Is your employee newsletter management propaganda?

By Robert F. Abbott

It should not be. If it is an effective newsletter, it will serve the needs of readers (employees) as much as it serves the needs of the publisher (management).

Let me explain how to ensure it serves employees as well as management, by reviewing four key points I make in A Manager’s Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results.

Objectives and reader responses: First, state your objectives in terms of reader responses. This forces you to focus on your readers, and what they’re likely or not likely to do. Nothing brings objectives down to earth more quickly than the reality of implementation.

Now you may have self-serving objectives, such as increasing employee productivity, which is fine. But, once you state that objective in terms of reader responses, you are forced to see that objective in new terms.

For example, let’s say you want to increase productivity. The desired reader response might be that employees will participate in lunch hour learning sessions. Now, you have to plan and write articles that give readers some good reasons to attend.

Reader goals: To find those reasons, you’ll have to identify readers’ goals, and which of them they can achieve through your organization. Chances are your organization can offer a stable income, but probably not the chance to become fabulously wealthy. Nor would you expect most organizations to be part of spiritual or family goals. So the second key point is to focus on the goals that your organization can help readers attain, and leave the rest alone.

Content in which you share an interest: Third, select content that serves both your objectives and readers’ goals, and I emphasize the word ‘both.’ If there isn’t something that interests both management and employees in an article, then it doesn’t belong in your newsletter. You both must have something to gain or something to lose in choosing subjects for coverage.

Presentation style: Fourth, the style of presentation should be appropriate for the characteristics readers bring to the newsletter. They don’t pick up a newsletter with their minds in the blank slate position. Instead, they bring to it emotions, degrees of involvement, and ranges of consistency with your attitudes and beliefs.

You need to do at least some basic profiling, to identify these characteristics. For example, if morale is poor, you need to address the reasons and the solutions. It makes absolutely no sense to pretend everyone’s happy when the opposite is true.

Of course, not every organization covers these four issues. Take a look at many employee newsletters and you’ll see something much different. These newsletters have objectives that serve only management, and not management and employees both.

You’ll see what amounts to a brochure, a sales pitch that does nothing to help employees advance toward or achieve their goals. And, if there’s nothing there for employees, why would they read it?

And, if they don’t read the newsletter, how will it help management achieve its objectives? It won’t, of course, and the employee, having found nothing of relevance to her interests in the newsletter, will assume it is management propaganda.

In summary, an effective employee newsletter addresses the needs of both the publisher (management) and readers (employees). And, ironically, a newsletter can only achieve its self-serving objectives by serving the interests of readers, too.

About the author:
Robert F. Abbott is the author of A Manager’s Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results, which explains how to create effective newsletters, newsletters that get the desired responses. Learn how to start a newsletter, with real-life examples, at:

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