Archive for September, 2011

Using photo captions in newsletters

September 23rd, 2011

One of the most useful little tools available through email service providers is the “add caption” device, part of the menu available when formatting a photograph or other image in your news. When do you need captions, and when do you not? This depends on the purpose of your pictures. If they are mostly decorative, enhancing your theme but not adding information to your story, then omit them. But if they add to your story, captions are a good idea.

As an example, I’ll mention again the e-newsletter I’ve been working on, the one about humane and environmentally sustainable poultry. I’ve used captions to describe the chicks arriving at the farm, eating worms, etc. But in the “worm eating” caption I don’t just say “chicks eating worms,” which is obvious, but “chicks learning how to eat worms.” This adds to the story because it tells the reader something new: Chicks actually have to learn how to eat worms. They are little guys growing up.

I know, it’s sentimental, but imagine the appeal to readers!

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Using pictures in newsletters

September 21st, 2011

I’m just finishing up a delightful project–an e-newsletter for a client who raises poultry in a humane and environmentally healthy way. One of the things that makes the project so much fun is the pictures of the chickens themselves, when they are chicks learning how to eat worms, or fully-fledged birds foraging in the woods (the secret of their flavor). Because it’s the first newsletter, there is a great deal the client wants to say. We’ve been able to break up the copy not only with headlines but with charming photos. It’s a great example of how graphics and content unite to engage the reader.

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Writing powerful mission statements for hospitals

September 16th, 2011

In my last post I urged you to start your mission with research, not with writing. “Don’t worry about the words, just concentrate on the ideas.” Presumably you’ve put together a committee to collect ideas, and now your committee–let’s call it a team–is all together in one room, with a great big white board and several colors of dry erase markers, some post-its and 3×5 cards.

Start by posting ideas, words, images–brainstorming, until you begin to sense people getting engaged, excited about what’s showing up on the board. Look for phrases taking shape, but don’t under any circumstances try to put sentences together!

Next time, how to start giving shape to your mission statement.

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Writing a powerful mission statement for your hospital

September 13th, 2011

As I wrote in a recent article, mission statements are often written by committee. What’s wrong with committees? Nothing! No offense intended! But a committee working on a mission statement is more concerned with getting all the right ideas into the statement than whether the mission statement makes sense, or gets your point across, or is even readable. Ideally, a mission statement has the power of a slogan–so that it can be memorized by everyone who needs to know it, with much more information than a slogan can carry.

What is to be done? Certainly you don’t want just one or two people to write your mission statement. One solution is to start with your sources, collecting all the ideas that might be reflected in your statement. Have you been around for 100 years? (not all that unusual for a hospital!). Look at your history–what services have you been providing over the past century, or decade, for that matter. Talk to your board, your senior managers, your patients.

In other words, start not with writing but research. Don’t worry about the words, just look for the ideas!

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