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School E-Newsletters 101

Administrators will enjoy these helpful school public relations tips shared by EducationWorld Community blogger Maris Callahan. Be sure to read all of her great advice on PR for schools.

An e-newsletter is a low-cost, efficient and simple way to communicate with an audience, whether you intend to reach parents, teachers or your extended community.

Maris Callahan

If your school does not have a large budget for public relations activities but wants to communicate with the community in a meaningful way, it is important to create an interesting and consistent document that people will look forward to and most of all, want to open and read. 

Determine the e-newsletter's purpose.  If you are working on an e-newsletter, decide up front whether you want it to be promotional or marketing oriented, informative or relationship building. Whether you are trying to entice parents to contribute to school fundraisers or promote events or spread news and information, let your readers know what direction the publication will take, and stick to it. This will help you develop a loyal, engaged following. 

Use a reliable distribution service.  You don't need to be a graphic designer to create a professional, well-designed newsletter. Programs like MailChimp and iContact offer templates and development options so that all you will need to do is write the content and hit send. Some services also allow you to store your contacts and distribution lists in their databases--so you won't need to worry about your inbox crashing and losing all of your hard-earned contacts. 

Use graphics, but don't go overboard.  Photos and graphics, especially if they are original images, can add a lot to an e-newsletter, especially in a world where inboxes are already cluttered and people "read with their eyes." However, the more images you use, the longer the newsletter will take to load and the more likely readers may be to delete it. Keep images to thumbnail size or a resolution of no more than 72 DPI (dots per inch) to keep them computer monitor-friendly. 

Set and stick to a schedule.  If you distribute news consistently, your readers will know when to expect them. Whether it's weekly or quarterly, develop a timeline and let readers know how often the newsletter is distributed. If people sign up for an email that they think they'll receive monthly and it comes every day, they may become annoyed and eventually unsubscribe. 

Archive issues on your Web site.  If you are distributing newsletters frequently, people may delete them to make room in their inboxes. Archive all of your back issues on your Web site, which is good for Search Engine Optimization and will allow readers constant access to your news and information.

About the author

A social media expert, freelance writer and public relations professional for many high-profile companies, Maris Callahan is the author and publisher of the food blog In Good Taste and the new Chicago online lifestyle magazine My Daily Find Chicago.


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