Smith Bits

Q: What's long, folds neatly and is utterly unforgettable?

Just about every business communication campaign includes some form of a newsletter – a document that succinctly, accurately and generally (and sometimes fully) communicates who, what, when, where and why something important is happening. Most company newsletters are crafted as the central hub of a campaign to engage and inform audiences.

Sadly, these corporate publications often fail to engage their readers and most never achieve their goal of effectively delivering key messages. The content is usually rock solid . . . but the failure occurs almost immediately on the reader’s end.

Instead of seeing your carefully crafted assembly of useful information, they often see a boring, cautious and dated design. Before they even read one word, your precious communique (that went through 9 rounds of edits and painstaking reviews) slips right into the recycle bin.  

How can you blame readers when you realize your newsletter is competing with so much for their undivided attention?  (Let’s see, I can read this corporate newsletter or check out the new episode of Game of Thrones, Instagram, or maybe The Voice . . . hmm, I wonder who wins?)

What’s a communicator to do?  Fight back with some innovation.  One such approach is to rethink and reorganize the display of information to make it unique from a traditional publication.  If you have decided a print piece is needed that summarizes your messages, consider using an accordion-fold sheet of paper for your newsletter to create a new and different way of presenting the information.

Essentially a “dangler” newsletter (so called because it dangles when you hold it up and let it unravel) is a sheet of paper with four or more panels on one side that fold into each other.  Each panel can then have its own content, related of course to the general subject at hand.  With this approach you are now able to create content in bite-size, easy-to-digest chunks. And you increase engagement because you handed your reader something that truly stands out in a crowd.

So, the next time you huddle with leaders and managers to discuss the strategy about communicating a new issue . . . think about doing something different that your associates might actually read.  Try a dangler!

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