CAP Talk

General Discussion => The Lobby => Topic started by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 27, 2015, 03:19:43 PM

Title: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 27, 2015, 03:19:43 PM
Long story short, our Squadron had a newsletter up until Q3 last year when the officer who was writing it moved up to Wing. The CC has given me the task of creating and maintaining a quarterly newsletter for our Squadron.

So the question....does your Squadron have a newsletter that you feel is amazing? What do you include in every issue, what do you only include occasionally, and what do you leave out? Any tips or advice? Do you have a link you can post?

Aside from current and upcoming events, I want to include an article from the Commander, Cadet Commander, AE, ES, CP, Safety and Recruiting. If space permits, a section on Squadron or CAP History. Maybe a section discussing a Custom or Courtesy that everyone should know (reporting, saluting, respect for the flag etc.) Am I cramming in too much? Too little? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on February 27, 2015, 03:25:00 PM
...what do you leave out?

Newsletters.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: A.Member on February 27, 2015, 04:03:24 PM
My tip:  Don't waste your time or the unit's money.  Do you really have enough important content on a regular basis?

Newsletters are yester year's communication.   Today people expect electronic updates (ie. Facebook (as much as that makes me cringe), Twitter, etc.).  They allow for briefer, more timely updates.

Why isn't your PAO taking the lead on this?  That's part of their role.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 27, 2015, 04:46:16 PM
Not necessarily printing copies, mainly sending out a pdf update and posting on website.

PAO is wearing a lot of hats....and I offered to pick it up, since I'm documenting everything for the history report anyway.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: LTC Don on February 27, 2015, 05:07:24 PM
As long as you have content coming in, newsletters can be useful, especially as a way to send out to potential benefactors, parents, businesses, etc.

Promotions can be a big part of a newsletter. We tried to have content specifically drawn/related  from/to the three core missions.  And, we tried to task the cadet(s) working on their PAO SDA contribute content to, if not outright produce the newsletter.

Parents appreciate things like newsletters that feature their children either being published as an author of an article, or being promoted.

Good luck on the project.  It will get tedious after a while, but it has rewards as well.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: jeders on February 27, 2015, 05:22:44 PM
The CC has given me the task of creating and maintaining a quarterly newsletter for our Squadron.

A news what now? Wait a minute, I think I remember those things from elementary school; we used to use them as a distraction for a few minutes before throwing them in the trash.  >:D

I think that the things you are including are good, but you shouldn't be putting them in a newsletter; that's just a waste. Instead put them in blog posts and facebook updates where media is consumed these days. That way you can push stuff out more often without needing as much stuff to actually push out.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 28, 2015, 12:15:02 AM
Instead put them in blog posts and facebook updates where media is consumed these days. That way you can push stuff out more often without needing as much stuff to actually push out.

True, but.....

newsletters can be useful, especially as a way to send out to potential benefactors, parents, businesses, etc.

Parents appreciate things like newsletters that feature their children either being published as an author of an article, or being promoted.

A potential member, benefactor etc. might not want to skim through 3 months of FB posts and tweets. A hard copy newsletter that we can send with them is a bit more professional. For the same reason, parents may prefer to get news of their Cadet's accomplishments and see what the Squadron's up to all at once, instead of weekly tweets. A quarterly email containing a well done newsletter makes it look more like they are trusting their children to a group of professionals.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Майор Хаткевич on February 28, 2015, 01:14:57 AM
Why would someone outside care about something 3 months old?
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on February 28, 2015, 01:20:25 AM
A potential member, benefactor etc. might not want to skim through 3 months of FB posts and tweets. A hard copy newsletter that we can send with them is a bit more professional. For the same reason, parents may prefer to get news of their Cadet's accomplishments and see what the Squadron's up to all at once, instead of weekly tweets. A quarterly email containing a well done newsletter makes it look more like they are trusting their children to a group of professionals.

Here's your first problem - you don't know your intended audience.  You have to start there.
Spending hours formatting text no one is going to look at in the hopes that some random benefactor might, someday, flip through it,
is a waste of time.

For that purpose you'd be much better off having a one-sheet with perhaps a coherent web presence to support more detail.

Your core audience, presumably, is the unit membership, focus on their needs are the core audience.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 28, 2015, 10:33:04 AM
Why would someone outside care about something 3 months old?

If I'm speaking to the director of the Historical Society, and I hand him a newsletter with a good writeup of a CGM presentation that was done 3 months ago, that wouldn't be relevant because it didn't happen this week?

As a new member of the Squadron....looking over the newsletters they had from last year gave me a good overview of the activity level of the Squadron. A new member looking to join, who's on the web researching multiple units, would be better off coming across a web version of the Squadron newsletter, than combing through multiple tweets trying to get something relevant. Had our previous Squadron Newsletters been on the web when I was researching local units, I would've taken the time to read through them. Again, not everyone's cup of tea, but if we maintain a newsletter, web and social media presence, people can pick and choose how they obtain their info.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on February 28, 2015, 10:36:58 AM
For that purpose you'd be much better off having a one-sheet with perhaps a coherent web presence to support more detail.

True, doesn't have to necessarily be long. A nicely formatted one page or two page could work out just fine. For a longer article, a summary could be included with a note to view the full article on the website or blog.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Storm Chaser on February 28, 2015, 10:48:29 AM
The advice you're receiving on this board regarding newsletters is based on the vast experience of members who have tried it before. The question is not whether there's some value in a newsletter, but whether the return on investment is worth the effort. It's easy to get excited about this new project, until the countless hours spent getting and formatting content do not provide the return on investment hoped for. These are thing you should factor in as you determine whether to start a newsletter or use a different medium for disseminating information.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on February 28, 2015, 02:14:18 PM
As someone who has edited newsletters for multiple organizations over the years, the one piece of advice that I can give you is to not to expect anyone else in the squadron to contribute articles or photos.  Maybe if you bother people enough they will come up with something, but for the most part you're going to have to do all the work. 

Personally, I wouldn't worry about how it looks.  A simple two-column Word document with photos inserted where appropriate is going to work just as well as something made using publishing software with all the bells and whistles that you would waste countless hours trying to figure out how to use.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Pylon on February 28, 2015, 07:21:55 PM
I'm not trying to jump on a dogpile here, but for you and other members thinking about newsletters I want to provide some things to consider and ponder.


You already identified that this wouldn't be for print, just electronic distribution.  Then why develop a newsletter with tools designed for print design, in a format (8.5 x 11 letter) designed solely for print, and then attach a PDF to emails or your website as a workaround?


Think about every major brand out there: Retail, corporate, major non-profit. Like most Americans you're probably on at least a dozen email lists for companies from which you buy, organizations to which you donate, or causes in which you're interested. Think about all the email promotions, updates, solicitations, and e-newsletters you get.  Does any major brand design their print publication and then email you a PDF or download of the print version?


The answer is a resounding no. Nobody does this because it goes against all best practice in communications and there are solid reasons for that.  At the very least, consider setting up a squadron update list on a platform like MailChimp.  Use the pre-formatted templates and put the updates directly into the body of the email.  You reduce the steps for recipients to read your content (every additional step reduces the percentage of people who will ultimately follow through to the end), you make it easier for them to access and view, it will be formatted for their screen (and not sized with paper primarily in mind). 


Using a platform like MailChimp also allows you to track metrics. Metrics aren't just some fancy tool for Fortune 500 companies with massive marketing departments. Basic metrics can be a very valuable tool to evaluate your work.  How many members open your emails or e-newsletters?  Is the open rate declining over time (indicating initial interest is waning)?  Those numbers (and others) can help you determine (which you should always be doing on an on-going basis) if your efforts are worth the input.


Finally, unless you're completely sold on the idea of a newsletter, I'd suggest you consider other means (another channel on which) to share squadron news.  Facebook, Twitter, or a news section on your website (preferably with an RSS feed so members so inclined can get push updates & notifications of new content or subscribe by email) would all allow you to release news updates as they happen, rather than wait until you collect enough information to put together a newsletter, put it together, and mail it out.  By then some of the oldest stories in your e-newsletter will already be stale.


In my honest opinion, there are about 20 other things I'd do first as a squadron PAO. And then if I still had ample volunteer-hours and resources to spare, I guess I'd consider adding an e-newsletter in the mix. But never before so many other pressing needs of promoting engagement (internally and externally) which I would always rank far more important than a newsletter.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Private Investigator on March 01, 2015, 12:01:18 PM
I think Pylon has the best answer.

I still got a Squadron Newsletter from 25 years ago just because I have a personal interest in that one issue. The others have lined birdcages. PAO & Historian go hand in hand so it would make sense to do both. I have it in the past.  8)
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Holding Pattern on March 01, 2015, 07:53:36 PM
Can you post an example newsletter from before?
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 01, 2015, 11:39:59 PM
I'd suggest you consider other means (another channel on which) to share squadron news.  Facebook,

Forget Facebook.  Probably less than 10-20% of those who "like" a Facebook page see any given post unless the page owner is willing to pay Facebook to let people see the content. 
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Майор Хаткевич on March 01, 2015, 11:44:57 PM
I'd suggest you consider other means (another channel on which) to share squadron news.  Facebook,

Forget Facebook.  Probably less than 10-20% of those who "like" a Facebook page see any given post unless the page owner is willing to pay Facebook to let people see the content.


That's not quite how it works. Not in all instances. We get a lot more response from members (cadets mainly) on FB, than by email. Sad, but true.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 02, 2015, 12:39:01 AM
I'd suggest you consider other means (another channel on which) to share squadron news.  Facebook,

Forget Facebook.  Probably less than 10-20% of those who "like" a Facebook page see any given post unless the page owner is willing to pay Facebook to let people see the content.


That's not quite how it works. Not in all instances. We get a lot more response from members (cadets mainly) on FB, than by email. Sad, but true.

Actually, it is very true.  I manage two Facebook pages with "likes" in the hundreds and though it is dependent on the type of post, most of them are not seen by most of the people that have liked the page.  It is in no way a reliable way of sharing internal news with members, which is the primary reason to have a newsletter.  Facebook is useful for other things and can be one way of sharing internal news, but if you actually want everyone to see it you have two options:
1) Mail it to everyone
2) Email it to everyone

They may not all actually read it, but those are the only ways they will all have a chance to see it.

Web pages are not nearly as useful as they might have been in the old days.  Most squadron/wing members are not going to go visit the web page on their own.  RSS feeds may be useful for alerting some to new content, but the vast majority of people either do not know how to use them or never heard of them in the first place. 
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: MovingOnToOtherThings on March 02, 2015, 09:38:40 AM
I do not do a squadron newsletter since we utilize other forms of social media for cadets and parents to communicate. We have a pretty active FB page for the Squadron that parents join as well as several Wing Staff.

I have a weekly "column or newsletter" that is never more than one page called the Safety Snapshot. Strictly published for GA002 and GAWG.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on March 02, 2015, 12:25:33 PM
I've been playing with MailChimp over the last few days, and I think this may be a good solution for us. I can do the newsletter through email, but it could also be easily reproduced in print, pdf, or put to the web if needed. Main distribution could be email, but if say we were doing a recruiting drive and wanted to print a few copies, it could easily be done.

The main problems I have with FB, are that:


Wouldn't make sense for my main distribution to be a Social Media site that the Cadets no longer think is cool, and the Seniors haven't figured out yet.

I think email will be the best option. I can make it a one pager, and send it out a little more frequently. I was playing with templates yesterday, when our Asst. PAO forwarded me an article he wrote and pictures from a Color Guard clinic the Cadets attended. Had I already had a completed template, it would have taken no effort to copy and paste his story and photos into the template and send it out same day.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on March 02, 2015, 12:42:57 PM
  • Correct, FB restricts each post to only 20% of followers,
It also restricts use by those under the age of 13.  CAP's youngest cadets are 12.
I don't see how people miss that.

  • Many of our Seniors aren't on FB yet. I'm not saying they're not tech savvy.......but they're not tech savvy. We have a FB Group for our Squadron, but I think only 3 or 4 of our 20 Seniors are a part of it.

Or because they are "life savvy" and want no part of that nonsense.[/list]

I do agree, however, that kids are wandering away from FB to instagram, most likely because it's simply "easier" -
no texting needed whatsoever.

Unfortunately email if basically a non-starter for anyone under 21.  You're kidding yourself if you think cadets are going to
read anything from "that old dude at the airport".  They can't share it, like it, or Twitter it.  What's the point?
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: 1st Lt Thompson on March 02, 2015, 01:03:39 PM
True, the only medium that will ensure everyone sees it, would be to physically hand it to everyone, but then there's no guarantee that they'll take it home and share it with their parents.

We could condense the entire newsletter down to a weekly Instagram pic, lots of cool filters, grain and artsy blur. Instead of writing an article about new Cadets doing their first O-Flights, we could just post a black and white pic of the wheel of a Cessna with some sun flare in the background.....oh and one small item in color, like a dandelion or something :P
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: A.Member on March 02, 2015, 01:11:40 PM
Unfortunately email if basically a non-starter for anyone under 21.  You're kidding yourself if you think cadets are going to
read anything from "that old dude at the airport".  They can't share it, like it, or Twitter it.  What's the point?
21 is too low..let's just say that I'm a bit older than that and I find most to be noise.  As a matter of fact, I'd say most of our Wing members find it to be noise as evidenced by the fact that we only have roughly half our members subscribed to our e-mail Announcements distribution list.  Is it really effective communication? 

In my view, effective communications requires a layered approach.  Communications need to take place in a variety of media - e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  In all cases, they must be timely and succinct.  No one is going to read quarterly newsletters.  If it's not timely, it's not news and quarterly is nearly a lifetime ago for many. 
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on March 02, 2015, 01:28:54 PM
True, the only medium that will ensure everyone sees it, would be to physically hand it to everyone, but then there's no guarantee that they'll take it home and share it with their parents.

Agreed.  A great way to waste trees and money.

Do you see why we're all suggesting "not" in this scenario?

Anything long format is dead, for better or worse.  If it's not summed up in a photo or two sentences, it get passed over or ignored.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: MovingOnToOtherThings on March 02, 2015, 02:37:42 PM
In doing my squadron newsletter I had to take a different approach. I was use to creating larger newsletters for my facilities for several hundred people. This has been tailored for CAP and to be no more than 1 page. So far so good, out of a squadron of 50 i usually have 35-40 views.

It is not required, does not qualify as safety training, but has been well received.

This was the first release and has changed slightly. It was approved by Commander before starting.

From the PAO side we take alot of pictures as stated earlied and the parents appreciate what we do.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 02, 2015, 04:31:45 PM
  • Correct, FB restricts each post to only 20% of followers,
It also restricts use by those under the age of 13.  CAP's youngest cadets are 12.
I don't see how people miss that.

I don't think you understand.  Facebook does not show a Facebook page post to about 80% of the people that "like" the page.  They used to be seen by everyone, but now you have to pay Facebook to get your posts viewed by a higher percentage of the people that have "liked" your page. 

If you understood that and were simply using that quote as a start-off to point out that Facebook is also not technically available for use by all our members, you are correct.  [/list]
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on March 02, 2015, 04:43:36 PM
I got that, just a jumping point to further reinforce why Facebook, which seems like such a good idea, isn't.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: A.Member on March 02, 2015, 06:58:16 PM
  • Correct, FB restricts each post to only 20% of followers,
It also restricts use by those under the age of 13.  CAP's youngest cadets are 12.
I don't see how people miss that.

I don't think you understand.  Facebook does not show a Facebook page post to about 80% of the people that "like" the page.  They used to be seen by everyone, but now you have to pay Facebook to get your posts viewed by a higher percentage of the people that have "liked" your page. 

If you understood that and were simply using that quote as a start-off to point out that Facebook is also not technically available for use by all our members, you are correct.  [/list]
This is not 100% complete. 

People can still visit public pages directly and view posts.  What they are not always necessarily receiving are News Feeds.  However, they can click "Page Feeds" to view their feeds.  They can also continue to visit pages and click "Get Notifications".   It's not great but it's not as dire as you make it out to be either....and that only pertains to Facebook users anyway. 

So, FB pages can still serve as a news feed for public viewing even for those that aren't on FB.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on March 02, 2015, 07:09:35 PM
So, FB pages can still serve as a news feed for public viewing even for those that aren't on FB.

Can, and does are two different things.

People not invested in participating are not going there as lurkers in numbers worth mentioning.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 02, 2015, 07:25:18 PM
So, FB pages can still serve as a news feed for public viewing even for those that aren't on FB.

Sure, they can, but the fact is that they don't.  Just like squadron members can visit the squadron web page, but most are not going to.  Just a fact of internet life these days. 
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Eclipse on March 02, 2015, 11:25:18 PM
Here's an example of a good, modern newsletter.  It's formatted with the assumption it
will be read on mobile devices, the content is dynamic, and lends itself easily to using Analytics.

https://docs.google.com/a/googleapps.com/document/d/1emmubSgD1Y3OBhjKNd1LIME2VW2FMBAuzP4OPHbZdIY/edit
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: A.Member on March 03, 2015, 12:19:30 PM
So, FB pages can still serve as a news feed for public viewing even for those that aren't on FB.

Sure, they can, but the fact is that they don't.  Just like squadron members can visit the squadron web page, but most are not going to.  Just a fact of internet life these days.
Agree, there are some that won't.  However, there are still a fair number that do. 

Many active FB users know how to manage Page Feeds and News Feeds so the issue you mention isn't as significant as you make it out to be; this is not a new or "secret" issue.   

That said, as I mentioned earlier, there is no one solution to meet all scenarios.  Effective engagement requires a layered approach to communications across several platforms.  Ex. RSS subsciption feeds for page updates on Google Sites, FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  They all play a role in modern communications
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 03, 2015, 08:17:33 PM
[Many active FB users know how to manage Page Feeds and News Feeds so the issue you mention isn't as significant as you make it out to be; this is not a new or "secret" issue.   
Correction -- a small minority of active FB users.... 

The statistics don't lie -- Facebook has rigged the system such that anyone that wants to really know what is appearing on a page that they like has to intentionally go directly to that page on a regular basis to view what is on it.  Sure, there are few tricks that may get a particular page to show up in your feed more often, but you're still not going to see everything.  In other words, Facebook is about as useful as a web site for distributing news.  Both require that intentional actions be taken by the viewer to go see what is on them.

The fact is that most don't.  FB page insights don't lie.  Google Analytics on your web page doesn't lie. 
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: JeffDG on March 03, 2015, 08:33:49 PM
[Many active FB users know how to manage Page Feeds and News Feeds so the issue you mention isn't as significant as you make it out to be; this is not a new or "secret" issue.   
Correction -- a small minority of active FB users.... 

The statistics don't lie -- Facebook has rigged the system such that anyone that wants to really know what is appearing on a page that they like has to intentionally go directly to that page on a regular basis to view what is on it.  Sure, there are few tricks that may get a particular page to show up in your feed more often, but you're still not going to see everything.  In other words, Facebook is about as useful as a web site for distributing news.  Both require that intentional actions be taken by the viewer to go see what is on them.

The fact is that most don't.  FB page insights don't lie.  Google Analytics on your web page doesn't lie.
(http://i.imgur.com/WiOMq.jpg)
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: RiverAux on March 04, 2015, 09:01:24 AM
Exactly
Title: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: Storm Chaser on March 04, 2015, 09:46:42 AM
Here's an example of a good, modern newsletter.  It's formatted with the assumption it
will be read on mobile devices, the content is dynamic, and lends itself easily to using Analytics.

https://docs.google.com/a/googleapps.com/document/d/1emmubSgD1Y3OBhjKNd1LIME2VW2FMBAuzP4OPHbZdIY/edit

I don't know. It's not bad, but the formatting and layout doesn't look great on my iPhone, especially that banner at the top. It's too long for a mobile display and the resolution is poor for most displays with high pixel density.

And before you make a comment about iPhone (yes, we know how you feel about Apple products), remember that many people have them, so mobile sites should display well on them, as well as other popular devices.  ;)
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: SarDragon on March 16, 2018, 04:04:58 PM
Unlocked by request. Keep it relevant.
Title: Re: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
Post by: ColDAN on April 06, 2018, 09:04:50 PM
Keep in current, as of the publication date. and relevant to those who receive it

Keep a regular publication date (every month or quarter)  If you cannot keep a scheduled date, then do not do the newsletter

If you have do not have enough articles , just print a smaller newsletter that month

Have all the squadron officers (with positions) contribute (Squadron commander every issue along with cadet commands) other officers on a regular basis

suggest advertising from a local source to pay for printing