Family newsletters are a fun way to keep in touch. In a world of rapid social media updates, sometimes it's nice to receive all the information of your family's goings-on in one place.
Choose a Format
Newsletters can be distributed electronically or in print. Each format has its benefits and potential drawbacks.
Easily distributed via email or on a website, this newsletter option is less expensive than print distribution. Recipients can read the newsletter on any device (or print it out to read, if they so desire). You can also add extra elements and moving graphics or hyperlinks to videos within an electronic newsletter.
The advantage to print is recipients do not need to have access to a device to access the newsletter; all they need is a mailbox to receive it through the mail. This means postage and printing costs fall upon the creator and sender of the newsletter, but older relatives aren't left out if they're unwilling to use a computer to get their copy.
Select an Editor
Who in your family seems to always know what's going on with everyone else - birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, this person knows them all - and is in touch with all branches of the family? Someone like this is a perfect candidate to run the family newsletter. He or she will be in charge of:
- Deciding what content appears in the newsletter
- Soliciting family members for updates and images
- Creating a distribution schedule (Monthly? Quarterly? On major holidays? Annually?)
- Editing and polishing the newsletter
- Distributing the newsletter to the family
Alert the Family
Send out word that you're starting a family newsletter. Here's a sample announcement:
Dear Family: I've decided to start up a family newsletter so we can better stay in touch with each other across the miles. This will be the best place to let us all know about your latest news and amazing accomplishments! I can use some help with a few things: first, please let me know how you want to receive the newsletter (in the mail or via email), second, send me a list of ideas for stuff you want featured in the newsletter (think of accomplishments, celebrations, or family history stories). Lastly, please help me spread the word far and wide to our family members about this so I can ensure everyone is included. I'm excited about this new project that will help us all stay connected!
Format the Newsletter
You can either create a newsletter template that you follow from one issue to another, or you can download a template that's already created to make your job easier. Know that readers respond to consistency, so plan to use the same format every time unless it becomes apparent that you need to adjust it. Your newsletter should feature, at least:
- A title
- A spot to list the issue number and date
- Room for stories accompanied by one or several photos
- Contact information for the editor
Your newsletter may span one page or several; it depends largely on how big your family is and how verbose the person in charge is.
Set Up an Editorial Calendar
Newsletters are much easier to manage when you already know what you're doing beforehand. Once you know the distribution schedule for the newsletter, you can start planning ahead for stories. For example, if you know a baby is on the way, set room aside for a story and photo about the new arrival. If a family reunion is in the works, set aside room within the newsletter to start teasing the reunion long beforehand to get everyone excited.
Start Writing or Encouraging Writing
Whether it's a regular column from the family matriarch or photos of coloring pages from the youngest members of the family, you're going to need help from family members to make the newsletter successful. Ask family members to contribute writing or photos to the newsletter on a regular basis, although you will likely find that as the family comes to anticipate the newsletter, they'll start sending you content unsolicited.
Ideas for Content
If you're struggling to think of content to include within the newsletter, consider these ideas to get you started:
- Family recipes
- Graduations, birthdays, job promotions, and other celebrations
- Funny stories from the past
- Interviews with family members
- Genealogy research
Family Is Fascinating
Your family doesn't have to be packed full of adventurers to be interesting, particularly to the members within the family. Don't stress out about presenting an exciting, polished newsletter each and every time; your family just wants to stay in touch, and a newsletter offers them that opportunity.