Newsletter Success Ideas (long)
Derleth, Michael (mderleth@CZN.COM)
Mon, 10 Feb 1997 08:05:43 -0500
Allow me to share the key ideas from my March 1996 presentation
on Newsletters to the Ouachita Valley Council, Pioneer Dist.
Roundtable. These ideas come from five years worth of newsletters
for troops in three states.
Before: I asked for samples from others. Nothing like a pile of
"ideas" for participants to pull through.
First: Determine your audience. Then write -to- that audience.
Scouts will typically hear details in meetings. Therefore, it's
often -parents- that are the main audience. There should be some
'kid content' so that the youth have an incentive to read, but
they're probably not the primary reason.
Second: Determine a schedule, and make -SURE- it's one you can
stick to. Start out quarterly or bi-monthly. You can always
publish more often, but you must stick to the schedule if it is
to become an expected, anticipated, used part of the program.
Third: Make it topical. When I first started writing news for a
radio station in Wisconsin, the news director told me that "old
news is like dead fish...they all stink after the third day."
In short, try and write as many "upcoming" articles as you can.
If mom and dad want to know what happened on last months campout,
they've probably already asked junior --and heard the "unvarnished"
truth. Last month's campout is fine. the December Christmas COH,
well, who cares anymore.
You can also include gear selection tips, items from your council
newsletter, ecology info or other items that are not strictly
BSA, but do apply to our program. Just be mindful of copyright
and always attribute your articles.
Fourth: Make it interesting. Include a calendar with troop member
birthdays, maybe a cartoon (Far Side does many outdoors kind of
things), use pictures or appropriate clip art (like the BSA
collection at your Scout Office) Use one of the many inexpensive
DTP programs to spice things up.
Fifth: You have a troop Scribe for a reason. Let the Scouts do
as much of the newsletter as possible. Maybe one of them already
has a computer and DTP program. Scouts should be able to write
much of each issue once they are "motivated". This can be as
simple as seeing their name in print once or twice. In the case
of the troop Scribe (or Scribes), newsletter writing can be part
of their "official" duties.
NOTE: Edit scout contributions sparingly if at all. Much of the
pride and motivation that comes from their name in print is lost
if they can't recognize the article after that.
Finally: In addition to a table full of newsletter samples from
across the country, I also provided a disk with a Demo copy of
an inexpensive DTP program I recommend, and some sources of clip
art. (always give the Roundtable attendees something to take home)
Michael Derleth MDerleth@CZN.COM
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City