Every company newspaper editor is bound to have trouble producing content for an issue or two at some point.
Even well-established publications have difficulty filling their pages from time to time. There’s no need to fret. There are plenty of easy ways to keep your newsletter fresh and engaging. Take a quick look at the content types below and consider what’s right for the tone of your newsletter.
Many employee newsletters are designed to inform readers about the latest happenings in the company and industry. You may find it easy to produce a couple of hot-button topics, then get stuck for anything else to say because it seems boring or obvious. Employees do want to know what is going on in their field right now. Young, developing professionals need wisdom and knowledge of new trends; mid-career workers are still looking for how to advance while balancing family and making sure they are planning well for their futures; older employees want to know what they need to do stay on top of things, seamlessly pass their roles into others’ hands, and successfully retire. Include topics like:
- Changes to your organization, including leadership changes
- Current company initiatives
- Developments in products or services
- New partnerships or business deals
- Breaking industry trends and how your company has or will play a part in them
- Infographics with company sales numbers or industry trends
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) — If you’ve boosted your on-time delivery from 80% to 85% for this month, congratulate your team. If your client retention and growth rates are in line with your goalsâ€”or notâ€”let your employees know how they’ve been doing.
- Upcoming business and industry events like trade shows and workshops — These may be hosted, attended, or sponsored by your company. They may also just be in your area or a big deal for your industry, though you are not participating.
- Recordings or summaries of recent events and workshops so employees who missed out can still take part
- Short business report summaries
- Media mentions of your company
- Award announcements or competition entries — Describe what the company did or needs to do to win the award, whether you have won it before, and who sponsors it.
- News from competitors
- Newest customer survey results
- Any changes to or reminders about employee benefits plans
- Relevant safety reminders — Share reminders when accidents happen, or congratulate your team on a long stretch of time without a workplace injury. Consider a per issue safety tip.
- Frequently asked questions and answers
- Articles that reinforce company culture and mission
- Messages from company leaders — This allows employees to read all relevant information in one place instead of receiving separate emails from leadership or visiting their websites or blogs.
- Column from CEO or president — Maybe they want to publish regularly or only occasionally have a message to share. Either way, this lets them speak directly to all employees and boosts newsletter readership.
- Vacant positions, qualifications, and application procedures
- Updates on parking, meeting room reservations, break room use, etc.
- Industry book and article reviews — Ask staff members to volunteer to contribute these to help others know what industry information they might find relevant and helpful to their daily life and what might not be worth the read.
- Links to insightful industry-related podcasts and blogs — Include some highlights from recent episodes or posts to foster interest.
- Nonprofits and causes the company supports
- Any professional development or classes available to employees — These may be company-hosted events or subsidized workshops. Also use the newsletter to help employees understand any benefits they get from the company for higher education in their field.
- A list of industry myths, misconceptions, or dos and don’ts
- Teachable industry moments — Whenever your company or another company in the industry makes a mistake, use it as a learning tool. Have appropriate staff write or make a video about what went wrong and why, what could have been done to prevent it, and what steps you will take moving forward.
- Local news that affects your company
- Relevant world news and how it interacts with your industry or company goals
- Customer success stories — Remind your employees why they do what they do, especially if you have a lot of non-customer facing staff. If they don’t interact much with customers, they may not see the impact of their work. Show them through customer case studies.
If your newsletter is mostly for social purposes between your staff members, you probably use a lot of employee-driven content already. This includes articles like staff features and anniversaries, updates on employee service and social events, and other news that affects employees’ personal lives more so than their professional performances. Perhaps your newsletter is mostly information-driven, but you aren’t quite hitting your word count or readership goals; consider using some employee-driven content from this list to boost interest quickly.
- Upcoming social events — Don’t just say where and when, but how to help plan, information about the organizers, or history of the event if it’s an office tradition.
- Reviews of recent social events — Tell how many attended, highlights of the evening, and plans for similar events in the future.
- Wellness program information and/or a per issue wellness tip.
- Guest columns — Ask a different staff member each issue to share their favorite hobbies, vacation destinations, books, movies, games, relaxation techniques, or anything else about themselves that may be unique (and appropriate for work).
- Themed articles to go along with community events and holidays
- Spotlighting employee success and demonstration of company values — Don’t forget to announce any speeches or events employees give or participate in.
- Staff work milestones — Include promotions, anniversaries, sales records, etc.
- Personal announcements — Discuss employee life milestones when they want to share them, such as marriages, births, child achievements, and whatever else makes sense for your staff culture.
- Company and local discounts and offers
- Highlight neighboring small businesses — Especially if those businesses support your company.
- Welcome messages for new staff and goodbyes to those leaving
- Inside information on your closest clients and customers — Of course, don’t share anything confidential, but this may be appropriate when business relationships become nearly personal due to length and frequency.
- Useful apps and products for business and work/life balance
- Recipes — Share a dish based on a theme. Seasonal, healthy, made for one, diabetic-friendly, vegan, gluten-free, or just plain delicious. Ask for reader submissions, find them online, or use your own favorites. Challenge employees to make the recipe and bring it in to work to share. The first to do so with the tastiest results could win a prize.
- Recent and upcoming volunteer projects — Describe the impact the projects and organizations make on your community. Add information on independent volunteering with each organization.
- Upcoming deadlines, registration dates, etc.
- Most popular company social media pictures and posts from the week or month
- Inspirational quotes — Use some general ones as well as some industry-specific ones. Request employee favorites.
- Executive feature — Let team members get to know a different member of management each issue through an interview session.
- Team member spotlight — Give employees the chance to shine by interviewing someone new each week for a look at their day-to-day life. If they seem reluctant to open up, keep the interview short.
- How-to articles — Perhaps respond to how-to questions that readers asked when surveyed (see next section)
- Education corner — What’s something you read online that amazed you? Share with your coworkers, and ask them to share in future issues. You can also make this feature industry-themed.
Similar to employee-driven content, reader-driven content consists of elements like surveys, quizzes, and requests for submissions from those employees who actually take the time to read the newsletter. Because it is interactive by nature, reader-driven content gets employees involved in the newsletter and makes them more likely to become repeat readers. They want to see the articles or results from survey in which they participated published in the next issueâ€”and maybe a few other headlines catch their eye while they’re scanning. Here are some ideas to fuel your reader-driven engines right now:
- Contests — This can range from trivia or brain teaser competitions for which you simply announce the winners in the next issue to larger employee competitions with prizes. Even without a prize budget, you could allow winners to wear clothes out of the dress code for a day, choose the next competition topic, or be featured in the next newsletter.
- Surveys — Ask your readers what is important to them in their newsletter and in their workplace. If you are not sure what to ask, find out what information your management would like or ask some employees what kinds of things they would like to see change so you can see if others agree.
- Polls — Much shorter than surveys, so it fills in that tiny bit of space you have left in the corner of your page. Ask what snack readers would most like to see in the break room or their favorite character on the newest season of This Is Us. Post the results in the next issue.
- Letters to the editor or comments sections
- Staff written product reviews for home and work life
- Employee pet or family pictures — You could simply label them, or turn it into a contest for others to guess whose pet or child it is. A classic â€œguess the baby pictureâ€ contest works too, where employees submit pictures of their younger selves.
- Vacation photos from employees — Ask them to caption their snapshots and share recommendations with coworkers who might plan a trip to the same destination.
- Leisure activity photos from employees — Let employees send in pictures of themselves doing things that make them proud. Maybe hunting, surfing, or attending a baseball game with their familyâ€”anything they’d like to show off with a caption explaining the who/what/when/where.
- Reader submitted articles — Allow employees to send in articles themselves. You may set up certain guidelines for length or topic or make it a completely open forum. You may promise to publish anything that is submitted or review and edit submissions first. Either way, with enough employee interest, you will have an active newsletter and a prolific staff.
If you are looking to provide staff with a quick break or giggle, consider including some entertainment content in your newsletter, such as a puzzle or a joke. You can help lighten the mood around the office, relieving the stress that often builds throughout the days. Consistently including something fun gives employees an enjoyable element of the newsletter to look forward to, which keeps them reading it. Choose a favorite from this list, or switch it up to keep things exciting.
- Past news — Share â€œOn This Dayâ€ 100 years ago, 50 years ago, and/or 25 years ago, etc. from newspapers in your city; or, share interesting tidbits of company history as far back as it goes.
- Jokes — This is a good piece to make interactive as well, asking different employees for their favorite work-appropriate knee-slappers to share each issue.
- Puzzles — Crosswords are popular, and you can use this free online crossword generator to make one with customized words. Sudoku and word searches can also be found online for free.
- Found Funny — Include anything you or your employees see that tickles the funny bone, whether it’s a humorous typo, sign, meme, or license plate. This is a great area for a competition, too!
- Fun holidays — July 30 is National Cheesecake Day and Tell a Joke Day is August 16. Check out this calendar for a fun holiday almost every day of the year.
- Movie trivia — You might quiz readers on the origin of a movie quote, the release year or director of a movie, or make them name a movie from a short clip or still frame. Be creative.
That’s it! You’re ready to fill your newsletter with quality content. Also keep in mind these elements of a successful employee publication:
- Your readers are your reason. While you may need to include certain content according to management’s wishes, you ultimately need to include what gets employees’ attention.
- Sound like people. Use a conversational tone, not overly formal or casual. Don’t explain business jargon if your only readers are employees who will definitely understand it, but don’t use so much technical talk that it’s unreadable.
- Write respectfully. Don’t share insulting or embarrassing information, even as a joke, because readers may not take it that way. You never know who will end up reading your words.
- Stick to the important stuff, not everything you can think of. Especially if it’s an email, there’s no reason to cram it full of information or articles that no one needs or wants. Building a reputation as a useful and meaningful newsletter is more important than being a long one. And if you don’t have enough to say to publish daily or weekly, try monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, or on an irregular schedule.
- Be honest, even when it’s hard. Sometimes companies hit rough patches, and employees will have more respect for leadersâ€”and newsletter editorsâ€”who address the issue head-on.
- Don’t bury the lead. Put the main points of a story near the beginning so readers can scan it and decide whether to read on without becoming bored or frustrated.
- Use visual elements wisely. A few photos, graphics, or videos strategically placed can catch the eye and break up the monotony of text, but too many become cluttered and make scrolling through the main parts of stories overly difficult. This blog post from January 2018 says sparse visual elements and heavy text are becoming trendier in newsletter emails. Either way, just make sure your readers enjoy your style.