Do You Need to Do Background Research First?
If you're going to write a newsletter for someone else, you need to understand their business first. In my last newsletter assignment, not being an expert on the the printing business, I started by asking the clients to supply information that could quickly acquaint me with what they do. I requested they send me printing trade papers, yearbooks, and highlights of their own correspondence, preferably pitch letters.
After reading the background information, draw up a list of questions. Ask:
Structure a Table of Contents
In developing a table of contents,think like an editor: Try to assemble a diverse and lively assortment of newsworthy pieces. Some articles can be long, others short. All need to be different in tone and content. How can you start?
Think of all the elements you see in a newspaper:
Now, adapt this mix to your subject matter.You don't have to write the full story at first. Just come up with headlines that reflect the content that will follow. Then map out which items will go on each page of the newsletter.Once you know the editorial line-up, it's time to start writing.
Unless your newsletter is oversize, assume you'll have room for 3-6 items per page. Some as short as a sentence or two might look good in a bigger typeface, set as a pullquote or "factoid."
If you include photos or illustrations, you won't have as much room for text. But images will help attract your readers' attention. Take advantage of that fact by making sure every image has a caption.
Issue I, Volume I
If you're starting your first issue, devote a column to introducing your newsletter and telling readers its mission and frequency. Include background on your own credentials and your business services. This can later be edited down and used as "boilerplate" copy that goes on the bottom of every issue.
Some newsletters carry mastheads, others just a return address. If promoting your name is important to you -- or you'd like to give credit to anyone who helped you with the newsletter -- list them in the masthead with a title.