How to: Spring-clean your newsletter

Church newsletters, are, arguably, one of the most difficult documents to put together in a church. It requires gathering information from a range of different people in different formats, then squashing all of the text onto the page so that everything fits in perfectly, and still looks remotely readable. Then there’s still the printing/folding/stapling process. It’s a lot. 

So, after all this work, you really hope that people appreciate and use the newsletter. It is beyond frustrating when you walk around after church and see that most people have left theirs on their seat. 

The best thing we can do to combat this, and make a readable, functional and useful newsletter, is to give it a little bit of a spring-clean! Today we’re talking about spring-cleaning the text, so stay tuned….

Feel like listening instead of reading?

Cut the unnecessary 

Straight up, I can say that I’ve seen a lot of newsletters with the word ‘Notices’ up top. While you may think its important to say what is underneath, it is really just stating the obvious! You don’t need to say this, so cut it. Take this as an example, and cast an eye over your whole newsletter. Are you constantly stating the obvious? Be absolutely brutal in cutting words. Two words are better than three. One word is better than two. This will help you streamline the function of your newsletter. 

Think about the importance of the information

Everyone thinks that their event is the most important. But I’m afraid not all events are created equal when deciding on positioning and number of words required in a newsletter. 

A general rule of thumb is to think about the number of people affected by the event. If it is an article by the pastor for the whole church, it should have prime position and more space. If it is the details of the women’s Tuesday night Bible study, it can easily be tucked away in the corner. 

Remember who, what, when, where, why

Back in primary school, I think most people had to recite the mantra, ‘Who?, what?, when?, where?, why?’, and subsequently answer those questions in their story. It’s a simple point, but make sure you’ve answered these questions when writing about an event before you send your newsletter to the printing press! It will save you scribbling on them in pen later on. 

If you grab a copy of my advertisement template above it will help your audience to access the information in a logical way, and they can easily refer back to it later without reading a huge paragraph!

Avoid over-explaining

Sometimes when inviting people to events in newsletters we can get super-wordy, and over-explain the entire event. When advertising an event in your newsletter, you should give a short, one-sentence explanation or invitation, then give the details in an invitation format. 

Let me show you an example: 

DON’T

CWA WEEKEND CONVENTION - FOR ‘SUCH A TIME AS THIS’
Friday 18 and Saturday 19 June 2016 at Farmbridge School, Alison Ave, Marden. Friday 7:45pm, Saturday first session 9am, second session 11am, third session 2pm. Cost: Friday & Saturday: $60, Friday night only: $25, Saturday only: $50 (includes morning tea and light lunch). Pre-registration essential. See the registration form on the notice board. For further information contact Carol, phone 0400 000 000. 

DO

For such a time as this…
CWA Weekend Convention
Need to hit refresh? This convention is run by women, for women, and will help you dig deeper into the truths of Esther, and find God’s calling on your life.
When: 18-19 June
Time: Friday from 6:30pm, Saturday from 9am
Where: Farmbridge School, Marden
Cost: $60 for the whole weekend
For more: Check the notice board or contact Carol on 0400 000 000. 

The ‘don’t’ example was actually taken from a real newsletter, however the places and names have been changed for privacy. The strange thing is, I have managed to say a lot more, in a more readable way, and with less fluff. 

The trick is to realise when you’re over-explaining. In the example, it was completely unnecessary to explain the costs and times for each section of the convention. Of course, this information might interest one or two people, but they can easily find the information by checking the notice board or contacting Carol. Thankfully, you don’t need to completely clutter your newsletter just ‘in case’ someone can’t make it to the entirety of a convention! This will give you much more freedom to cut down on words, making your newsletter much more user-friendly.

Avoid long URLs

URLs are another name for your website address, which are really useful for people to have, but can take up a lot of room on your newsletter. A quick way to fix this is to delete the ‘http://www.' from your URL.

http://www.saltsociety.org=  saltsociety.org

This will give you the same result when you type it in, and just looks a little cleaner, while saving you space! 

If you have an incredibly long URL that you want to add in, you can make a new, shorter URL using bit.ly

Choose one point of contact 

I used to think that it made sense to give people as many different options as possible to contact, in case they preferred one over the other, and then another person preferred contacting a different way, etc. I also thought it made the event look really official and put together if you had the information in lots of different formats. 

Boy, was I wrong! 

When you give someone contact details, its like giving them a call-to-action (or CTA). If you haven’t heard of CTAs before, they are simply what you ask someone to do when they’ve finished reading your content. So, when you’ve finished reading this blog post, I’ll probably ask you to join my resource library, where you can get access to even more information on church communications. Rather than working really hard to get you to stay on my website and then giving you nothing more, I’m telling you what you can do next to stay in touch. That, my friends, is a Call To Action. 

So, say you’ve convinced someone to come to your event through your little notice in your newsletter; what do they do next? 

It will probably be some form of contact - either visiting the website, or chasing someone down after church, or standing on their head…I’m sure you get what I mean! What I recommend is to give them just one point of contact. 

This is because we humans are incredibly daft sometimes. It has been repeatedly proven by marketing scientists around the world that we need to be told exactly what to do. So, by giving them just one email address, they know exactly what they need to do. If you give them an email address and a phone number, they then have to decide what to do, which takes effort, and then eventually, they’ll most likely end up doing nothing. 

Which point of contact do I choose?

It really comes down to what the event is about and who it is for. When in doubt, choose to give an email address. Almost everyone has an email address, and can send an email without the fear or embarrassment that might come from a phone call or interrupting someone’s coffee after church.

I hope these quick tips have helped you spring-clean your newsletter! Don’t forget you can pick up your template for the perfect event advertisement from below. 

Happy decluttering!