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20 Tips for Producing Great Content

Are Your Association Publications on the Right Track?

Here's a checklist to help you evaluate your Association publication. Just answer yes or no to each and tally your score.

1. Do I publish articles and photos that showcase members involved in Association activities – and present these members as role models for others?

2. Do I always ask myself whether there is something readers can do about this subject? And if they can, do I include this information in or alongside the story?

3. Do I provide practical information that helps members develop the skills and confidence needed to get involved in Association activities?

4. Am I careful about not using impersonal and unfamiliar acronyms in headlines too often?

5. Do I include news from my NEA state affiliate and NEA at the national level, so my readers have a broad perspective of what the Association does?

6. Do I include feature stories – some showing union activism, others drawing on the dramatic elements of education that any reader would be interested in?

7. Do I use different formats to liven the pages – news briefs, contests, Q&As, personal accounts, debates, photo spreads, poems, cartoons?

8. Do I actively solicit interesting, thoughtful letters to the editor? Do I provide guidelines that make it clear that controversial letters are acceptable?

9. Does my newsletter show members in action and emphasize their concerns? Do I avoid sending the message that the Association is only about top leadership?

10. Have I created a format that makes my publication recognizable to our members?

11. Does my newsletter come out on a regular basis, so members know when to expect the news?

12. Do I keep the text short – short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, short articles?

13. Do I keep the text "skimable," – especially in longer stories?

14. Is the type I use for text, captions, and headlines big enough so people quickly see that the newsletter is easy to read?

15. Do I use bold lead-ins, subheads, bullets, and checklists to emphasize an article's main points?

16. Do I consider members attending Association meetings as potential sources for articles and interviews?

17. Have I conducted a survey to find out what members would like to see in their publication?

18. Am I constantly looking for ways to improve the publication, a little bit at a time?

19. Have I improved the look of the publication over the past year?

20. Do I congratulate myself often enough on the really good stories and work that I do?


If you answered yes to:
  • 19-20. You qualify for an Association Pulitzer!
  • 16-18. Great job. Readers love you.
  • 13-15. A little more work and you'll have a fan club of active Association readers.
  • Below 12. Hang in there, and keep this checklist as a "things to do" list.