Quick sources for newsletter content

February 24th, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

A colleague just put me on to sciencedaily.com for latest news in just about every scientific field including health and medicine. Now, if you are thinking serious research, of course, you’ll be on your way to PubMed. But if you are just hoping to spice up your enews, or pick a new topic that somehow jibes with your quarterly print news, this might be a great place to get you started with new ideas, concepts, something to draw your reader in.

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What would Charles Dickens say in your newsletter?

February 8th, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

Today is the 200th birthday of Dickens, and I know this because Google is celebrating with one of its specially drawn logos.

Why am I writing about Dickens when my topic is supposed to be newsletters? Because the energy that Dickens threw into all his writing is one reason we still read him. (A moment ago I fell into “Bleak House,” a virtual copy of which Google kindly provided. Now I  think I will have to order my own copy. But never mind.)

You can tell that Dickens is having a terrific time telling you his stories–and that he is very much aware of his audience. Even the names of his characters express his pleasure: the hypocrite Uriah Heep and Bumble the beadle in “Oliver Twist,” for example.

When you are preparing copy for your newsletter or your monthly email, how much of your own energy is evident? I don’t mean that you need lively, chatty copy–your tone will vary with your subject, of course. But what words are you using for color? And are you aware of your own feelings about your subject?

The more engaged you are, the more will your readers be. Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

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Inviting and communicating patient engagement

February 5th, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

I’m finishing up an article for a client about using IT to build patient engagement. What is patient engagement, anyway? It’s patient involvement in their own care: When they know, for example, what their lab results are, understand what their doctor is advising them to do, and take it all seriously.

If you are a hospital or clinic, are you encouraging patient engagement–or highlighting it–in your newsletters? Do your patients know that you are committed to the new federal standards and incentives for patient engagement? Do they know that you offer email communication to make appointments and obtain health stats? That you are making mobile devices available to your clinicians to help patients understand what’s wrong and get better?

This is a great new avenue for improvement in quality of care and patient satisfaction–tell the world!

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When is it better to be silent? The Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle

February 3rd, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

Something went wrong with my web hosting just after my last post, so I’ve been silent for a while. Better, I thought, to be silent than to send people to a very old, very clunky version of my site.

This raises the question of when to stay silent, or quiet, and when to speak openly about a difficult issue. No doubt you have already heard the story of how the Susan G. Komen Foundation decided to cut funding to its long-time partner, Planned Parenthood. Here’s an excellent post by Kivi Leroux Miller with her perspective on Komen’s disastrous public relations non-strategy.

As Kivi says, regardless of your position on women’s health, what do you think of the way Komen has handled their announcement? This is a painful, painful learning experience for anyone with an audience or a set of loyal followers. Komen’s public statements have been destructive–in this case, would silence have been worse?

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Tips for keeping your email content the right length

January 7th, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

I’m someone who loves learning new things–about almost anything, whether it’s the wood pulp industry, wine making, free-range chickens . . . you name it, I’m curious about it.

But what I have to do is remind myself of who I’m writing for. Not everyone wants more than the basics–and when they do want more, they can look it up, with links I provide them or just by relying on Good Old Google.

The key point with email news is to keep the content brief, easy to read, with short sentences and ample white spaces. I usually start by sketching out a passage, then building a simple mock template in Word and seeing what the passage looks like–usually much too long!

Emails are meant to engage, build a relationship, with education as a not very close second. Always know not only what you have said, but how it looks on the page!

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Starting fresh in the new year

January 5th, 2012 by worddrive No comments »

This morning we took all the ornaments off the Christmas tree, including the angel at the top and the lights, put everything away, and dragged the tree out the door. Little green, sticky needles everywhere! But the new vacuum cleaner did the cleanup well, and now the living room looks great and ready for the new year.

Some new tool at the start of the year can make a big difference, even if it’s writing you’ve got to do, not sweeping out evergreen needles. What is your new tool? Some social media platform? A blog of your very own? A resolution to keep your Twitter page filled with new content? If you are a hospital, are you finally launching your Facebook page?

Stimulate your energies and efforts with something new this month.

Whatever it is, you have my best wishes.

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Guidelines for adding names to email contact lists

December 15th, 2011 by worddrive No comments »

This is a somewhat grey area. Email marketing that is permission-based assumes you are sending to people who have, indeed, given you permission to mail to them. This is the kind of marketing that starts with a relationship and builds on it.

But, what about people who have not, strictly speaking, given you permission, but know your business and, you suspect, might welcome hearing from you monthly?  Here’s how one leading email service provider puts it:

“When in Doubt, Ask for Permission – Not sure if someone would want to receive your emails? Simply ask them! If they say no, add them to your Do Not Mail list so you don’t mail to them by mistake in the future.”

And remember that, if you’ve set things up right, how easy it is to unsubscribe!

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How often to send your email news

December 12th, 2011 by worddrive No comments »

It’s quite striking to me how often a new email marketer will express anxiety about bothering subscribers with “too many emails.” They worry that sending more than once a quarter will be annoying and that they will lose their audience.

The fact is that if your subscribers are people who have signed up to receive your news, then they are looking forward to hearing from you, and once a month is a very small part of all the emails that come through an average inbox (take a look at yours!)

Furthermore, if your email message is done right, you are engaging your readers by providing them with useful information. You are building trust, and the expectation that your email is worth opening.

Of course, it’s true that if you are sending email blasts, with rented lists of people who don’t have a clue who you are, you are likely to be sent to the junk mail folder right away.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it! You’ve asked permission, and your format makes it easy for those few who, after all, just can’t stand one more monthly email.

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What is the best timing for an email marketing campaign?

November 25th, 2011 by worddrive No comments »

The research for this remains a bit fuzzy. Should you send weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Do you risk losing subscribers if you send “too often”?

There are two basic types of email marketing: direct selling, and relationship building. Direct selling is, for example, those emails you get from stores like Land’s End offering free shipping and a 25% discount on everything until the end of the month. (Believe me, I know–I ordered gloves, a silk chemise, and a gorgeous burnt orange pea coat immediately–but, never mind.)

Emails focused on relationship building may have, as their larger goal, an increase in revenue, or patients or clients, but they are not seeking an immediate purchase. I’m sure you see these in your inbox from time to time. A winery, for example, may want to educate and engage readers as much as to make a lot of sales. This is partly because the world of wine itself assumes a degree of interest, knowledge, and sophistication.

A weekly email from Linen Source, or the afore-mentioned Land’s End, or another favorite, Absolute Socks, is simply an alert to the chance to buy on line. I’m not being asked to think, meditate, support a cause, or educate myself. I like the products, and I like to be reminded, and I don’t hesitate to delete–after all, the Socks people are just doing their job, right?

But to hear more than once a month from a group that is mainly building a relationship is more likely to be an annoyance than anything else. So, be careful!

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Writing elevator speeches: tips when you are in difficulty

November 22nd, 2011 by worddrive No comments »

Who has no difficulty coming up with a pithy, short, easily memorized elevator speech? Raise your hands! Oh, there’s one person in the back. Tell us how you arrived at your elevator speech? Your mother helped you? Really? Did she charge you anything? No, she just knows you really well! Someone else? There, under the poster of Napolean Bonaparte–tell us how you put your speech together. You paid a consultant? Wow. Was it worth it? What did this consultant do? They looked at your website and emailed a couple of choices to you? Were you happy with the results? No?

You get my drift, I hope. There’s a challenge to capturing the essence of who you are. If you are a hospital, you already have a very good mission statement, right? But if you are an individual, you need others to tell you what you see. An elevator speech is a little like the answer to the question, Who am I? It touches on a part of you that may not show up in your financials. That’s why an elevator speech should never be written only by one person.

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