Gwen Fariss Newman on Using Newsletters to Connect with Others

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

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