E-Journalism for E-Newsletters

Spring 2006

E-Journalism for E-Newsletters


The electronic newsletter, or “E-Newsletter,” can be an image-enhancing, sales-stimulating client communications vehicle. It helps firms of all sizes use the Internet for business development. It’s relatively inexpensive and can be used as a print piece – such as a proposal insert or handout. Precepts that govern the format hard-copy newsletters – draw readers in, get them to read the text, look at the images, and remember your firm name – apply equally to E-newsletters.

  • An E-newsletter is a contemporary form of journalism. Editorial style for a quality E-newsletter should be conversational, informational, and interesting. Your E-newsletter will grab your readers’ attention when it presents…

Compelling information they can find nowhere else!

For example, a lighting design firm focused an E-newsletter issue on sustainable aspects of commercial lighting. It’s a firm specialty. Their clients are concerned about rising power costs. Educating their clients on illumination sustainability is environmentally laudable and sound marketing practice. Their E-newsletter explained the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and illustrated, with a table, how much money clients can save. (The firm reported a flood of inquiries, and new business.)

  • Text must be tight, punchy, relevant to client interests, and timely. For example, here are opening statements from two professional journals editorials. A regional real estate magazine publisher wrote one. The editor of a national retail store design monthly wrote the other. The opening to the Publisher’s Letter…

“New Spaces”

“Developing new real estate is a challenge for certain municipalities in the Northeast. Charged with creating new business, economic development authorities are always looking for businesses to recruit and find developers that will create new projects for these new businesses.” (The paragraph goes on for six more long sentences.)

From the Editor…

“New York: A New Chapter.”

“In the last few months, the creative leadership has dramatically changed at all of the major New York department stores. Such extensive and sweeping change is unprecedented.”

The publisher’s opener is vague; “the Northeast” is a big place. Which municipalities is he addressing? The second sentence rambles. The point is obscure. Maybe he means…“economic development authorities are always looking to recruit businesses and to find developers who will create projects for these new businesses.”

The editor’s letter is specific and emphatic. The headline expressed an opinion about one of the country’s major retail markets. The two-sentence opener is short and a grabber, drawing the reader into the well-documented text.

  • Set a distribution schedule. Quarterly is minimum; shorter and more frequent is better. If something significant occurs between issues, create a special edition.

E-newsletters need special editorial skill to weave your firm’s image into short features and news items. Restrict length to two pages; people quickly lose interest on the Web. Your E-newsletter has two to four seconds to make your desired visual personality impact. If you show a photo, use the text to frame the scene. Vivid, conversational words create or reinforce memorable images. As an example, here’s a headline from a hospitality publication’s news column…

“In New York City and other urban markets, lobby restaurants
are no longer just an extension of the hotel.”

However, for a firm’s E-newsletter…

“Three projects in Manhattan hotels, all designed by our firm, have all attracted top chefs, and made lobbies into destinations in themselves.”

  • Elements of an E-newsletter are a lead story, a short news piece, special interest items about your firm, and captioned illustrations. Photos or drawings clarify and reinforce your verbal message, and aid memory retention.
  • Design your E-newsletter to convey your firm’s image in the precise way you’d like your firm to be seen. Invest in the best graphic consultant you can find.
  • Distribute your E-newsletter to your firm’s past and current clients, prospects, friends, and local and national press. Assign someone to maximize the number of people you reach. It costs less than a mailed newsletter, and gets there faster.
  • Invite select recipients to contribute to your E-newsletter. A client could share experiences. A third party – such as a financial consultant – can diversify your message. Contributions from outside of your firm add an implied “ownership” position. Clients see your primary objective is providing worthwhile information.
  • How do you evaluate your E-newsletter’s effectiveness?

E-newsletters build a loyal readership that pays off in loyal clients. Statistics on how much immediate new business you can expect is insufficient. Consider it an inexpensive way to get prospects to know you, and to maintain contact with current and past clients. It’s a thoughtful way to show people you have a firm of talented, knowledgeable problem-solvers. That should generate calls and viable leads.

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Vilma Barr, guest contributor and true promotional veteran, heads an editorial and promotional consulting firm. For questions, (215) 564-1979 or VilmaBarr@aol.com.