- slide 1 of 6Using an informal newsletter, with an engaging banner, to keep your project stakeholders notified about important milestones and checkpoints involves choosing a publishing tool, selecting a template, defining objectives and designing and developing content for each issue. Social media technology tools provide opportunities for project managers to create blog entries, record podcast or send email message to deliver newsletter content that keeps stakeholders informed and engaged. An informal newsletter, such as a weekly email message, a quarterly blog entry or an annual holiday letter, provides information about project progress. By including details about project decisions, the project manager keeps everyone informed so there are no surprises at the end of the project. An informal newsletter brings the team together by showcasing success stories and describing how different team members contribute to achieving the stake holder’s vision. Using the latest desktop publishing technology, it’s easy to quickly create multimedia messages that communicate the team’s accomplishments. By celebrating success, providing updates and announcing new features, an informal serves as an effective communication mechanism for project managers to use when sharing information with stakeholders.
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An informal newsletter typically contains a summary of key messages, such as milestones reached and product or service quality benchmarks. An effective newsletter inspires team members and instills stakeholder confidence in the development. Short articles describe the thoughts and ideas generated by the team during the course of planning and executing the project tasks. Team members have a chance to show a stakeholders how their innovation and creativity fulfill requirements. Establishing a consistent design that conveys these messages for each issue makes it easier to read.
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Effective project managers spend a few minutes of each project status review meeting summarizing the tasks completed, obstacles overcome and milestones met. You can report that in an informal newsletter by creating headlines that poses compelling questions that stakeholders typically need to ask. This creates an interesting table of contents for the newsletter. For example, include headings such as “Did You Know?" and “When Does Testing Begin?" Additionally, you can list awards won, cost savings and other interesting topics.
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Providing motivational quotes, from historical leaders or company executives, adds an entertainment element to an informal internal e-newsletters. Adding personal details, such as recognizing birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and births makes your newsletter more casual and readable. Use the newsletter to commend team members on achievements such as obtaining industry credentials, belonging to recognized organizations and being featured in the media. Add details about upcoming travel, conferences and training events to ensure the stakeholders have the notification they need regarding impending expenses, if applicable.
Include questions from stakeholders and provide answers from team members to make the informal newsletter more interactive. Notes of appreciation always make team members feel more valued as well. Include pictures of recognized team members.
Publish statistics, such as operational metrics, impacted by project work. For example, for a web development project, publish site usage, customer feedback and other usage data to show that stakeholder requirements are met by the current project. Interpret any trends so the entire project team, as well as sponsors and stakeholders, can make decisions based on spikes or dips in usage.
Ask trivia questions or run contests to encourage stakeholders to read an informal newsletter. Using this technique to communicate project information makes readers look forward to each issue. For example, include a crossword puzzle using the names of team members involved in recent success, such as major process improvement.
Debate the pros and cons of solutions to problems facing the project. Including a polling question in email or on the website where you publish your informal newsletter. Report the results in the next newsletter. People feel empowered when they contribute to project decisions with their skills, knowledge and experience.
Include training information, such as tips on how to use new features of the project's deliverables. Stakeholders can use this information to perform quality control or assurance testing. By including it first in an informal newsletter, you create a prototype that can also be used as a reference later on.
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Visual Appeal and Readability
Setting up a simple template, specifying the font, colors and editorial standards ensures that contributors provide article content in a consistent manner that’s easy for stakeholders to read and digest. Minimize the use of passive voice and provides tables, graphs and charts to illustrate data and project reports. Use a list format to describe new capabilities, processes, policies and procedures and other information that helps the stakeholders learn about the project progress in a concrete way. Include hyperlinks to intranet and Internet websites, if applicable. Include a summary paragraph with contact information specified so the stakeholders can get more details if required.
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Reference and Image Credit
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commmons - Cary Bass
"Tips and techniques for planning, designing, writing and creating effective newsletters." Roger C. Parker's New Entrepeneur, covering desktop publishing and web related articles, books, worksheets plus speaking engagement information and design mentoring.. http://www.newentrepreneur.com/Resources/Articles/12_Step_Newsletter/12_step_newsletter.html (accessed July 14, 2011).