To newsletter or not to newsletter

A lot of companies are keen to jump on the 'company newsletter' bandwagon as an outlet for talking to their market and current customer base. It's nuthin' new - the newsletter has been around since the dawn of business - it's just easier to distribute now through digital channels.

I am signed up to several, and read them mainly because I'm always asking myself, "Can and should we do a good newsletter for Hatch?"

The word good is pretty key in that sentence. The vast majority of company newsletters that I receive are almost entirely self-serving - they mainly involve the company banging on about how smart it is, how great it is, how great its employees are, and how great its customers are. And, they are almost always about the company's core business, which if you're aware of the company already, you really don't need to know more about.

Honestly? Even if I'm your number one biggest fan, a newsletter like that is a) not interesting and b) actually off-putting. It undermines the very purpose of the newsletter itself - to build brand reputation.

If your newsletter is gossipy, funny, or says something completely new (such as putting our monthly statistics that only you could publish) then fair enough. Or if you put out a newsletter with interesting material that has very little direct relevance to your brand, that can work too. An example would be highlighting the work of local up-and-coming artists or local free Wifi cafes - it obviously depends on what industry you're in. But if you look at your newsletter and find that it's just a bunch of self-serving goop, directly related to the work you are doing, spare yourself the trouble as it often does very little for your brand.

The reality is that putting together a good company newsletter takes a lot of time, even more creativity, and can't just be an activity crammed into a full schedule at the end of the week. If it's going to be a key communications vehicle, it needs a fair amount of resource put against it - not just the summer intern's activity. And before hitting 'send', someone in the organisation really needs to take a critical eye to put the kibash on any parts that sound like your company is collectively patting itself on the back.

I can only think of a handful of newsletters that meet these criteria and they are all really professionally done, and clearly take some time to put together. And I don't roll my eyes when I read them.


  1. Amen to that. I've worked on internal and external and you've got to give the reader...er...a reason to, well, read!

    Wanna tell me how good your company is? That's what a website's for. Newsletters should inform and educate or will get listed as spam

  2. Know thy recipent:

    I think the newsletter content discussion is good one, but once you have that right, which should be fairly easy for a good communicator. Even more important is who gets it.
    All too often these communications fail as businesses have very little knowledge of who is on their database. It's often a mish-mash of contacts, partners, customers (family) and names of people they met at a trade show five years ago.
    So, how ever compelling your words, ensure you know who you are sending it too and their self-interest in you as a business.
    Then everyones a winner...

  3. @Lee - exactly!

    @dorando - I completely agree and that's one point I meant to bring up in the post. If a company newsletter is nothing but product features or sales-speak, the recipients had better be clients or prospects or you are just playing with fire. Most companies' databases haven't been cleaned up in years and god knows who is receiving it.

    If the newsletter is nothing but sales-speak, and goes out to the general marketplace, it simply puts the company up for a whole lotta criticism.