News is information people dont know about. A letter is a relaxed style of writing. And a newsletter is a very useful tool for keeping union members in the loop and involving them in the locals activities.
A successful newsletter is always a group effort, tapping into the talent and energy of as many people in the local as possible. Here are some other tips for success:
- Keep your newsletter full of whats new and write in a simple, easy-to-read manner.
- Use lots of familiar names and local references. Make people, not things, the centre of your stories.
- Publish the facts. Keep your members informed about whats happening in the workplace, the local union and your community labour scene.
- Issue your newsletter often. A short, regularly published newsletter gets members used to seeing it.
- Make sure you have your facts straight and pay attention to details. Members care about how their names are spelled. Your credibility is on the line.
- Use design tricks, cartoons and photographs to give your newsletter reader appeal.
- Invite members to contribute their skills, e.g., writing stories, computer layout or sketching cartoons.
- Draft an editorial policy and publish it. The newsletter is an open forum for all members but the local union is responsible for respecting individual rights, legalities and editing items for good taste.
- Consider the diversity of your membership. Can your newsletter be read by all members? Are there ways to reach out to reflect cultural and language differences?
- Ask your rep about Communications workshops offered during education schools. On occasion, special sessions can be arranged for groups or newsletter design templates can be created for locals.
NOTE: Have your local union join CALM, the Canadian Association of Labour Media. CALM supports local newsletter editors and provides up-to-date union news, good graphics and cartoons. It also sponsors schools to train people on how to do a good newsletter. (For more info, see CALM in the Resources section.)
Newsletter Distribution Ideas
A newsletter has to get to people to get read. Here are some tips about how to get it into members hands:
- Circulation boosters puzzles, quizzes, contests, raffles (a free dinner for two, or a movie?).
- Workplace handout provides direct contact with members.
- Start a CUPE Communicator/1 in 10 network system.
- Employer office mail system where practical.
- Faxing to departments or members homes where available.
- E-mailing to members with home computers or posting on the local union web site.
- Direct mail to members homes where it can be read by spouses and children, too.
- Remember to put it on the union bulletin board.
- Consider wider distribution; other unions, local politicians, local reporters or labour publications