Don't rush headfirst into newsletter production without deciding what you are trying to accomplish. The purpose should be discussed among the officers and written out for the chapter's permanent files. Precise, well-planned, written objectives will make the editor's job easier and help resolve the disposition of questionable content material. The following suggestions for objectives are based on an analysis of several existing newsletters published by SHRM chapters:
- To create and maintain a favorable image of an active chapter working for the professional development of its members.
- To keep the membership informed of chapter projects, activities and upcoming meetings.
- To disseminate relevant professional information viewed as beneficial to the members.
Keep the objectives simple, explicit and understandable. They should function as criteria by which to measure the acceptability of any material considered for publication.
DUTIES OF THE EDITOR
With the basic objectives agreed upon, the next step is to select the editor, who should be involved in the final formulation of the objectives. The editor should be well-respected, dedicated worker with a proven ability to achieve desired results. The editor will bear the burden of budgeting, establishing a reporting network, planning issues, writing the final copy for each issue and coordinating production of the newsletter.
Their responsibilities should include:
- Determine the budget for a year's issues (based on quantity to be ordered each issue.)
- Determine newsletter format.
- Determine a production schedule.
- Act as a liaison with the executive committee.
- Plan issues content in conjunction with the officers.
- Establishing a reporting network.
- Gather and report news and other items of general interest.
- Plan photography needs.
- Take or contract for pictures at chapter functions.
- Assume responsibility for content accuracy.
- Plan issue layout.
- Confer with and plan production with printer.
- Determine quantity to be ordered in conjunction with chapter secretary.
- Coordinate distribution in conjunction with chapter secretary.
- Maintain a back issue file for future reference.
- Send a copy to each issue to SHRM headquarters.
Depending on the size of the chapter and availability of volunteers, it may be beneficial to delegate some of these responsibilities to an assistant editor, a chapter reporter, and a chapter photographer.
ESTABLISH A REPORTING NETWORK
Perhaps the most difficult task of the new editor is developing a liaison with sources of potential stories. The editor's main objective in this regard is to maintain feedback with sources. If the newsletter is a one-person operation, the editor will not have time to research items for each issue. Ideally, the editor should generate a network of reporters that constantly provide information suitable for publication. Be prepared, however, to seek news through phone calls, postcards, etc. It won't necessarily flow in otherwise. The reporting network should operate in both the upper echelons and grassroots level of the chapter.
- The officer should inform the editor of any new concepts, activities or other projects not discussed in the executive committee meetings. The goal is to have nothing new come up without the editor being aware of it.
- The committee chairperson should regularly inform the editor about the status of their projects.
- The secretary should report names of new members and the relocation of existing members.
- Individual members should be encouraged to report on new HR concepts put to use within their organizations, such as work incentive programs or efforts to improve productivity.
- Individual members should be encouraged to inform the editor of any HR problems encountered by their organization that may be common to the general membership, such as problems with regulatory agencies or other legal compliance problems, warnings about unscrupulous suppliers, etc.
With the details of objectives, sources and format out of the way, you can now concentrate directly on content. You have a head start because your objectives tell you what the newsletter should accomplish. Writing and design should be simple, brief and easy to read. Remember, a newsletter is designed for quick assimilation of information. The newsletter should probably include all or most of the following items.
Camera-ready SHRM logos are available
- Program and meeting notices.
- Status reports of ongoing projects.
- Outlines of future projects.
- A summary of the last program.
- SHRM news of significance.
- Outstanding achievements of members.
- Introduction of new members.
- Summaries of workshops and seminars.
- Legislative reports.
- Regional SHRM news.
- Pictures of newsworthy events.
- Committee assignments.
to chapters that wish to incorporate it into their newsletters.
Deliver the final copy ready for production to the printer along with complete instructions regarding:
- Number of pages.
- Sheet size/page size.
- Halftone (photograph) locations.
- Paper stock.
- Ink color.
- Binding (folding, stapling).
Planning distribution should begin well before the printing stage. The factors to consider include:
- The maintenance of a membership mailing list.
- The maintenance of a promotional mailing list.
- The mechanics of labeling (addressing).
- The mechanics of metering postage.
The chapter secretary usually maintains the necessary membership records. However, for a newsletter, you need the capacity to address labels. The best method of producing mailing labels is to store the membership records in a computer program to print out self-adhesive or cheshire (for machine application) labels.
If the chapter does not have access to a computer through a member's company, the best alternative is to maintain a manual system for stamping addresses with metal plates for direct for image stamping, or paper addressograph plate for spirit transfer (ditto) printing.
It's also important to maintain a chapter promotional list to keep interested parties aware of the chapter's activities, for example, Chamber of Commerce, prospective members, SHRM officers, and SHRM headquarters.
If the chapter utilizes computer-produced Cheshire labels for machine application, arrange for the printer or a commercial mailing service to affix the labels to the newsletter. Self-adhesive or direct stamping labels can be applied by the editor or designated officer.
For the sake of convenience, whoever handles the labeling should also meter the newsletter with proper postage.
Allow sufficient lead time for the newsletter to reach members and still remain a timely source of news-especially when the forthcoming meeting announcements are included. With the increasing problems of mail handling encountered each year, observation of recommended procedures will work to the chapter's advantage. The US Postal Service has online guidelines for mailing available on their Web site.
With proper concept planning, selection of production personnel and sufficient member cooperation, the chapter newsletter should be a success.
For additional information, contact the Member Relations Department at SHRM.
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