Newsletter frequency(Updated in September 2016)

A colleague once mentioned that her company had a small print employee newsletter. They published it three times a year, but were thinking of dropping the frequency to twice and increasing the size.

My first reaction was dismay. No matter what the format, print or electronic, twice a year is just too little to engage employees.

It’s possible employees were getting all the information they needed online or in person. If that was the case, you could certainly reduce the frequency. And in that case, you might as well just go with once and make it an employee annual report. But it didn’t sound like that was the situation, especially when it appeared employee engagement was an issue.

Like many areas of communications, the answer to newsletter frequency appears to be the not-so-helpful “it depends.”

  • You want your publication to be seen often enough that it’s familiar, maybe even expected or anticipated, but not so often that it’s annoying.
  • You want the content to be timely enough to be useful, but not so infrequent that it’s out of date.
  • You want it to complement the information available elsewhere (online in the case of print), providing the background and perspective, rather than rehashing the once fast-breaking news that has become old news.

To answer the “how often” question more precisely, go back to your strategy and the reason for the publication. And notice I am talking here about any kind of publication, print or online. How often do you need to publish to serve your purpose?

  • Once is fine for an annual report or anniversary celebration, but don’t call it a newsletter.
  • Save two or three times a year for a special report, complemented by more frequent online information. An IABC contact on Twitter said her company’s three issues a year aren’t enough, and she’d like to see a shorter, more concise monthly newsletter.
  • Monthly is a nice regular way to keep employees informed and to encourage a connection to the company. Mario Almonte, a partner at a PR firm in New York, says a monthly newsletter “keeps your employees engaged but not overwhelmed.”
  • Quarterly isn’t bad if you complement it with frequent news online. Employee communications evangelist Steve Crescenzo said in an email exchange that he prefers quarterly because he finds people don’t have time to turn out a quality monthly publication. On Twitter, communications professional Karen DeBreau said quarterly “seems ideal” for her 12-page publication, produced in five languages (!) for a global organization of 5,500 employees.
  • Short weekly or even daily updates aren’t too often if your company is undergoing major upheaval.

Respected strategic communications expert Les Potter, ABC, says this: “Communicate frequently. A more frequent and cheaper…publication is always better than a more expensive, less frequent publication.”

And don’t worry that employees are drowning in information. Sure, their in-boxes are overflowing. But you know yourself that when you get something of value, you’ll read it no matter how much else is in your in-box. And that’s the other key — VALUE.

Please weigh in. What do you think is the best frequency?

Image: graur razvan ionut and