What drives a successful online newsletter? The sponsor’s choices or the reader’s interests? For the people producing these newsletters, it’s often a dilemma. Do the work that the client wants and get a boring outcome? Or do the work that you believe is needed and spend twice the time convincing the client? Or leave?
Running a company newsletter is a serious undertaking, not least because you need to respect a publishing schedule (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly) and ensure that your content is interesting and compelling for your target audiences.
The main problem is that there are often two separate agendas at work for creating such e-newsletters (and printed versions too). These may often be in conflict.
The sponsor’s agenda
In simple terms, this can be described as “We pay the bills so do what we want“. The sponsor/client has a view about what should appear in the newsletter and often it concerns largely internal matters – staff promotions and staff events; updates about the company’s performance; news concerning the company.
All this is fine so long as nobody expects the newsletter to be sent to outsiders. However producing a newsletter is a lengthy and costly business and so naturally one would expect to offer it to as wide a reading public as possible.
The producer’s agenda
In simple terms, this can be described as “I’m the marketing communications professional. Give me the freedom to prepare material that will interest outside audiences”. The producer treats the newsletter as a newspaper and seeks a good balance between internal and external subjects.
Let’s assume that a hotel agrees to name its newsletter ‘Meeting & Conference Success‘ and not ‘Grand Plaza Hotel News‘. So, while some of the stories will be about the Grand Plaza, there need to be other stories about the wider field. Even ‘internal’ stories need to be prepared with an eye at the ‘outside’ audience.
What happens when the sponsor wants to have the image of an industry-specific newsletter but insists on content that suits an internal newsletter? When the report of low readership figures and click-throughs comes in, how can the level of media interest be equated with the production costs?
At some point the sponsor will say “All this is costing us too much. We’re not getting any new business as a result of our newsletter activity.”
Should the producer keep delivering a product at odds with its declared aims? Or should he/she relinquish the project?
When an e-newsletter is successful and long-lived, agendas do not clash.