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Should the company newsletter merely inform, or entertain as well?

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Question: "When I was asked to put together the company newsletter, I was sad to find out it was just a sheet of paper showing upcoming holidays, a list of sales goals, and reminders from HR about this and that. In my previous job, we would write offbeat articles, interview people about their hobbies, even have a haiku contest! Everyone looked forward to it. Shouldn't the point of a company newsletter be to tell employees something they don't already know, and create a sense of camaraderie?" - Dale, HR Documentation Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita February 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Our monthly company newsletter is published online (internal only), but is aimed at employees spread all over our state (we’re a state agency). There are periodic “letters” from our Commissioner, letting us know where the agency is going, and how we hope to get there, but there is also a “kudos” area for comments or thanks to particular employees. These comments come from customers, co-workers and others we interact with while doing our jobs. Sometimes it’s thanks for a job well done, sometimes it’s a story about an employee who went above and beyond to help someone, sometimes it’s a thank you to a department that delivers consistently good customer service. It’s a chance to pat each other on the back.
Another feature, less frequent, is a focus on an individual employee – - once an employee went on vacation to Africa, took lots of pictures and wrote a sort of travelogue. One employee was featured because of an unusual hobby, playing with a zydeco band (this is the Pacific Northwest, not Cajun country !). There’s also a page where staff can send in pictures of new babies and grandbabies, and there’s a “Puzzler” with a prize for the first correct answer (your picture featured on the next Puzzler page). All in all, it creates interest, promotes camaradarie, informs and, hopefully, inspires.

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Michelle February 27, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Sadly I put together our company’s “employee newsletter”. There is next to no participation or input from our employees, especially after the GM “edited” one of our printed copies. I’ve pretty much given up, and let the GM’s “new young events coordinator” have it. The morale is so low at our company, an employee newsletter is not going to help much at all.

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Laura February 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I believe the company newsletter should be informative yet entertaining. If it only contains facts and figures, most employees will eventually stop reading it. Which means it will only become another useless sheet of paper that clutters the desk and end up in the garbage. I would think that no one has ever tried adding other information and the boring task has been passed around. If you can see how you can add those informative facts and figures and HR news along with fun facts, employee birthdays, contest, a “spotlight” section, it might once again become a “must read” by everyone. Be sure you keep it to one sheet (front and back of course).

Enjoy letting your creativeness flow into an enjoyable newsletter for your fellow co-workers!

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Kathy February 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

The point of a company newsletter “should be” whatever the company wants it to be. Some companies are all business and may want their newsletter to be useful but sterile communications. I work for a nonprofit that is youth-focused, so our company newsletter has critical info as well as the human interest aspects that enhance our camaraderie and reflect our corporate culture. But it’s a time-consuming task for our one-person HR office and for all of us who feed info and articles to her. There are some companies for which that is an unnecessary or unaffordable expense.

If you want to try moving your company from its sterile newsletter to a personable one, try adding just one useful but interesting factoid in each issue…perhaps a “did you know?” at the end of the newsletter. Assuming that doesn’t backfire on you, it may enable you to expand the fun stuff little by little.

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Kate February 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I publish our company newletter and we get a lot of interaction/feedback from our employee’s! We include an “Employee Focus” where fellow employee’s nominate eachother to be featured for their hard work, there is usually an inspirational piece, birth announcements, wedding announcements, and our resident artist does a monthly comic! Of course we include a piece from the owners that usually talks about main concerns and the business outlook, and our quality deparment submits numbers, but we find that more people will read the newsletter if it includes all the other “fluff”!

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Donna February 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I am also doing a company newsletter. My last position I did one monthly. Here we just started one, and it is quarterly. I’m finding that by the time I print it, a lot of the “news” isn’t worth printing because the employee had the baby 3 months ago & every one already knows about it. I need other ideas to put in it.

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Theresa Kasel February 27, 2014 at 4:44 pm

It sounds like you work at a small company so making birth announcements part of the newsletter isn’t meaningful. If people won’t be offended, I would drop the birth announcements. (It’s possible that employees like to have the announcement in the newsletter — even if the event was three months ago.) Just because it’s not “new” doesn’t mean the employee doesn’t want it reported.

Maybe you could do an employee spotlight piece instead of birth announcements. Ask a different employee each quarter to tell a bit about themself. This would need to be voluntary and keep it light — maybe they say what their favorite food, color, activity is, where they went to school, most memorable moment of their life, etc.

If you’re doing a quarterly newsletter it should report how the company did in the last quarter and what the goals for the next quarter are.

I don’t think your newsletter needs to be long. And, frankly, if it’s longer that one or two pages, no one is reading it.

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Marcia February 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I put together a company newsletter every other week for my current company. Our company newsletter is used to inform employees about upcoming employee recreational events such as ice cream socials, holiday activities, and other fun events; updates about certain departments or policies and procedures and even congratulating an employee on a significant change in their career. Company newsletters should be used to inform, encourage, and connect everyone within a company together.

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