Monday, March 23, 2009

Employee Newsletter: How a Newbie Writer Did It

I was recently hired by a former employer to help draft a monthly newsletter for its employees. Given that I haven't done this sort of project before, how should I go about it?

Thanks to the things I learned when I began my career in a PR agency, I used these questions to guide me: (1) Who are the readers? (2) What is the objective of the newsletter? and (3) What is the best way to write the newsletter to accomplish its objective given the profile of its readers?

The readership of the newsletter consist of twenty- to thirty-something employees of a successful dot-com. As the team continues to grow, communication between the management and the individual team members becomes more difficult. Day-to-day work gets in the way of proper dialogue.

The company, therefore, needed a way to inform the employees of the strategies it employs to grow the business, motivate them to take active part in these strategies and foster their pride and support for the company.

I was given ten-page document containing a laundry list of marketing activities and process improvements and my challenge was to cull pertinent bits of information from that document and organize those bits in a way that will be interesting and relevant to the readers. I won't go into detail about the tedious process of writing and rewriting the draft. I'm just glad that when I submitted the draft, my coordinator said changes, if ever, would be minimal.

Well, I'm hoping this will be the first of many similar projects.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I think blogging is overrated

I do find it ironic that I begin my foray into blogosphere by dissing the very medium I am using. However, with bloggers now being hailed as the new literati and companies falling all over themselves to curry their favor, I find myself feeling a bit skeptical about the power that bloggers hold.

Let me illustrate my point: Recently, I attended a brunch event which invited bloggers to preview a new technology. As the gadget has a wide range of use, the event organizer decided to invite bloggers of varied profiles. Still, imagine my surprise when one of the attendees started taking pictures of the food served rather than the gadget featured. Later on, I found out that the attendee writes a food blog and would, of course, focus on the food, not on the gadget. When I checked out her blog, it devoted at most two sentences saying that So-and-so Company hosted an event to introduce This-New-Thingie, and then a whole slew of pictures and dreamy descriptions on the fricassees, mimosas and sauces. It's like Microsoft inviting a Bon Apetit editor to preview and write about Microsoft Vista. Logically, there's not much that the blogger can say about the gadget (since it is not her area of expertise - or interest, for that matter), and even if she does write about it in her blog, the write-up would appear forced, which is just as bad.

This led me to wonder at the thinking behind appealing to a blogger whose blog is so irrelevant to one's cause (or conversely, one's cause is so irrelevant to her blog). I hope the organizer didn't invite her just to fill an empty seat, but if the organizer thought that this particular blogger could contribute to the discussion about the gadget, then the thinking was that any blogger would do, meaning that any blogger that would write about a particular topic is bound to influence the discussion on that topic.

I think blogging is overrated because of the influence ascribed to them. Yes, some bloggers do hold some influence. But only if they are credible, especially regarding the topic a hand. I'm sure that Ms. Foodie Blogger has a lot to say about fricassees, mimosas and sauces, and her readers may treat her word as law when it comes to all things gastronomic, but ask her to talk about something totally out of her area of expertise or interest, then, either she won't (as what happened here), or if she did, she wouldn't be credible.