Employee newsletter can improve workplace culture

November 3, 2014

By Ken Blum
Black Ink 

What’s the workplace culture at your newspaper?  Is it a place where employees look forward to coming to work each day? Where readers and customers are always top of mind? Where there’s a sense of being part of a team; a member of a tight knit family? Where there’s an intense pride in the product and a constant effort to improve?

If you would like a tool that encourages and reflects all these qualities, a monthly or quarterly employee newsletter is a venture well worth the time and effort.

A perfect example comes from Taylor Newspapers, a group of three smaller weeklies based in Southeastern Kansas.

 Publisher Rudy Taylor’s monthly newsletter strikes just the right balance and tone, reflecting the owners’ dedication to their employees, communities and papers; and in turn reporting on employees’ contributions to the company and community.

The newsletter is only six pages, e-mailed to employees as a PDF file.

Yes, it’s small but it has an array of mighty features that would make anyone feel great about being part of this company.

(Note: thanks to Taylor, if you would like a PDF of the entire newsletter, just drop me an e-mail to blummer@aol.com and I’ll send you one.)

Here’s a page by page summary:

APPRECIATION—Page One—Taylor writes a column about how blessed the staff is to live in such a beautiful place during a gorgeous fall season.

A block in the lower corner thanks everyone for their efforts after recent staff cutbacks, but also invites feedback: “We need your ideas on how to best operate each office—without killing ourselves in the process. Speak up when you feel pushed too hard. We want less stress, not more!”

TRAINING—Page 2—Taylor points out that everyone can be a reporter, and offers 10 old-school hints about the basics of collecting news at a smaller hometown paper. (You’ll want to download the newsletter just for this feature.)

Just a few of these tips:

• Every person you meet wears a little sign on his/her head that says, “Please tell my story.”

• A newspaper staffer without a camera is like walking naked along Main Street. Take your camera everywhere you go. (But wear clothes.)

• Make it a goal to write at least five little, one-paragraph stories each week. They’re still the best-read articles in the newspaper.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS—Page 3—a rundown of important deadlines for the coming holiday season. A reminder to play Christmas music in each office during the season.

PERSONALS—Page 4—tidbits about individual employees—pats on the back for accomplishments that went above and beyond, new employee profiles, family events.

MORE PERSONALS—Page 5.

CANDOR—Page 6—employees were aware the publishers had been considering the purchase of another newspaper. The publishers decided not to buy it, and a candid explanation is provided.

Also on this page is a piece that encourages fresh new ideas—Taylor points out, “It is so easy to fall into the comfort zone of newspaper publishing rather than being innovative and fresh in our thinking. So today we are challenging everyone to look at your jobs, and all three of our newspapers, as something to be re-imagined.”

It’s not only the content of the Taylor Newspapers employee newsletter that stands out, but the tone in which it’s written and presented, not a businesslike approach, but with a personal flavor that leaves no doubt this company encourages excellence and genuinely appreciates its people.

I’m sure the latter feeling is mutual. © Ken Blum 2014

 

Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a monthly free e-mail newsletter titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at blummer@aol.com; or phone to 330-682-3416.

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