If anyone knows how not to produce a newsletter, it's Elaine Floyd of Newsletter Resources, in St. Louis. Floyd, an author of books and newsletters about newsletters, reads an average of 10 newsletters a week. Below are some of her dos and don'ts:
? Don't run a welcome letter from the chairman.
? Do print a letter that is insightful. Take advantage of the fact that you, as chief executive, are knowledgeable about the industry. No need to water it down. Spice it up with controversial opinions.
? Don't run long, boring narratives about employees.
? Do write stories that profile employees' skills. Talk about their on-the-job expertise rather than their hobbies, and focus on how they apply their knowledge, so that by reading the stories your customers can learn how to run their businesses better.
? Don't confuse your newsletter with a brochure.
? Do sell the company in a creative way. Feature customers in a problem-solution format. Run a headline that states the problem and then show how your company solved it.
? Don't forget that readers may want to contact you.
? Do help readers learn more about your company. You can do that with a reply card offering special reports, consultations, contests, a World Wide Web address, or simply a telephone number to call. In fact, you can print your telephone number on every page of the newsletter.
If you're thinking about producing a newsletter, and writing greeting cards gives you writer's block, consider Floyd's book. The Newsletter Editor's Desk Book is especially useful for first-time newsletter writers, but even old hands will benefit from advice that ranges from how to interview people to how to befriend technology. To order the book ($21.95, including shipping), call 800-264-6305 or check out Floyd's Web site (http://www.newsletterinfo.com).