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How To Engage People with Newsletters

How To Engage People with Newsletter

In this world of social media, email newsletters are making a comeback.  

 

The Skimm — the popular newsletter that sends conversational bits of news to its 4 million daily subscribers — has proven that e-mail is not dead.

 

Digital newsletters are all the fad right now. And churches can jump on this trend, but only if it’s what the congregation wants, explained Phil de Haan, senior public relations specialist at Calvin College.

 

“Good communication is part of what allows organizations to flourish and thrive,” he said, adding that a digital newsletter can reach both internal and external audiences.

 

Before launching a newsletter, church leaders should do some research to see if there is a desire for one from the congregation. It may be, de Haan said, that other forms of communication are a better fit. But if a church does want a newsletter, the next step is deciding if the church has the manpower to create one a regular basis.

 

“If you establish a weekly newsletter, for example, that means someone at the church has that on their plate once a week,” he said. “It can take significant time to produce good, engaging content. So make sure the person or persons in charge of getting the newsletter out have the capacity to do the job.”

 

The other part of the equation is determining how often a newsletter should go out — weekly, monthly or bi-monthly. Again, de Haan said, ask congregants what they prefer.

 

That could determine if the church’s print newsletter should be discontinued — if they have one.

 

“One of the struggles churches and other organizations face in this digital era is that often what we do as communicators is additive. We add a church Facebook page, we add a church Twitter feed, we add a digital newsletter, etc. But we don’t drop anything,” de Haan said.

 

Sometimes that’s OK, as long as there remains a demand for all communication channels.

 

De Haan said if a church decides to move forward with a digital newsletter there are certain things the product should include.

 

“I think the best features in a church newsletter are ones that are repeatable. Once you start promising something people come to expect it. So, don’t bite off more than you can chew, especially early on,” he said.

 

He said to keep things short and simple and include a mix of content. Informational and calendar items are important, as is “big picture type of stuff,” like information on a new sermon series. Member profiles, new member photos and bios and a list of birthdays are also features to consider.

 

De Haan uses Mailchimp to send out the monthly newsletters he creates for Calvin Collegehymnary.org and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Mailchimp is free when a newsletter has less than 2,000 subscribers.  Other popular newsletter platforms are Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor.

 

Whatever platform a church chooses, de Haan said it’s important not to spam subscribers. Get permission to send them the newsletter, and give them the option to unsubscribe and manage their email preferences.

 

Finally, he said, once the newsletter is launched it’s crucial to check in with users to see if it’s meeting their needs.

 

“Do what research you can to understand your public, your audience, and create a newsletter that is based on that research,” he said, “and that will serve your audience in ways they have told you will be meaningful to them.”

 

 

 

Check out these newsletters and resources from our Affiliate Partners:

Academy Of Preaching And Celebration and The Center for Pastoral Excellence Newsletters Subscribe

Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) most recent surveys.

 

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada The Commission on Accrediting newsletter subscribe
 
American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Newsletter for members
 

Theological Librarianship: An Online Journal of the American Theological Library Association

 

Auburn Theological Seminary: Center for the Study of Theological Education email updates

 

Calvin Institute Of Christian Worship mailing list

 

Center For Congregations News and Resources

 

Center For Pastoral Excellence Blog and Articles

 

Christian Classics Ethereal Library Community Forums

 

Congregational Resource Guide

 

Discipleship Project Newsletter

 

Faith & Leadership Subscribe to the Newsletter

 

Faith Communities Today Newsletter

 

Forum For Theological Exploration (FTE) Resources

 

 
Hymnary.Org Email List

 

On Being with Krista Tippett

 

Exiles from Eden, Sponsored by the Lilly Fellows Program Follow Blog

 

National Study Of Youth And Religion Sign up for updates

 

New Media Project for Christian Theological Seminary Sign Up for Updates

 

On Scripture News Releases

 

Pastoral Excellence Network updates

 

Programs For The Theological Exploration Of Vocation (PTEV) Offerings

 

Pulpit & Pew, Research on Pastoral Leadership Publications

 

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (PBS) Calendar and Email Sign Up

 

Religion Newswriters Association And Foundation Get Updates and Top 10 Stories for 2016

 

U.S. Congregational Life Survey Resources

 

U.S. Religion Census newsletter

 

Wabash Center For Teaching And Learning In Theology And Religion Teaching Links Newsletter

 

 

 

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