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Are Newsletters Dead?

by Tom Johnson on Feb 17, 2007 •
categories: bloggingtechnical-writing

In a recent survey we did with our chapter, 75% of the members said the blog was sufficient, and that we don't need to bring back the chapter newsletter.


We archived our newsletter about 2 years ago because each newsletter editor kept getting burned out. When we converted our site to a blog, members contributed to it but the posts were not really articles as much as announcements., job listings, or requests for advice.

I asked the newsletter question in the survey because I'd heard from a couple of members how they missed the newsletter. I was ready to ask someone to bring it back, but you know, the newsletter is dead. I absolutely hate getting e-newsletters in my inbox. The form seems dated to 1995.

Do you have a corporate newsletter? I am hoping that SharePoint 2007, which includes both blog and wiki functionality, will encourage the use of the blog as the basic template for newsletters in the corporate setting.

Newsletters are burdensome to read. A colleague explained to me that she simply doesn't have time to read a newsletter. You have to print it out, sit down, take time out of your day, etc. You feel a responsibility to read it because someone in the chapter went to all the trouble. But it's really not something you want to read.

On the other hand, the blog allows you to check information when you're in the mood. It doesn't clog your inbox. You don't have to decide, when you get the email, whether to delete, archive, flag, or read it. You read on your time.

That said, I was surfing the Puget Sound Chapter's site last week, and one of the first things I looked for was the newsletter. I was interested to see what was going on in the chapter. Still, I would have preferred a blog. Easier to peruse, especially from month to month.

The only thing our chapter blog lacks is more informative, topic-based articles. However, not many members actually read the articles in Intercom and Tech Comm, so I doubt they are are pouring over articles in newsletters.

Do you agree with me that newsletters are dead?

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.