News you can use: Learn how to write newsletter articles

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Meet the pressSo, you need to develop a newsletter. You have the design ready to go, but you need more than lorem ipsum for the content. Where do you start? Well, here are some basic steps to writing a newsletter article:

  1. Consider your audience
  2. Determine your message
  3. Gather info
  4. Write the copy
  5. Include photos and/or graphics

Who are your readers and what will you tell them?

As with any communication piece, when you start writing newsletter articles, your first step is to consider your audience and the overall message or purpose:

  • Will the newsletter go to prospects?
  • Or to your organization’s employees?
  • Is the purpose to establish your organization as a helpful expert?
  • Or are you trying to persuade to purchase?
  • If your newsletter is internal, are you simply informing your co-workers?
  • Or are you trying to motivate your sales team?

Whoever your readers and whatever the purpose, write newsletter articles to address both. For instance, if your newsletter is to motivate customers to purchase, an article introducing your new CFO is a waste of space. On the other hand, an article about a big win with tips from the sales representative is absolutely appropriate.

Gathering info

Resources for your newsletter article could include:

  1. The Internet
  2. Company announcements and other documents
  3. People

When using the Internet as a resource, make sure websites are respectable and reliable (e.g., government websites vs. Wikipedia). Make sure to get permission when necessary (e.g., if your quoting or using an excerpt). And always list the website as a source at the end of the article. Here’s an example:

Source: www.creativeconsultants2go/Learn_how_to_write_newsletter_content

If you’re interviewing someone to gather information, set up a meeting with them. It’s better than ambushing your source and risk them being ill prepared. And make sure you’re prepared by writing down all your questions beforehand. Journalism 101 teaches that articles should answer these basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Here’s a few other more detail-oriented questions you should always remember to ask:

  1. Spelling of names?
  2. Titles?
  3. Are pictures available?

Writing articles

The first paragraph is called the lede. Make this attention grabbing and short. Ledes are typically only one sentence long, sometimes two. You could start with a friendly, witty or unexpected lede, depending on the tone of your newsletter. Or you could go the more journalistic route and construct the article as an inverted pyramid. In other words, the lede would contain the gist or most important information in the story and then get down to the secondary details in later paragraphs.

Even if your lede is the less journalistic, friendly type, the rest of your article should be organized as an inverted pyramid. That way, if your busy readers don’t have time to read the entire article, they’ll get what they need to know from the first few paragraphs.

Usually, the best articles are written simply and concisely. Avoid jargon, especially with an external audience. Some jargon might be OK with an internal audience, but be careful — make sure those jargony words or phrases are universally known by your audience members.

Here are a few other tips to help you write simply:

  1. Use a conversational style: everday words, shorter sentences, contractions, “you”
  2. Check grade level. (Keep it between 5 and 9, depending on your audience. If you’re not familiar with your audience’s education, keep the grade level to 5 or 6)
  3. Break up big blocks of text: shorter paragraphs, subheads, callouts

Eye candy

Actually, graphics and photos are more than just eye candy — they should convey information or, at least, add to the story.

Photos: Readers love pictures. They like seeing the faces of the people they’re reading about and they especially enjoy seeing those people in action. So, choose action shots over head shots or group pictures whenever possible.

Graphics: A fun, colorful representation of your story can pique readers’ interest and get them to check out the article. Just make sure the graphic doesn’t overshadow the article.

If the photos or graphics you use aren’t original (i.e., they’re someone else’s creation), make sure you follow copyright laws by purchasing them.

Try reading other newsletters to find examples of articles you like. Analyze what you like about them and see if you can imitate those aspects.

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