Whether you're responsible for a project, a department, a division, or a company, publishing an internal newsletter — by email, Web page, SharePoint, Facebook, whatever — can be an effective means of keeping stakeholders informed about what has happened, what is happening, what you believe will happen, and what you believe won't happen.
A newsletter can become the authoritative source of information about the effort. Although it can establish you as someone who truly understands the importance of stakeholder relations, there is a risk. You don't want to flood readers with information they consider irrelevant to their special interests.
Here are some tips for creating a newsletter that informs but does not overwhelm your stakeholders.
- Keeping people in the dark is expensive
- If you don't keep stakeholders informed, you're leaving space for them to make stuff up. Publishing what you do know is far more effective than letting others make up what they don't know.
- Make it a quick list of short items
- Limit the length of each item to the length of a tweet — about 140 characters. Most people don't want to read long dissertations.
- Make each item a headline, nothing more
- Full explanations are unnecessary. Each item can be little more than a teaser to let the reader know what the impact is. Use the "So What?" test to develop a headline. See "Deliver the Headline First," Point Lookout for May 3, 2006, for more.
- Include a link to a more detailed explanation
- Since some people do need more detail, you must provide it, but don't subject everyone to the full story. Write a more detailed explanation for your intranet site and link to it in the newsletter.
- Squelching rumors is perfectly acceptable
- Some people feel that denying rumors gives them wider circulation, but if you've heard the rumor, almost everyone else has, too, and thus wider circulation isn't really an issue. Squelch rumors, but be right about what you say. See "There Is No Rumor Mill," Point Lookout for March 26, 2003, for more.
- Get out in front of rumors
- If you'll Some people feel that denying
rumors gives them wider circulation,
but if you've heard the rumor,
almost everyone else has, toobe doing something that you expect will be controversial, why wait for rumors to form? If you get there first with real information, you're less likely to have to deal with rumors.
- Feature people and teams who contribute to success
- Short features describing the talents and contributions of key people are interesting to your stakeholders for the same reasons that features are interesting to news consumers in the media generally. Give the enterprise the information they need to gain a true appreciation of the efforts of the people you feature.
- Feature new people
- Use your newsletter to introduce people who are new to the effort. Tell your stakeholders about their background and about the contributions you anticipate.
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More articles on Effective Communication at Work:
- When we take time to express to others our appreciation for what they do for us, a magical thing happens.
- See No Evil
- When teams share information among themselves, they have their best opportunity to reach peak performance.
And when some information is withheld within an elite group, the team faces unique risks.
- When You Aren't Supposed to Say: III
- Most of us have information that's "company confidential," or even more sensitive than that.
Sometimes people who want to know what we know try to suspend our ability to think critically. Here
are some of their techniques.
- Dismissive Gestures: I
- Humans are nothing if not inventive. In the modern organization, where verbal insults are deprecated,
we've developed hundreds of ways to insult each other silently (or nearly so). Here's part one of a
catalog of non-verbal insults.
- Towards More Gracious Disagreement
- We spend a sizable chunk of time correcting each other. Some believe that we win points by being right,
or lose points by being wrong, but nobody seems to know who keeps the official score. Here are some
thoughts to help you kick the habit.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming March 28: Four Overlooked Email Risks: II
- Email exchanges are notorious for exposing groups to battles that would never occur in face-to-face conversation. But email has other limitations, less-often discussed, that make managing dialog very difficult. Here's Part II of an exploration of some of those risks. Available here and by RSS on March 28.
- And on April 4: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: III
- People who behave narcissistically tend to regard themselves as special. They systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this part of the series we consider how this claimed specialness affects the organization and its people. Available here and by RSS on April 4.
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- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.