific announcements will greatly shorten your newsletter so that it only contain information that applies to a majority of your members.
3. Play with formatting
While most newsletters are probably created in Microsoft Word, there are still ways to tweak the formatting to optimize the space you have. Images are a nice touch and break up large amounts of text, but they take up valuable space. Only include images when absolutely necessary (or you took a really great photograph!). Reduce your margins, but keep in mind that you don’t want your text to be too close to the edge of the paper, since that runs a higher risk of being cut off when you print it.
4. Shorten your announcements
When describing complicated events, it can be hard to keep your announcements short and sweet. Include the date, time, and very basic event information. Try to shoot for 100-word announcements, but be sure to include contact information so if anyone has additional questions they have a way to get those answers.
5. Include additional information on your website
You don’t have to completely eliminate your print newsletter to have online announcements on your website or Facebook page. Include the most important information in the print version, but include a link on the paper version to the more detailed online version, where members can find even more updates.
Even though some people might argue that print newsletters are outdated and antiquated, I believe print updates still hold value (maybe that’s just the book-loving English major in me). However, keeping your newsletter down to one page will ensure your members receive the most relevant information in a way that is engaging, compelling, and visually appealing.
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