AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

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Greetings All! I’m Gwen Fariss Newman and I’m filling in this Saturday for AEA’s Executive Director while she is on vacation. You may know me as AEA’s Communications Director, a new post as of two years ago. In that time, we’ve revamped AEA’s monthly newsletter and recently introduced a feature that showcases how AEA members are communicating with clients and stakeholders.  Because e-newsletters are one of the easiest and most low-cost ways to get the word out about your evaluation work, I’m devoting today’s post to them.

Rad Resource: Printed newsletters are costly to produce, expensive to mail, hard to track and near impossible to update if sudden changes occur. Electronic newsletters are sent with the touch of a button, going directly to the mailbox of recipients who can instantaneously opt-in or opt-out. This means more targeted mailings, more up-to-date mailing lists and a far more economical mode of production. You can incorporate photos, personalize the contents, make last-minute updates and time delivery. There are ready-made templates or you can create your own. AEA uses ConstantContact. Other popular choices include GraphicMail, iContact and emailbrain.

Hot Tip: Pictures often speak louder than words. Whenever possible, look for images that illustrate the article, identify those quoted, or offer a higher profile to the piece. Quick test: scan the page of a newspaper or magazine. Do you gravitate to the blurbs with images or without? There are almost always ways to visualize the content – and make the piece more appealing, memorable and  likely to be read. You can even run a photo solo with great results.

Hot Tip: Don’t just go green, go evergreen. E-newsletters cut paper costs and production time. But a link to your website can make the content readily visible, easily accessible, and permanently available. Visit AEA’s archive page and see how your e-newsletter can become a ready resource that you can download, forward to others, or refer to at any time.

Lesson Learned: Track reader trends. Most e-newsletters services offer statistics that show who’s reading what. AEA’s newsletter open/read rate is higher than the industry average – thank you! – and readership stats can help you tailor content to your readers’ needs. We run a Top 10 list every February.

Hot Tip: Offer a diversity of articles, views, and perspectives. Remember, communications is a two-way street. You (1) share with readers (2) the news that they want/need to know. This will help you better connect with your audience and ensure a more satisfying experience for both parties. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, if you have a newsletter that you’d like to share with AEA members or other ideas for AEA’s newsletter, email me at gwen@eval.org.

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