How to optimize your internal newsletter

The best ways to get your audience to read your material.

When you work in internal communications and you’ve got news to share, it’s undoubtedly wise to organize your content words and distribute it in a streamlined newsletter. But what if, as employees do in so many cases, they just skip right over it as another extraneous email in their inbox?

Whether or not you want to admit it, you’ve undoubtedly run into newsletters that are boring, staid looking or just simply not deemed not worth your valuable time. Luckily, there are strategies that can help boost engagement on your internal newsletters and most importantly, get your people the information they need.

Find out what matters to your employees.

Internal newsletters are for your organization’s employees, so it should come as no big surprise that the content found within them should focus on their interests. Put simply, it’s our job as communicators to give them the vital information that will both help them perform their jobs better and make them feel like they’re part of a larger culture at work. Think about what matters to them within their role. Are there continuing education courses or seminars available that would help them become better at their jobs? Think about including links to them. Do they want to feel more connected to the company as a whole? Highlight social events the team has and work to show that there’s a positive culture they can aspire to be a bigger part of.

It’s not a tough formula — if you’re just blasting out facts and figures that don’t always apply to your team, you’re not likely to garner a whole lot of interest. If you try to personalize things a bit, your chances of success in reaching people will improve greatly.

Show off your people — and their diverse perspectives.

When employees at your company are doing special things, an internal newsletter is a great way to let the rest of the organization know about their accomplishments. One of the best ways to help build a great cultural foundation is to showcase the things they’re capable of achieving at your organization. When there are promotions earned and awards received, consider posting about them. They’ll show that the organization really cares about the advancement of career goals. Additionally, consider posting about people’s personal milestones, such as weddings or birth announcements. They’ll show the human side of the organization and create a forum for others in the company to respond with well wishes.

In addition, it’s important to consider your company’s diversity communication efforts when putting together the internal newsletter. Work to highlight potential DE&I initiatives such as Women’s History Month events or any company engagements there might be for Pride Month, for instance. Modern organizations are a rich tapestry of perspectives, and the newsletter should be a reflection of those perspectives.

Open the door to feedback and highlight resources.

One of the best ways to keep the flow of ideas going for your internal newsletter is unbelievably simple — just ask! Your newsletter should function as a resource in which employees are able to ask questions and have their concerns addressed in an ideal world. Consider adding either wording at the end of a section that directs to a response form for your readers, or just having a “suggestion box” sort of section within the newsletter itself. This way, you’re able to hear directly about what concerns your readers have and the material they want to see.

Additionally, a great newsletter will point employees to wellness resources they can use to help better themselves both inside and outside the office. Here at Ragan we’ve written extensively about the mental health impacts of the pandemic and its effects on people’s work situations have had over the past several years. Remember to include content like any access the company provides to mental health resources or other wellness programs the organization touts for its employees, as these easily slip from the minds of busy people.

While there’s no one right way to construct the perfect internal newsletter, there are certainly some guidelines that can be followed that increase the chances you’ll have of successfully reaching your target audience. When you do, you’re not only providing them with the information they need but making their workplace actively better.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


4 Responses to “How to optimize your internal newsletter”

    Amanda Hamilton-Attwell says:

    Have you done any recent research about printed and online newsletters? The responses I get indicate that people are so “screened out” that they scroll over newsletter, thinking they will get back to it later, but never do. On the other hand they feel they can take the printed newsletter home or read it while having coffee or taking a break. Unfortunately printing newsletters is expensive and not environmentally friendly!

      Justin Joffe says:

      We have some data points about how communicators use newsletters internally in an upcoming research report, but no dedicated questions. Happy to consider a dedicated newsletter question or section for a future report. Thanks for your feedback! – JJ

    Heather Shelby says:

    I was going to ask something similar… I was wondering if there was any advice about an email newsletter vs. an internal Facebook group style platform. I would prefer NOT facebook for obvious reasons but maybe there is something different. Currently, we send our newsletters 1x a month and it’s LONG. Daily Headlines

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