Canít Find Good Newsletter Items

Here are 29 good places to look

ByRobert 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.