There’s no doubt that printed church newsletters and e-newsletters can be a church’s most valuable form of communications. You have the opportunity to engage with your congregation and deliver special messages, outline events and include additional information beyond worship announcements. An effective newsletter follows some basic style guidelines and grabs the reader’s attention. It’s important to consider what voice and message you want to convey in your publications. Maybe you’re going for a tone that’s conversational and accessible, or perhaps you want something that’s more formal in tone. Make sure you have a big picture vision for your newsletters before you dive into the details.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 simple tips to keep in mind to make your newsletter an effective communication tool:
1. Keep style consistent. Being uniform in the overall look of your newsletter helps create a branded piece. This “brand” makes it easier for your audience to easily recognize your publication. Consider adopting a font and color scheme that remain consistent throughout each issue, in addition to a style sheet to ensure that the writing style – and voice – are identifiable with your church. You can check out the diocesan style sheet here.
2. Include dates. One of the first things your congregation is going to look for in a newsletter are dates for upcoming events. Create an easy, identifiable calendar of events.
3. Report, but also tell stories. What big things are coming up? What classes are you offering? What are your ministries? It’s important to report the details to those who may not be “in the know” in all areas. But don’t forget that your publications are also an opportunity to share the stories of your parishioners and your congregation.
4. Engage. It’s easy enough to include the same announcements from the most recent Sunday worship service. If you want to engage your audience, consider including a special letter from the rector or a light, fun interview with a staff or vestry member.
5. Be concise. People are busy and limited on time. Keep articles short and to the point. Convey information in as few of words as possible.
6. Ask for action. A newsletter is the perfect place to outline opportunities for parishioners to get involved. And having a call to action is a great way to gauge whether or not folks are actually reading your publications.
7. Be Direct. Does your newsletter include your address, phone, email, website, Facebook, Twitter and blog information? Direct links are particularly important in electronic communications. Make sure you are directing people to all the ways they can connect with you, so that they can pick and choose what works best for them.
8. Be creative. A newsletter can be a fun, engaging way to connect with parishioners. Is there someone at church who could contribute a monthly cartoon or photograph? Including parishioners in your communications creates an interactive experience.
9. Say no to clip art. If possible, it’s always best to include actual photographs of people, places and events.
10. Focus on layout. Organize articles logically, and use eye-catching headlines. The most important pieces should be at the top, and the calendar should be easy to find. Use pictures and space to break up a text-heavy page.
Does your church use a printed newsletter or e-newsletter? Any additional tips to add?