If you currently run an employee print newsletter and want to move to an electronic version consider the following tips to make your publication more relevant, improve readership and champion change.
While employee newsletters are still considered an important channel, print publications are gradually falling out of favor. Paucity of time, evolving demographics, changing reader habits and the growth of mobile are a few of the factors influencing the need to move to a web based platform.
Will employees miss the print version? Is the online version more effective? What do employees expect of an e-zine? How can you sustain interest in your organization’s e-zine? These and many other questions may cross your mind while considering a transition.
- Seek feedback and gather insights: Ask your employees if they prefer an electronic version and what they expect to be different from the print edition. If you don’t already have insights which you can delve into, run a survey or do focus groups to gain perspectives on content, relevance and value employees derive currently. Reflect on what will work best depending on your employees’ profiles, distribution across locations and geographies and diversity.
- Build a strong business case: It does seem intuitive that an online version will be beneficial for employees and the organization. However, unless you share the rationale to back your thinking such decisions can soon be undone. Spot the tangible and intangible benefits. Among the former are reduction in print costs, wider reach, quicker access to information and ability to measure the value of communication while the latter can include contribution to the feeling of pride, belongingness and personal branding. Look at the newsletter as a way to unify your organization – by increasing cross-business learning and appreciation, exchanging ideas and building a ‘boundaryless’ entity.
- Refresh the model: A print version needs a different approach to sourcing content, publishing and measuring impact. With an online version you will need to make it simpler and easier for the team to produce the editions and creating reusable templates – unless of course, you are outsourcing your newsletter to an agency. Word of caution: what works in print won’t work online – shorter headlines, crisp messages, images that tell stories and greater opportunities to offer feedback are expected from an online version. What can however work is a model where the content resides on a central platform and the e-zine links to the content either via e-mail or a mobile application which pushes information on-demand. Online content is easier to search in case employees miss the e-mail or the mobile notification. Measuring views and downloads are simple ways to ascertain with an analytics tool and it is easier to report insights from data you gather.
- Communicate the change: Explain the ‘why’ behind the move. Give employees time to accept the change and partner on the transformation. Demonstrate how the change will improve communication, enhance information accessibility and help employees feel more connected with your business. Be mindful of older employees – who may prefer to read a print version. Create a PDF version for those who still prefer to print and read.
- Co-create content: Involve passionate employees as content contributors. The success of an employee newsletter hinges on how involved employees are. Form an extended team of content writers, editors and ‘internal’ journalists. Give them ownership for sections on your e-zine. This will mean ‘letting go’ of control – often tough for communicators to accept. For example, have them curate content, interview leaders and teams and come back with stories from the trenches. Remember to recognize their contributions – by giving bylines, adding them as part of your editorial board or informing their managers when they make progress with initiatives that impact the newsletter.
- Define your measures of success: The litmus test for the newsletter is to gauge your employees’ participation levels in contributing content and their engagement with the organization. Apart from measuring the newsletter’s ability to reach essential information and business perspectives in a timely manner you can also evaluate if employees feel connected to and committed with the organization’s goals.
Have other ideas which worked for you? Do share them here.