NewslettersCorporate blogs are growing in popularity, but don’t discount newsletters as powerful communications tools. I recently had a little disagreement on just this topic with Jason Falls at Social Media Explorer.

Jason wanted to convey the power of a blog and compared it to a newsletter.  I agree with him that blogs are accessible, cost less to produce than a print newsletter and are easy to update.  Where I disagree (and pointed out in a comment) is his unfair comparison to content that sounded like it came from the 1956 newsletter he used as illustration. Not many newsletters these days include “pictures of new hires, company softball team news” and “a list of birthdays”!

Today’s newsletter has much to offer, whether it’s in print or as an e-newsletter. Sent frequently enough, it can contain fresh news; less frequently, it should provide updates, analysis and perspective. A corporate newsletter can shine a spotlight on employee innovations and ingenuity, or provide the reasoning behind company decisions. Newsletters can and should explain how employees can support best practices or show how and why they’re providing solid customer service.

E-newsletters can do the same, with the added advantage of speed and links to other online content. Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen says few promotional efforts can claim the degree of “customer buy-in” enjoyed by e-newsletters. Readers he surveyed in 2010 appreciated that they were timely, informative and convenient. He encourages looking at newsletters as a long-term investment, saying that “they work their magic over time.”

Another newsletter fan is Michael Katz, who says a newsletter:

“…has the ability to position you as an expert, provides an opportunity to make an authentic connection and keeps you in front of prospects, referral sources and clients.”

As I told Jason, it’s not an either/or choice. I see a blog as a nice complement to an interesting, well-written newsletter. The blog can be all about current, fast-breaking news, while the newsletter provides a more in-depth explanation. But then, that’s my newsletter-loving bias showing.

Jason replied to my comment that:

“…like many corporate blogs, many corporate newsletters just plain suck. It is those I’m speaking to. Certainly a newsletter can be awesome. But those are rare birds.”

I’m not sure it’s all that rare, but I’ll agree that there’s work to be done in every form of communications to make sure the intended audience gets the message. That’s how to harness the power of these tools.

Illustration: jscreationzs and