Office Newsletter - what would you include?
February 23, 2016 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm responsible for composing and constructing a new monthly email newsletter for our very large department..... if you were to receive such a newsletter, as an associate, what kinds of things would you want to see?

Obviously this will include monthly updates for the firm, the department, new hires, staff anniversaries etc..... but what else would you recommend I include that would REALLY excite you as a recipient?

These kinds of things, if done poorly, have little impact I find - so I'm turning to you guys for some inspiration of things that you would like to read in a newsletter at the office.
posted by JenThePro to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Any genuinely exiting information is NEWS and can come across in an email when it happens - a big win, a cool new project, a new available job with internal promotion possibilities.

Anything that can wait for a monthly newsletter is not news, and is therefore almost certainly boring and not worth reading.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

anything coming up that has actual value to me (trainings, events with food, etc)

any relevant information about facilities (that whirring noise in the ceiling, replacement for the flickering fluorescents, if you need help with thermostat adjustment here's who you call, stuff like that)

edit - these aren't exactly exciting but it's information that I would appreciate having.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:29 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My company's newsletter has a get to know someone section with questions not related to work, favourite food, movie, music etc, and pictures of three different employees as children and you have to guess who they are.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:50 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok, to be strategic about it, you should probably just use a site like Buzz Sumo to see what people share online.

As for content ideas, what do people in your workplace talk about over lunch? Stuff like this can be a rich source of inspiration.

I once asked a "content professional" who is paid to generate content on a daily basis where he gets his inspiration from and his answer was This site is very interesting because if you look through it you can see a pattern of tricks (such as 7 Quick Tips for, 10 Things You Never Knew About, etc) which they employ to make their articles interesting. These techniques could be easily emulated for your newsletter. The headlines and structure of articles on might be another site to get ideas from.

Just don't forget to make your content relevant, educational or funny.
posted by jacobean at 10:03 AM on February 23, 2016

Best answer: The things our employees liked best were the "kudos" section (compliments from coworkers and outsiders) and any time a photo of themselves showed up. Apparently this was mainly because they could take it home and show it to their kids.

But seriously, they loved it. Almost nothing else that either PR or HR did impressed any of these people, but they asked for extra copies of that newsletter and I frequently "caught" folks reading the old newsletters in the break rooms. I made annual anthology versions on half-size pages, for the break rooms, and people actually stole them for themselves!

My HR director refused to believe those photos were that popular until we reached the "stealing" part.)
posted by SMPA at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have a weekly email blast that comes out on Friday evenings. It's organized around our strategic goals and objectives, and in each section celebrates what people have accomplished that week to support what we're trying to achieve. So you'll see deals/sales, major project milestones, photos from team events, people news, etc. Relevant updates from other parts of the business. We also include emails/letters from clients thanking us or recognizing an employee for something they did. Some fun stuff at the end, too - birthdays, non-work stuff that an employee did, etc.

Most exciting thing in the world? No. Pretty good about keeping people in the loop and understanding how the business unit is working together toward a common set of goals? Yup.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:21 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pictures pictures pictures! Some of this depends on how big your department is but think about what the goals are of the newsletter, why do you have it? Do people have to read it? What is the information that you want them to get out of it? What other information would you want people to get?

So things like

- announcements that are cool and can set a tone of the company being vaguely human (i.e. have a voice, not just a flat "these are the facts")
- links to interesting mentions or accolades outside the company
- events coming up and other stuff that might be useful like "Did you know you get free burritos on Fridays with your cafeteria pass?" or whatever. Make These Not Stupid.
- Depending on how your your crowd skews maybe some humor like reaction gifs about a thing that happened that was funny
- Social media mentions and/or interactions that were noteworthy

Basically this is a way to put a slightly more human voice on some of the stuff that you do. Make it short, skimmable, linkable to other places (social media etc), mobile-friendly and full of images.
posted by jessamyn at 10:21 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My vet puts out a monthly newsletter that I always find myself reading despite my general notice-and-immediately-delete method of dealing with newsletters. It's engaging and has good info. I realize that an intra-office newsletter and a customer-facing vet newsletter are going to have different needs, but hopefully it can be useful to you in some capacity.

-SHORT, like just a couple paragraphs, with links to take you to further info on their website.
-Tasteful bright color scheme, pictures, and broken up to be quickly reasonable
-Always starts with the month's theme (dental health, spay and neuter, Halloween pet dangers, etc) in a quick intro way with a link to a blog post on their website
-Brief mention of a promotion if they're doing one that month (refer a friend for 10%, etc) or upcoming events
-Short bit on a celebrity pet (like if a client cat has an instagram account or a client dog recently saved a toddler lost in the snow)
-New patients welcome section, with three pictures of puppies/kittens
-At the very bottom is boring but important stuff, like holiday hours or a new vet tech who has joined the staff.

They are easy to read, have great information but don't overwhelm you with a wall of text, and have pictures of cute animals. I look at every single one, read most of them, and often find myself clicking through to read their blog post. A+ newsletter work.
posted by phunniemee at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

An old office I worked it had a graphic at the bottom of every newsletter that photoshopped the heads of various people in the office onto relevant cultural scenes. So for example, when the lego movie was released, a photo from the movie with people's heads photoshopped onto the different lego characters. Or if they were doing it today, I would imagine they would get a photo from one of the Republican debates and photoshop on people's heads. There is a start-up cost of getting everyone to send you a photo you can grab their head from, but once you get the files set for that it goes pretty quick. And for sure everyone loved it - super fun!
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:45 PM on February 23, 2016

Food schedules - when is the food truck coming, when will there be sushi, who is bringing in cupcakes for so and so's birthday, etc.

Basically, think of the "what is in it for me" angle for the readership.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:35 PM on February 23, 2016

I did a department newsletter, for my Scientific Affairs department at a big dietary supplement company. People told me they liked it, and I used get new subscription requests from other departments a lot.

The focus of the newsletter was emerging science relevant to our business, which probably isn't relevant to you, but here's my humble opinion on making a newsletter something people want to read: make it look nice.
  • No clip art! Seriously, no clip art. Nothing says amatuerish and no-fucks-were-given like clip art. Look for a nice photograph to illustrate your story (just make sure it's not watermarked).
  • Illustrate all the stories with a nice photograph. It makes the page look inviting. Pictures of your coworkers, obviously, if they are the subjects of the stories, but just pictures of stuff otherwise.
  • A personal preference, and maybe an actual graphic designer would curl her lip at this, but I pumped up the saturation of most pictures I used.
  • I use Google image search like this: Search tools>image size>large, type>photograph and -stock, -getty. So if I want a picture of a stack of books, I'll search "stack of books" -stock -getty. That mostly weeds out the watermarked images.
  • Come up with your own Word (or InDesign if you're lucky like that) template. The built-in ones generally look it. (Though I do think this one is pretty cool, and I swiped some ideas from it to make my own.) It's not that hard, and then you have a unified look, that you just plug the info into every month.
  • But vary it every month -- different accent colors, maybe, different picture sizes. In Word you can make text flow around an irregular image. I personally think that looks boss, every once in a while.
  • The golden ratio is your friend.
  • Two fonts, in as many sizes as you want, but only two fonts -- one serif, one sans-serif.
  • Almost all text black on white, so people can read it.
Apologies if you are in the Graphics department and know all this stuff better than I do!

As far as content, I'd say lots of little short stories in a sidebar. Somebody spoke at this conference, somebody got their Masters, that kind of stuff -- with pictures if you can. I labored way more over the rest of it, the meat, as I thought it, but people told me they liked the sidebar the best. Also the back page was always a long interview with an employee (with lots of pictures) -- Spotlight on [Name]. Funnily enough, right after the first issue of my newsletter came out, my company started doing this -- Spotlight on [Name] and putting it on posters around the office and on the intranet site. People dig it, apparently.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:30 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you should avoid trite, and minimize entertainment.

Large department implies a large number of people. I guarantee you that any large number of people does not have all the information and/or context that they need. If you populate it with nothing more than "we learned something new this month: here it is" you'll be very successful.

Disclaimer: I work in a place where things are hard, and we learn new stuff all the time. The resulting information is also highly coveted and isn't propagated as well as it should be - so putting it out via newsletter solved a very real set of problems.

I also take issue with the first comment about how if it's not news, it is by definition boring. There's an entire industry built around deeper analysis and context vs. simply reporting events. Great longform pieces show up in places like The Atlantic weeks after events. Think John Oliver vs. CNN. You want to be John Oliver. Use the monthly format to your advantage to provide additional value that can't be delivered via email as status update.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:38 PM on February 23, 2016

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