Canít Find Good Newsletter Items
Here are 29 good places to look
By† Robert W. Bly
Coming up with good story ideas is one of the toughest tasks in publishing a company newsletter. Here's a checklist of story sources to stimulate editorial thinking and help identify topics with high reader interest that help to promote the company.
1. Product stories: New products; improvements to existing products; new models; new accessories; new options; and new applications.
2. News: Joint ventures; mergers and acquisitions; new divisions formed; new departments; other company news. Also, industry news and analyses of event and trends.
3. Tips: Tips on product selection, installation, maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.
4. How-To articles: Similar to tips, but with more detailed instructions. Examples: How to use the product; how to design a system; how to select the right type or model.
5. Previews and reports: Write-ups of special events such as trade shows, conferences, sales meetings, seminars, presentations, and press conferences.
6. Case histories: Either in-depth or brief, reporting product application successes stories, service successes, etc.
7. People: Company promotions, new hires, transfers, awards, anniversaries, employee profiles, customer profiles, human interest stories (unusual jobs, hobbies, etc.).
8. Milestones: e.g., "1,000th unit shipped," "Sales reach $1 million mark," "Division celebrates 10th anniversary," etc.
9. Sales news: New customers; bids accepted; contracts renewed; satisfied customer reports.
10. Research and development: New products; new technologies; new patents; technology awards; inventions; innovations; and breakthroughs.
11. Publications: New brochures available; new ad campaigns; technical papers presented; reprints available; new or updated manuals; announcements of other recently published literature.
12. Explanatory articles: How a product works; industry overviews; background information on applications and technologies.
13. Customer stories: Interviews with customers; photos; customer news and profiles; guest articles by customers about their industries, applications, and positive experiences with the vendor's product or service.
14. Financial news: Quarterly and annual report highlights; presentations to financial analysts; earnings and dividend news; etc.
15. Photos with captions: People; facilities; products; events.
16. Columns: President's letter; letters to the editor; guest columns; regular features such as "Q&A" of "Tech Talk."
17. Excerpts, reprints, or condensed versions of: Press releases; executive speeches; journal articles; technical papers; company seminars; etc.
18. Quality control stories: Quality circles; employee suggestion programs; new quality assurance methods; success rates; case histories.
19. Productivity stories: New programs; methods and systems to cut waste and boost efficiency.
20. Manufacturing stories: New techniques; equipment; raw materials; production line successes; detailed explanations of manufacturing processes; etc.
21. Community affairs: Fund raisers; special events; support for the arts; scholarship programs; social responsibility programs; environmental programs; employee and corporate participation in local/regional/national events.
22. Data processing stories: New computer hardware and software systems; improved data processing and its benefits to customers; new data processing applications; explanations of how systems serve customers.
23. Overseas activities: Reports on the company's international activities; profiles of facilities, people, markets, etc.
24. Service: Background on company service facilities; case histories of outstanding service activities; new services for customers; new hotlines; etc.
25. History: Articles of company, industry, product, community history.
26. Human resources: Company benefit programs; announcement of new benefits and training and how they improve service to customers; explanations of company policies.
27. Interviews: With company key employees, engineers, service personnel, etc.; with customers; with suppliers (to illustrate the quality of materials going into your company's products).
28. Forums: Top managers answer customer complaints and concerns; service managers discuss customer needs; customers share their favorable experiences with company products/ services.
29. Gimmicks: Contents; quizzes; puzzles; games; cartoons.