A well-written and presented print newsletter, magazine or bulletin will always have its place in effective internal or external communications, complementing, rather than cowing down to, its bold, brash and exciting digital and social media siblings.
As Acceleris’s senior copywriter, whose bread and butter is in project managing regular publications and newsletters, I can appreciate that returning to the same familiar projects every couple of months can often be like stepping into your comfort zone, grabbing a big duvet and getting cosy. But how do you keep a regular publication from looking same-y or boring after a while? Instead of going through the motions, I make it my challenge, and that of our graphic designers, to think of ways to make this issue different, and therefore hopefully better, than the last.
Here are some of my top tips for injecting a bit of life into a long-standing publication:
1) Treat it to a face lift. If you’re thinking it’s looking a bit stale and not much has changed after a couple of years, chances are your readers are thinking the same.
2) Brainstorm. Grab a pot of tea, some biscuits and a team of creative minds and gather around a table. It doesn’t even have to be a long meeting – it’s amazing what you can achieve in 15 minutes. Get attendees to bring in an effective column or design feature they’ve spotted (and liked) recently and discuss it. Write down all ideas, however far-flung. Too many ideas are better than too few, and you can always stagger them over the next few issues.
3) Less is more. Text heavy articles full of statistics can put some readers off, where a bold graphic containing the stats and some concise copy would work much better. Bear in mind there will be exceptions to this depending on the type and audience of your publication e.g. more corporate annual reports are geared towards more text and detail, and their audience will expect this.
4) Maximise key messages. Highlight one-liners, testimonials and killer quotes to emphasise important messages in your copy.
5) Stick to a word count. Agree a maximum word count for articles and stick to it. This will help you to keep your copy as concise as possible, maximise associated photography and graphics and avoid overfilling pages with blocky text.
This is the first of two blog instalments over the next fortnight about keeping publications fresh. The next, authored by one of our favourite graphic design partners, Ben Thompson of How About Solutions, will explore visual ideas in more depth. Look out for it.
To view some of the publications we produce and find out more about our copywriting department, visit the Editorial Services page of our website.