Making the Most of Your Company Newsletters

A newsletter can be a marketer’s best friend. But like any relationship, they require an investment of your time, an understanding of what makes them tick, and some tender, loving care.

There are a few key factors you need to consider and best practices to implement before making a newsletter a regular part of your communications strategy.

Printed vs. Electronic? What is your delivery method?

You need to decide the medium for your newsletter.

Will you produce something that needs to be printed and mailed, or will you create a newsletter on a digital platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact?

Below, we outline best practices for both.

Printed Newsletters 

In this day in age, with so much electronic communication, the idea of receiving a printed newsletter might be a novel one.

Your target audience may appreciate the fact that you’re investing dollars to communicate with them, and they have something tangible to hold on to, clip, highlight, or pass on to someone else.

In a nutshell, they have a longer shelf life and are a great place to profile employees, clients, or donors. There is just something about seeing your name in print that is special.

If you decide a printed newsletter is a way to go for your organization or business, here are a few good rules of thumb, some of which apply to digital newsletters as well.

Create compelling content: 

Regardless of your mode of delivery, your content needs to draw your readers in and keep them interested. 

Guidestar, a popular resource for nonprofit organizations, says that your readers need to gain something from your communications so that they feel reading it was worth their time, and they look forward to the next edition.

Articles can be informational, inspirational, or educational as long you leave your readers with key takeaways.

Enlist professional design and writing services:

If you’re going to invest in doing a newsletter, consider hiring a professional graphic designer.

The designer has the skill set to design a template for you that is not only eye-catching but effective as well. And they can make the most out of “white” or “negative” space and choose fonts that strike an even balance between being inviting and being easy-on-the-eyes.

“A professional graphic designer can make sure your company’s branding and values are enhanced and reflected in a newsletter template while complementing the writer’s tone,” says Purvi Baron, principal of Sincera Designs, a Sugar Land, Texas-based graphic design firm.

You may also want to consider outsourcing to a professional writing firm.

These firms have a variety of talented individuals on their team who can efficiently create compelling and engaging copy. They offer a fresh, outside perspective, too, that you may not get working with someone in-house.

Use pull quotes:

A pull quote is a crucial phrase or excerpt from an article used as a graphical element in a layout, to help draw readers into the content.

See below for an example from Process Street of a pull quote and its use in a design. 

Don’t ignore the back page: 

There is a segment of the population that starts reading magazines, newsletters, and other printed materials from back to front.

Make sure your back page is just as engaging as the front. 

Be consistent with your branding: 

Your newsletter should reflect the look and feel of your organization or business. Make sure to include the logo and use your color palette.

These simple actions will help make your publications recognizable, and readers will begin to associate the newsletter that arrives in their mailbox with your organization or business. 

Digital Newsletters 

Electronic newsletters are much more cost-efficient than a printed newsletter and lend you the ability to send them out on a more regular basis.

And when you consider that, according to, 9 in 10 American adults use the Internet and three-quarters of the American population have Internet services at home, a digital newsletter might be your most effective mode of delivery.

Aside from some of the best practices that apply to printed newsletters, such as presenting engaging content, hiring a professional graphic designer and writing team, and being consistent with your branding, there are several “rules of thumb” when you decide to create and launch an email-based newsletter.


Several email-newsletter programs allow you to personalize content for the recipient.

Customizing your news may make your reader feel valued and important, and it will stand out from the rest of their inbox as well.


An article by CNBC says that three-quarters of the world will use their smartphones to access the Internet by the year 2025.

For this reason, you need to work with your designers and email developers to make sure your newsletter displays just as nicely on your mobile devices as it does on your PCs.

In fact, you may want to start the mobile design first. Failing to make your newsletters “responsive” will jeopardize your ability to engage with your readers.

Clever subject line: 

We are inundated with mountains of emails every day. You need to be creative about your subject line so you can make your readers open the email newsletter you’ve worked so hard to create.

You might want to include words that ask a question or challenge the reader, or if appropriate, utilize humor.

A write-up in provides some great examples of email subject lines. Here are just a few B2C examples the article cites:

  • Travelocity: Need a day at the beach? Just scratch n’ sniff your way to paradise…
  • Uber: Since we can’t all win the lottery…
  • Overstock: Seriously. We’d like to thank you.
  • Grubhub: Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About
  • Groupon: Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
  • Eater Boston: Where to Drink Beer Right Now (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday)
  • Fabletics: Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants
  • UrbanDaddy: You’ve Changed
  • Influitive: So I’ll pick you up at 7?
  • BloomThat: Better than a pumpkin spice latte!
  • Gap: Mondays are suddenly AWESOME
  • The Bold Italic: Just P100ho You: Where to Eat SF’s Best Pho
  • The Muse: We Like Being Used

Vertical Response provides the following as examples for B2B subject lines:

  • How to Leverage (your product) in Your Business
  • Save Money and Look Like a Star to Your Boss
  • How to Impress Your CFO — Save $1000
  • Increase Your ROI by 30%, Guaranteed
  • How to make it onto your buyer’s shortlist
  • Free Webinar: [insert webinar name]
  • Now you can do even more with your (xxxx) should your company outsource (insert thing to outsource here)?
  • Breakfast & Secrets for How to (insert the problem you solve or the product you sell)
  • Success Tip: 5 Ways to a Better (xxxx)

Crystal clear call-to-action (CTA): 

When a subscriber opens your newsletter, not only should they find the content valuable, they should also know immediately what action to take, whether it’s to read a blog post linked to your website, register for an event, or make a donation.

Any CTA buttons should be prominent in your email design, with  straightforward copy to help the reader take the desired action.

Here’s a great example from BikeHouston:

Actionable language with links:

It’s best to avoid phrases like “click here” for more. Instead, use other verbs like “read,” “donate,” “subscribe,” “learn,” or “share.”

Short and sweet: Do what you can to drive readers to your website. Consider doing a summary with teases that allow the reader to skim and then dive further into a particular article if it piques their interest. Here’s a good example of how Robert Half, a staffing and recruiting firm, does this:

Make it scannable:

Today we are all bombarded with electronic information. Consider including only three to five articles in your newsletter and organize them in a way that makes sense to the reader, with your most important message at the beginning.

Test and test again: 

One of the best parts of electronic communication is the opportunity you have to test before launch.

Take advantage of this ability to ensure you have multiple eyes on the final product before it goes live to everyone.

How often will you send them?  

Regardless of how your newsletter is delivered, you need to be consistent in its production and release date. You need to commit to a regular schedule to truly engage with your readers.

Newsletters, whether they are printed or emailed, are a labor of love and take significant time to produce.

You need to account for planning the editorial content, writing the articles, editing/revisions, gathering quality photos, corrections, and securing approval.

If the purpose of your newsletter is to keep employees informed, you may want to consider publishing something at least monthly.

If your newsletter is for external audiences, you may want to consider sending it out monthly or quarterly.

Whatever schedule you choose, make sure you are being consistent with your communications and not sporadic. Your audience will anticipate receiving your newsletter and come to expect them on a regular schedule.

What types of articles should your newsletter include? 

When considering the content for your newsletter, you should think about including a message from leadership.

If you are producing a newsletter for employees, especially a Fortune 500 company with hundreds of employees, an article from leadership might serve as one of the only regular touchpoints your team has with the C-suite.

If you are producing a newsletter for an external audience for a nonprofit, for example, you definitely want to include a message from your executive director so that your audience, especially donors, are in tune with and hear from those at the top.

Your newsletter should also include a summary of what is happening at your organization and a list of current activities and events.

It should serve as another way to help grow your social media audience and include a call to action for people to follow your organization on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.

How should you measure success?

The production and distribution of newsletters take dedication and amazing attention to detail, not to mention time and energy.

You want to know that you’re being successful and hitting the mark with your readers.

Even if you choose to do a printed newsletter, you should consider sending a survey to gauge which articles subscribers are reading and what readers would like to see in future issues. 

If you go the digital route, you need to take the following metrics into account:

  • Open-rate: defines “open-rate” as the percentage that tells you how many recipients opened the email. MailChimp analyzed open-rates and found the average across a variety of industries was 21.33%.
  • Click-through rate: MailChimp describes the click-through rate as the percentage of subscribers that took action to click-through to your website. This number reflects whether your audience found your newsletter interesting enough to click through to learn more. The average click-through rate, according to MailChimp, is 2.62%.
  • Bounce-rate: Finally, there’s bounce-rate. Bounces happen when an email can’t be delivered either because the email address is not valid or because a mailbox was too full or temporarily unavailable. A good bounce-rate, according to, is about 7.75% across all industries.

If you want to improve any of these metrics, you may want to revisit your email subject lines and make sure you have up-to-date email addresses for your subscribers.

How to Get More Subscribers

One of the main goals of a newsletter is to grow your community of supporters, advocates, donors, and consumers. Here are a few ideas:  

  • Have a way to capture subscribers at in-person events. You can have an ole’ fashion sign-up sheet, or better yet, an iPad or other digital device to obtain people’s information.
  • Cross-promote your newsletter on Facebook and/or Twitter. Provide a link directly to the sign-up page on your website.
  • Encourage social media sharing in your newsletter.

A Helpful Resource for Readers

A newsletter, whether it be internal or external, is a great way to get in front of your audiences and communicate information you need them to know.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, strong communication within newsletters has been instrumental in staying connected with employees and patients. The goal is to not inundate them—but work towards consolidation and educational information,” says Melissa McDonald, assistant director of marketing and communications for UT Physicians.

“The idea is to pull all of the information into one communication that they can then circle back on if they have questions. We use an external platform to generate our newsletters, so we have trackable information on what people are reading. When you have tracking information, it allows you to hone in on what your consumers want—and your employees.”

How to Write an Email Newsletter That People Will Actually Read

If you have ever been in charge of writing email newsletters, you know that it can be an incredibly frustrating process.

You work hard to try to write an email that contains the important information that you need to convey, yet when you check your open and click rates, it seems that very few people are actually reading what you send.

But, what if there was a way that would ensure that more people would take the time to read what you send?

This helpful blog from HubSpot may be just the tool that you need to write better email newsletters that people will actually want to read.

In the blog, they suggest that you first evaluate whether an email newsletter is actually necessary. This may sound odd, but newsletter campaigns take a lot of work. If it is not going to be an effective tool for your particular business, then it may end up being just a colossal waste of time.

The blog also suggests that you spend some time zeroing in on what kind of email you want to send and what would be the most effective for your target audience. It is important that your email is focused and free of clutter. If your readers have a hard time pinpointing exactly what you want to relay, they will quickly lose interest and stop reading.

Another important aspect is to make sure that your newsletters are not overly self-promotional. Yes, part of the reason that you are sending these newsletters is to benefit your business, but people don’t want to sit down and read an advertisement. Hubspot suggests keeping 90 percent of your newsletter’s content educational, with only 10 percent being promotional.

For more great newsletter tips, be sure to check out Hubspot’s blog. And let us know if you have any great tips of your own!

International Trade Newsletter Series

Local Municipality Newsletter

No one’s a bigger advocate for your company’s newsletter than you. You’ve seen firsthand its role in initiating discussions about trends, innovations, and challenges in your industry — discussions that help establish your people as thought leaders while providing your readers information of real value.

There’s just one hitch: You’re the one responsible for providing the newsletter’s content. Every issue. While you also attempt to coordinate the newsletter planning, design, publication and distribution. And you juggle your other marketing responsibilities. Something has to change.

What if you were to give yourself a promotion from staff writer to your newsletter’s editor-in-chief? The Writers For Hire can assign you an editorial team that will provide the quality copy you need so you can move on to other responsibilities.

Our team has the journalistic and corporate writing experience necessary to ensure clear, accurate, engaging copy for a wide range of readers, from relative newcomers to your field to subject matter experts who are already knowledgeable about the topics you’re covering.

When you work with The Writers For Hire, you have a skilled team of professionals who are dedicated to the success of your publication, giving you the ability to continue producing quality publications on an ongoing basis. And if you’ve been thinking of adding additional features to your publication — from a new column to a special issue devoted to a hot topic in your field — you’ll have the bandwidth to do it.

We help clients by:

  • Making assignments. Our team members have written about oil & gas, IT, education, healthcare, scientific research, human resources, retail, and law, among other areas. We identify writers with the expertise that matches your needs so they can work with interviewees to produce insightful material for your most knowledgeable readers. And, we make sure our writers have a clear understanding of each assignment and your expectations for it.
  • Handling the legwork. Once we receive an article assignment, we’ll reach out to the experts you recommend — and/or find experts on our own — and make arrangements to interview them. We also follow up with them, depending on your policy, to request quote approvals.
  • Completing the entire writing cycle. We handle every step of the writing process, taking articles from outlines to drafts to the final product, based on input from interviewees and your organization.
  • Editing. Every piece we write is reviewed by a senior editor, who also will have journalistic, business. and government writing experience. And after the approval process, another team member, who hasn’t seen the articles, completes a final proofreading.
  • Ensuring quality control. Our staff is there to support you. If you’d like to maintain a list of the subjects you’ve addressed or develop a style guide for your publication, we can take those tasks off your hands.
  • Staying on track. We do whatever is necessary to keep your project moving on schedule, from staying on top of slow-to-respond interviewees to getting edited copy to you on deadline, every time.

Our projects have ranged from eight-page newsletters for community readers to glossy magazines for international audiences. We also can handle eNewsletter projects. We have written newsletter and magazine copy for clients in a wide range of industries, including:

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Thought Leadership

In today’s rapidly moving day and age, business arenas change and evolve all the time. And with all of those transformations and progressions come the want and need for the exchange of ideas, concepts and solutions. The oil and gas industry is no exception. That’s why many companies are incorporating, thought leadership into their business practices. They engage a targeted executive audience with compelling findings dispensed through articles, newsletters, publications and digital media.

Thought leadership revolves around establishing and maintaining a commanding voice about topics of relevance and concern to your target audience. It’s about providing answers to their biggest questions; it’s about addressing the newest hot topics in and offering reliable information—and, perhaps, your own perspective—about those issues. The ultimate goal of employing thought leadership is to establish your company as a leading authority in the world. It’s also a useful way to jump-start relationships where none existed, while enhancing relationships that already exist.

“Our hope is that whoever comes across one of our articles or blog posts will find some value in it,” explains Amal Abdallah, a social media and marketing coordinator for Clover Global Solutions, a Houston-based staffing agency for the industry. “We offer people a new perspective on something, especially if they’re not very familiar with that topic; the written piece sparks interest in the subject and lets people learn more about it.”

Clover’s questions at the end of its blog posts engage readers and spur thought leadership. A recent piece about competence assurance evoked quite a few responses. “It’s a way educate, inform, promote discussion and encourage people to think outside the box,” says Abdallah. “And we’ve been getting some really good responses from people who agree that it’s very important. They then offer their opinions on different types of disciplines within the industry.”

Practicing and disseminating thought leadership has numerous benefits. Besides educating readers about O&G, companies also use it to start new relationships, strengthen existing affiliations, build brand familiarity and form brand loyalty. Thought leadership content also gives companies exposure in their lines of work; it places them in the forefront of—and in a position of authority about—the current conversations and issues in their businesses.

Thought leadership can come from any source: executives, customers, product managers, designers, customer service reps and sales people. Each employee has a unique point of view, as well as valuable knowledge and experience.

AECOM recently tackled the issue of how people with creative minds and spirits can positively influence sustainable communities associated with extraction projects around the world. Paul Fennelly, senior vice president of business development for AECOM Environment business line, was invited by New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture to participate in a panel discussion called Environments of Extraction. Fennelly developed a theme around the concept that most oil & gas exploration and production projects have a finite lifetime of 25 years, and one can think of them as having a discrete beginning, middle and end. Fennelly’s contributions to the panel resulted in some lively discussion about the future of fossil fuels and how the audience can learn more about sustainability issues surrounding large scale extraction.

Cardno, which has been providing services to clients ranging from global corporations to local specialized companies for more than 30 years, recently answered some of these questions regarding Australia: What’s the economic outlook for the industry in Australia, and what opportunities are there for growth?; Do you foresee continued growing demand for across international markets?; and, What are the top environmental concerns relating to the industry, and how can they be addressed?

Cardno experts Paul Webber (sector leader – Energy, Australia and New Zealand) and Anthony Lane (senior principal – Cardno Lane Piper) provided some valuable insights into this escalating sector.

And BP has addressed the topics of personal health and safety, readiness in case of an oil spill, sharing and embedding lessons learned from major accidents and managing the impact on protected wildlife

“Our thought leadership topics go with what the trends of the industry are,” says Clover Global Solutions’ Abdallah. “For example, if somebody is looking for a position in oil and gas, we address the best city to live if you want to work in that field and where the hot spots for oil in America are. In another example, we had a blog post that talked about some of the steps you can take if your company is being acquired by another and you might be losing your job.”

Clover believes that people seek out thought leadership because O&G is an incredibly dynamic industry that requires you to stay not only with game but also ahead of the game.

Abdallah sums up the role that thought leadership plays in her company’s 2014 plans: “We want our end result to be to find somebody who may be interested in working for Clover or who is interested in acquiring Clover as a client. Ultimately, though, we want to be sure that we can always offer intuitive and informative and educational blog articles as thought leadership so that we keep that level of integrity and professionalism.”



Thought Leadership 101

Writing a compelling thought leadership piece begins with the development of a topic. But if that first step seems like a big leap, take heart: Here’s some advice to clear the way and help you create a topic that will resonate with your readers.

  • Thought leadership is an entry point to a relationship. A successful thought leadership article will intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people who are familiar with a company. It will help start a relationship where none exists and enhance existing relationships.
  • Being an expert on something doesn’t automatically make you a thought leader. Thought leaders have a knack for sharing knowledge.
  • Thought leadership requires an immediate information outlet, such as a blog, that allows you to comment quickly on news and changing circumstances in your field.
  • Your thought leadership article should deliver answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your audience. Remember: The audience determines what the questions are. Keep the “I” out of your article as much as possible and focus on “You.”
  • How do you know what’s on your audience’s mind? Ask! If possible, query your readers directly. But if that’s not possible, you can follow the example of an international oilfield services company that is embarking on a thought leadership campaign. They surveyed key managers who are close to customers to get a sense of what the customers are thinking.
  • Some of the questions the company asked its managers were:
    • What are the most pressing concerns of the oil and gas operators you talk to? What do they want to do better/smarter/more profitably?
    • What have they been surprised to find out? What areas do they wish they knew more about or felt more competent about?
    • What are the questions they ask you?
    • What have you been asked to consult with operators about?
  • Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, ask yourself if the topic you’re considering:
    • addresses a timely issue
    • offers new insight
    • identifies an issue that readers might not even know about
    • is interesting, provocative, or even counter intuitive
  • Your thought leadership article should be educational, but it’s OK to also be entertaining. In fact, nothing turns most readers off faster than a dry, rote lecture. Include stories and examples that bring the topic to life.
  • Include facts from credible, unbiased sources.
  • Tell readers what to do. Seriously. Provide a practical, achievable call to action.

How to Remember to Compliment or Complement

Ok, so I admit. I always have to look this one up. I finally figured out a way to remember it.

When you complEment something, you are complEting it. As in, your bracelet complements your blouse.

When you compliment someone, you’re just saying something nice about them.

Now, if I can just figure out a way to remember principle vs. principal….

Got any good tricks to share on remembering homophones?