Company Newsletter: Ultimate Guide for StartUps

By Carrie Aulenbacher, - In Leadership

A letter box where you can put your company newsletter in

Photo Credit: jaymantri

In this ultimate guide to your company newsletter, we are going to cover why they are important for startups, what content you should include and who should receive it. Plus I have 14 company newsletter ideas you can use right now.

Company newsletters have been something that only large companies have bothered with in the past. They create company newsletters to update everyone about what’s going on with the company.

In the past, it has been left to a human resources manager or communications manager to come up with company newsletter ideas and put it together. Then after a few hours work some generic piece of content gets mailed out and instantly gets consigned to the trash by every employee in the company.

Many startups and small businesses now face many of the same communication challenges as the multinationals but for different reasons. As startups just focus on growth, yesterday’s goal may not be today’s goal. Teams are distributed all over the world, and if there is a central office, it is rare to find everyone in there at the same time.  So keeping everyone up to date and working towards the same goals, is more of a challenge than it has been in the past.

One way we can tackle this problem is by implementing an awesome company newsletter!

Why a Company Newsletter Is Important

A picture to show Why a Company Newsletter Is Important. It has a man shouting into a tin can with some string coming from it.

Communication

In short, a company newsletter is an excellent internal communications tool.

Whether you are a product based or service based startup/business, your marketing team is working hard to get the message out about what you do to your customers and clients. If they are doing a great job, your potential customers can probably tell you all about the benefits of using your product. They may even be able to tell you about some of the awesome work you do in the community such as events.

The evangelists might even be able to repeat your company’s mission statement back to you!

But what about your employees? Do they know where the company is heading?

You might be asking “What are you talking about, Mrs. A? Why market to your employees? There is no need to tell them what we are doing; don’t they already work for me?”

Yes. If you are a team of co-founders or a small (4 or 5 people) company who are all based in the same office and have regular face to face meeting, agreed a company newsletter may not be needed.

However, for those with slightly bigger startups or teams spread across multiple locations communication may be a bit trickier. In this case, a company newsletter could become a vital communications tool if used to their full potential.

Your company newsletter is the most informal ‘formal’ way of communicating. This makes it an excellent way to keep everyone informed about the goals and more of your startup or business.

Who Should Receive Your Company Newsletter

Sure, it depends on the type of information you’re sharing inside your company newsletter.

However, most startups and successful companies are pretty open about where things are at with their employees. Take Buffer, for example, they even publicly publish every single employee earning!

Employees respond better to an atmosphere that not only rewards their efforts but gives them a sense of family.  Looking at a newsletter, not as a way to push your product but to make employees feel valued can go a lot way to uplifting the camaraderie of your entire team.

So where possible include as many people as in your internal company newsletter. These include:

  • All internal staff
  • Your VA’s and freelancers
  • Some of your closest suppliers if appropriate
  • The board
  • Your Investors

Ways to Use a Company Newsletter

1. Celebrate Milestones & Update Your Company Goals (Key Metrics)

Startups all have goals. They need a big goal to work towards, and by achieving the big goal they should make money. However, to achieve these objectives there are many smaller milestones and key metrics that a company will aim to achieve.

There are some people or in a larger organization departments involved in achieving these key metrics. So when you hit these key metrics why not let everyone know! “Say HELL YE we smashed it, and you were part of it, thank you to everyone.”

Remember, you couldn’t have made it this far without them – so recognize them!

Key Metrics

As you hit these key metrics, you are likely to new set even bigger and better targets. So use your internal company newsletter to let people know what the new objectives and what new key metrics you are working towards.

Sales Targets

Everyone loves to hear that they have hit a significant sales target that is likely to secure their job. So when you hit the sales target let everyone know in your company newsletter.

Safety Goals

Safety goals are a forgotten ‘metric’ within many startups and even large corporations, but it’s an important one. Employee’s like to know that they are working in a safe environment. And if there have been some issues point out why, and how everyone can help improve.

2. Deliver Training

Sure most services/tools you implement in your startup are well documented these days. And most people can pick them up pretty quickly.

However let’s say you are introducing Slack for internal or external communication. A company newsletter letting everyone know why you are implementing it and the ground rules on how to use the tool within the context of your business would be good.

Or say you are introducing a time tracking services like Toggl that Fridge uses, or a new swipe card system. A companywide update on how to use this service will help everyone to embrace the use of it.

Or let’s say you bring in a new piece of safety equipment in a production environment. A short company newsletter pointing out where the equipment is located around your facility and how to use it just might save a life one day.

3. Department Updates

To a degree project management tools have taken away the need to let everyone inside a department know they have achieved a goal. However, if you do work in a number of locations worldwide, internal achievements may not get communicated across a department.

So send a company newsletter just in the department if there is something worth saying.

Company Newsletter Tips (and Rules)

Picture of a blank page of paper with a coffee next to it ready to write some company newsletter tips on it

Company Newsletter Tips

1. Short And Sweet

Multi-page edition’s or lengthy email company newsletters will take a long time to create. It will take away from the work that directly contributes to growth, plus employees won’t read it.

Instead, treat the internal company newsletter as you would an email newsletter to your list. Give short summaries of content inside the email and link out to other places so employees can consume the full content.

If you are doing a physical edition of your newsletter a one-page front and back newsletter is a great place to start.  Articles that can be read in a minute or two will allow the reader to get the point of the story before they’re interrupted again!

2. Go Green

For companies that don’t see a print version as a viable way to distribute a company newsletter (which let’s be honest it’s 2016, it’s not), consider going green with an email/online version.  If you don’t have an intranet or private space online just for employees, your IT department/devs should be able to set one up.

However, investing in a full-blown, old school, intranet is a bit much for startups. Instead, you could just add some documents to a company only Google Drive folder and link to that.  This keeps things like earning, key metrics, birthdays and other private information off of the internet.

Plus, if you employ members of your team that work remotely, they can be kept in the loop no matter where they are at.

If you want to make your company newsletter all cool and tech you can just treat it as if you would an external email. Fridge uses Agile CRM for all of its company newsletter updates to contributors. However, any of the regular HTML email services will work just fine including:

Active Campaign (Fridge’s Email Provider)

Or Mail Chimp – It’s free for up to 2000 contacts + it has an easy to use drop and drag builder so is perfect for an internal Company Newsletter.

3. It’s About Them, Not You

Many look at newsletters as a way to extend additional information to customers about what their company is doing.  Many send them out quarterly with updates on new products or services.  However, an intercompany newsletter for employees can be just as beneficial.

Depending on where you are in the organization, there’s no way for everyone to know everything that’s going on.  By providing an intercompany newsletter, you can keep rumors at bay and build camaraderie.

4. Use Video

The most clicked emails are ones that include videos. So why not give an update via video in your company newsletter.

Your employees will engage with you a lot more, especially if the update is coming from someone outside of their immediate team. It’s a lot easier to connect with someone when you can put a face to the words.

One difference between an internal company newsletter and an external company newsletter is that your videos don’t need it to look super amazing. So should only take someone 5 minutes to put a video together that resonates with everyone.

To create a video that will work you have a few options:

1. Use your phone

Just pull your phone out and hit record. Say what you have to say then upload it somewhere private, such onto Wistia, Vimeo or an unlisted video on YouTube. Your phone is also a perfect tool to use if you need to show how to use something in the physical world such as a new safety device in your company newsletter.

2. Record a Private Google Hangout

Google Hangout’s have made recording ad hock face to camera video’s very easy. So to record a quick informal video for your company newsletter you could set up a private hangout with no one else in. Record the update and send over the link to the final video to the person who is putting the newsletter together.

3. Screen Capture

If you want to demonstrate something that is on your computer, you could use the screen share function of Google Hangout’s or a tool like Screenflow or Camtasia.

This way everyone gets to see what you are doing and can follow along.

4. Content Samurai

If you want to do a quick video presentation in your company newsletter, Content Samurai will help you create a fantastic video presentation in minutes. See the Fridge guide on how to use Content Samurai here.

5. Ask Your Team to Contribute

Making the newsletter a company-wide affair can take the pressure off of one person and make everyone feel like they have a say in what gets published.  Approach managers and ask them to consider a small article that highlights a recent sale or welcomes a new account they landed.

Upper management might even want to look into using the newsletter to broadcast safety awards and employee of the month honors.

6. Just Don’t Preach

Keep in mind that you catch more with honey than vinegar.  Be sure to go over what is contributed so that the tone is not one of correction.

If the first few editions have a patronizing tone of reprimand to them, you might quickly find that employees will skip reading future editions altogether.

PLUS, Save addressing internal concerns for staff meetings.

7. Break It Up

Just as when scrolling through social media, some scan a newsletter just for their favorite parts.  Don’t limit your newsletter to just articles.  Text boxes with trivia or fun facts can break up your format and make it more visually appealing.

Plus, managers might be more willing to contribute if they have the option of filling in a trivia or game box instead of just writing up articles every month.

8. Make It Reliable and Consistent

Set a schedule for your newsletter and stick to it.  Kicking off the first paycheck of each month by attaching a newsletter will give employees a heads up on what they have to look forward to.

Just try skipping one after a few editions and see what happens.  Most likely, if you’re resonating with employees, you’ll hear ‘What happened to the newsletter?’ as the scuttlebutt around the water cooler.  Don’t let them down!

9. Don’t Forget The Boss

Many might find your CEO intimidating or beyond their reach when it comes to issues in the company.  Do some think the CEO is approachable or out of touch?

Giving the boss a monthly or quarterly space to comment on how things are in the business can make them more personable.

This way, they can connect with new employees and show their thoughts.  For example, upper management might want to comment on busy holiday seasons approach.

Company Newsletter Ideas

Picture of lots of pegs on a washing line as a concept of gratisography

Company Newsletter Ideas

So, you bring up the suggestion of a business newsletter at the monthly meeting, and everybody agrees it’s a excellent idea.  Then they ask you what they are supposed to write about.  Don’t panic!

Here are some things to think about when putting a company newsletter together:

Company News

Milestones Reached

Everyone wants to know they have achieved something. In your company newsletter let them know! Whether it’s gaining your first 50,000 users or hitting the 10,000 paid user mark, it’s worth shouting about.

People will feel great and want to push on to the next big milestone. Plus by being open, it will take away the employee stress and reduce the whispers that can get going if people don’t hear the truth on a regular basis.

Metrics & Growth Goals

Metrics are the actual goal you need to be achieving to reach your milestones. Everyone in a startup is invariably involved in some way in achieving metrics and growth. So keep everyone informed how you are doing. Plus as you achieve your target’s use the company newsletter to tell everyone of your new key metrics you are all working towards.

How to Use

When you introduce a new system or procedure into your business, remember to tell everyone one how to use it. As ever, most people only do things incorrectly because they didn’t understand what to do in the first place. So as mentioned above include videos of how to complete tasks in your company newsletter.

Personal Ideas

Birthdays

Employees might enjoy a ‘happy birthday’ from fellow co-workers throughout the day.  The date can be listed without the year so as to keep their age private.  Small businesses might have a team that already knows birthdays but for larger firms, this could be a good excuse to get more employees to be able to put names and faces together as they celebrate a co-worker’s special day.

Interviews

Those who have been around a while have experiences and advice so why not tap into it with an employee interview? Ask them what has changed most in the industry since they were first hired along with fun things, such as their favorite hobby.  This could tie into an employee of the month plaque as well.

Anniversaries

Once employees reach a milestone, say 5 years, it is great for morale to thank them for their service. In high turnover rate industries, keeping employees long term speaks to your treatment of them and their loyalty – so thank them!

Pay It Forward! – Don’t forget to look into a memento (such as a pin) during a company retreat or Christmas party to further thank them.

Fun Company Newsletter Ideas

Reviews

Again, to keep things light-hearted, you might want to consider a fun movie review section to give employees a chuckle. Look for movies that might incorporate an element of your industry in the plot of the film so it can be highlighted.  Transportation companies, for example, might review trucker movies for a fun sidebar section!

Polls

When a situation arises, a great way to get feedback is to insert a poll. Voting can be anonymously cast at comment boxes throughout the building to spark discussion about a news story, a new policy instituted or just something fun (where to have the company retreat!)

Giveaways

Including fun monthly games (from trivia to word searches) in the company newsletter can break up the information provided and entice readership.  Everybody loves a quick diversion on their lunch.  Not everyone has a smartphone at their disposal to play a round of Jetpack Fighter or Angry Birds, so mix up the info with a game.

Pay It Forward! – Gift cards or additional time off can be awarded as incentives.

Info Based Company Newsletter Ideas

Local Events

Whether your company is directly involved or not, including a quick list of local events coming up can help acknowledge that employees do have a life outside their work. They might appreciate knowing what’s going on about town.  Co-workers might even get together to attend an event as a group to represent the company.

Informative Articles

Different divisions of your company might not understand the inner workings of another department or process.  Simple articles bringing everyone up to speed about their business can give employees a better sense of being included in what’s going on throughout their business.

New Vendors/Customers

If you find an interesting new vendor that can provide some innovation to your process, employees might find it fun to learn about what they do and how it will make their job better.  Introducing new customers to fellow employees can keep everyone up to speed.  Plus, it’s fun to see a customer’s product and be able to tell friends and family, ‘Hey, they are our new customer!’

Eat This, Not That

Employees want to be healthy but hate being nagged to eat better.  Try highlighting local food retailers near your business and look up their menu in ‘Eat This, Not That’ to give employees healthier options when they go out for lunch.  You know they’re going to eat out, so featuring their favorite restaurant might not make them feel so bad about it.

Pay It Forward! – If there is a new location opening, contact them and let them know you’re willing to feature them in your newsletter.  See if they would be willing to send along coupons to include encouraging employees to try their new place!

So Get Started!

Just a little acknowledgment can go a long way to maintaining company morale.  Including information about monthly staff meetings, new hires, or successful client campaigns can make everyone feel more ‘in the loop’ overall.  Small prizes and info on upcoming holidays and company parties can keep engagement high.  What have we missed that you like to use in your company newsletters?

And do you think company newsletters are still relevant for your startup in 2016?



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Freelancer, passionate social media geek and savvy secretary

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