Back in the day, say 32 years ago, I wrote my first employee newsletter for a young health insurance company with more than 2,000 employees. They never had a bona fide employee newsletter before, and I was put in complete charge of content—a writer’s dream.
I collaborated with the women in the art department who designed the quarterly newsletter and we had it printed by a local company. You don’t see paper newsletters much anymore, but I believe many people still enjoy reading something tangible, rather than digitally. Plus, paper has shelf life.
People loved the newsletter, looked forward to each issue and talked about it. Recalling what it was that made it so popular, one thing stands out: employee features. Whether in long form, Q & A format, or “Day in the Life Of” style, this newsletter delivered on making employees from all levels of the company come to life on paper. My feature on the head of our advertising department—the genius behind our award-winning TV, radio and print ad campaigns—was especially well received. Larry was a man of mystery to all but a handful of employees in the company who had the pleasure of working, side by side, with him, as I did. The feature story humanized Larry, enlightening readers to his priceless sense of humor, his passion for creative, his legacy in Philadelphia advertising, and his devotion to his family.
Of course, this newsletter was also a vehicle for company announcements, upcoming events, policy changes, and all that usual stuff, but I also put in company theme-driven puzzles, contests and trivia, employee-submitted recipes, and fun/hokey stuff like that. Lots of people photo montages, too, with captions.
I think there are two simple rules to follow to make an internal newsletter successful: keep it simple and make people the focus as much as possible. A story about new accounting software, for example, should be told through employees who thought of the idea and made it happen. A story on a new hire should incorporate comments from that person, as well as comments from personnel who will interact with the newbie. You get the idea.
So, if I were hired today to write an employee newsletter for a company, I wouldn’t do anything differently. And I would call it FaceTime®, if it wasn’t already trademarked.
Author: Beth Ann Bachmann