So everyone in your club thinks it’s a good idea to start a newsletter, and you have been “volunteered” to be newsletter editor. You say, “Why not, it could be fun! But, how do I get started?” To help, here are some pointers to begin publishing a good club newsletter.
1. Pick a newsletter name. A simple and democratic way is to solicit name suggestions from club members and vote from the collected list. Do this as a brainstorming activity at your next club meeting to get everyone involved and interested.
2. Include the club’s logo. If you don’t have a logo, here is another chance to involve members. Have a contest and vote on submissions. Offer a winner’s prize – members can be very creative when vying for a free milkshake or chocolates.
3. Decide on the layout for the club newsletter. Basic word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, Mac OSX, or using Linux’s Wine compatibility layer, can be used to create a professional looking newsletter. They are easy to navigate, have good help menus and offer useful templates for beginners. With these or similar programs, you can choose among color schemes, split columns, wrap pictures with text, format the cover page, and add Word Art, tables, pictures, clip art or charts.
If you are knowledgeable with advanced publishing programs – or want to learn – they offer even more functionality and diverse newsletter creation. Either way is fine. After all, this is a new volunteer-based club newsletter. Club members just will be thankful that it’s being published.
4. Determine the distribution and length of the newsletter. Remember, it always takes more time than you think. Plan accordingly. First, determine how often you will publish the newsletter, and stick to the schedule. Second, start with a simple format and limited number of pages. Set up a boilerplate with key ingredients from the newsletter content (see #5), and save it.
5. Select newsletter content. Start with pertinent membership news. Review last meeting activities and list future meeting topics. Insert photos of club activities. Include and update a calendar of events. Include member news – illnesses, vacations, births, awards, etc. – and always spell members’ names correctly. If you have time and room, member profiles with pictures are a nice addition. Add interest through pictures, cartoons, clip art and jokes. Remember to include the basics: contact information, club history and purpose, meeting location, meeting dates, publishing information, number and date of the newsletter. Sidebar: Don’t overlook inclusion of advertising from club members, local businesses or suppliers. It’s an extra way for the club to make money.
6. Delegate writing and information-gathering tasks. Encourage other members to contribute. It saves you time and fosters membership involvement. Ask club officers to contribute regular column articles, then hold them to the deadline.
7. Accept the responsibilities of an editor. If you write an editor’s column, use it wisely to pass on information and club matters. Keep it light-hearted.
When you receive articles, edit them. Everyone has great ideas, but are not always trained writers. It’s your job to make them look good, while keeping the original ideas intact. When using article and photo submissions, be sure to give byline credit.
With permission, use information gathered from other club or organization newsletters. It adds depth to the content, as well as good will. Remember copyright laws and get written approval to reprint articles from any other sources. This includes cartoons and other artwork.
Very important: When the newsletter is completed, ask someone else to proofread the entire newsletter. Then save it.
8. Distribute the newsletter. Make it easy. Nearly everyone has email, so send it out electronically. Include all your members, other clubs, interested people who have requested the newsletter, and club-related businesses.
When you’re ready to send out the newsletter, convert to PDF format. PDF files are smaller to send and easier to read. Use the group listing in your email address book to send, and be sure to keep the addresses updated. If you have any members who don’t use email, print a copy and send it by postal service, take a copy to the next meeting or post it on the club bulletin board.
9. Remember to have fun. Creating club newsletters tends to be a labor of love, and you want to keep that love fresh. Keep reminding yourself that you are doing this because it’s fun!
Your involvement in this process is very important. Newsletter editor is a key position in any club. Good club newsletters facilitate membership communication and growth, help validate club identity, and enhance community presence. As editor of your club newsletter, enjoy the creative process and take pride in your contribution.