Writing for Your Website or E-Newsletter
Effective Communications Don't Just Report the News – It Helps Make It Happen
To do that, your website and e-newsletter must tell readers what they need to know and what they can do to help. It must capture your readers' attention. And it must be distributed on a regular basis.Article Sections
Start by identifying your local Association's top-priority project in the week or month ahead. For example, if that priority is electing a slate of Association-endorsed school board candidates, then make that upcoming election the lead story at the top of your e-newsletter.
Don't forget about the victories already won! A feature, just below the lead article, could refer to an update on recent grievance cases or a bargaining update.
This second feature is a good spot to devote to any story sending the message that every member has rights that the Association is working hard to protect.
Provide all the information members need to actively participate in your local's top-priority effort – for example, how to get involved in the school board election campaign.
Don’t ask readers to do too much thinking. The simpler you make it, the likelier people are to do it. So a call to action will work best if there is one – and only one – thing you’re asking readers to do: attend a school board meeting, sign an online pledge, write a letter to the editor, etc.
There are four keys to crafting an effective call to action:
- Clarity: Is it clear what you’re asking people to do? Your intent should be obvious.
- Engagement: Is what you’re saying of compelling interest to the reader? Of course the message is important to you, but you must also make the reader understand why it’s important to her.
- Emotion: Have you reached beyond intellectual arguments? Even if your purpose is clear, and even if you’ve crafted a persuasive argument and have all your facts lined up, you must still strike an emotional chord with your reader in order to move them to action.
- Urgency: Have you made a case for the need to act right now? Whatever you’re asking people to do – help staff a meeting, attend a rally, sign a petition, etc. – you must explain why it’s important for the reader to take action now.
In an effective local, information flows back and forth between leaders and members. A feature titled "Straight Talk" could offer a forum for just that give and take.
"Straight Talk" could be written by the local president. But it could just as well be written by a number of other people within your local who have a thought-provoking message on a current issue. Many would love seeing their concerns given front-page coverage.
This feature could report on what members are up to – new employees, employee transitions, awards, volunteer efforts. It's where you can keep everyone up to date. It will be one of the most popular items in your newsletter. Suggested section dividers:
- For Your Shelf – highlight books or other materials worthy of members' attention. Feel free to pick and choose from the reviews of printed materials, Web sites, television programs, grants, and other resources at the back of every NEA Today.
- Opportunity Knocks – provide information on upcoming conferences, courses, lectures, and other events and programs of interest to your members.
- Need Help? – a section to help build your local by letting members know where they should go for help, and by recognizing members who serve as Association Representatives (ARs). If your local has more ARs than can easily be listed, just rotate the listings.
This is the place to highlight Association or Association-backed activities in the near future.
- Unsubscribe Option – to comply with legal guidelines on email distribution [link to legal guidelines below], be sure to give recipients the option to stop receiving your e-newsletter.
- Mailing Address – include the name of your local Association and mailing address to comply with legal guidelines.
- Contact Info – indicate how members can contact the Association: by replying to the email, clicking a link to visit the “Contact Us” page on your website, via a phone number, etc.
Other items you might include in the footer:
- Social Media – links to your Association’s social media properties (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Logo – if your association’s logo is not featured in the header or masthead, you might place a smaller version in the footer.
- 20 Tips for Producing Great Content
This is an easy way to evaluate how your Association is communicating its mission, goals, and messages. Just answer yes or no to each and tally your score!
- Writing Strong Copy
When it comes to online communication, content is king. Here are tried and true guidlelines to craft your messages for maximun effect.
- Attracting Contributors
Get the conversations going! Whether it's a good debate or an exchange of vital information, get your members to be a part of it all with a few simple steps.
- Free Content for Your Website
FREE: enough said.
- Editorial Checklist
Make sure you cover these key points for maximum message benefit.