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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
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Author Topic: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter  (Read 5500 times)
1st Lt Thompson
Seasoned Member

Posts: 355
Unit: GLR-MI-063

« 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.
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1st Lt Matt Thompson
Squadron Leadership Officer, Squadron Historian
UDF, GTM3, MSA, MS

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)
Eclipse
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 03:25:00 PM »

...what do you leave out?

Newsletters.
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A.Member
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,617

« Reply #2 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.
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"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return." - Leonardo da Vinci
1st Lt Thompson
Seasoned Member

Posts: 355
Unit: GLR-MI-063

« Reply #3 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.
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1st Lt Matt Thompson
Squadron Leadership Officer, Squadron Historian
UDF, GTM3, MSA, MS

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)
LTC Don
Seasoned Member

Posts: 354
Unit: MER-NC-143

JoCo CAP
« Reply #4 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.
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Donald A. Beckett, Lt Col, CAP
Commander
MER-NC-143
Gill Rob Wilson #1891
jeders
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« Reply #5 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.
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If you are confident in you abilities and experience, whether someone else is impressed is irrelevant. - Eclipse
1st Lt Thompson
Seasoned Member

Posts: 355
Unit: GLR-MI-063

« Reply #6 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.
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1st Lt Matt Thompson
Squadron Leadership Officer, Squadron Historian
UDF, GTM3, MSA, MS

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)
Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 01:14:57 AM »

Why would someone outside care about something 3 months old?
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Eclipse
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« Reply #8 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.
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1st Lt Thompson
Seasoned Member

Posts: 355
Unit: GLR-MI-063

« Reply #9 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.
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1st Lt Matt Thompson
Squadron Leadership Officer, Squadron Historian
UDF, GTM3, MSA, MS

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)
1st Lt Thompson
Seasoned Member

Posts: 355
Unit: GLR-MI-063

« Reply #10 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.
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1st Lt Matt Thompson
Squadron Leadership Officer, Squadron Historian
UDF, GTM3, MSA, MS

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)
Storm Chaser
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Posts: 2,680

« Reply #11 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.
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RiverAux
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« Reply #12 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.
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Pylon
Administrator

Posts: 5,136
Unit: NER-NH-038

Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #13 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.
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
Private Investigator
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Posts: 2,158

« Reply #14 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)
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Holding Pattern
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Unit: Worry

« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2015, 07:53:36 PM »

Can you post an example newsletter from before?
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RiverAux
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« Reply #16 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. 
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #17 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.
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RiverAux
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« Reply #18 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. 
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MovingOnToOtherThings
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Posts: 1,300

« Reply #19 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.
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Always seeking to learn.
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: Tips for starting a Squadron Newsletter
 


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