Sunday, October 21, 2012

Social Media Basics - Crafting an eNewsletter

What separates YOUR enewletter from the ones already out there?
What distinguishes your eNewsletter from the ones already out on the web? I bet I can google more inspiring content in 2 minutes than most school district staff can write in an afternoon of frantic authoring (ok, ouch, that one hits too close to home in my life as a writer who is an educator).

Believe it or not, I spent a part of my work day asking myself, How can I make the eNewsletter I'm planning to send out more...Web 2.0? Before you contemplate psychic violence against me for still using the term--after all, don't we want to all be 21st Century learners and communicators? (haha)--take a look at this issue from their perspective.

Who is their? Simple, the same people who Dr. Scott McLeod (Dangerously Irrelevant) critiques in one of his more recent blog posts, the same people to whom I want to say, alluding to those immortal words from Good to Great, "The bus is moving! You better get with it, or plan on being left behind as we move into the future!"
What hope do these teachers have of providing meaningful, technology-rich learning experiences for their students? What hope do these leaders have of creating and adequately supporting powerful, technology-rich learning environments for students and staff? Little to none. 
Source: Struggling with Educators' Lack of Technology Fluency
It's a topic that's arisen over at Tim's Assorted Stuff, Communicating like It's 1999, and at the Blue Skunk Blog (Doug Johnson), Push and Pull Technologies:
My response was basically: cut the guy some slack.
Tim wants the new sup to be using more interactive tools - a blog, Twitter, a Facebook fan page, a podcast, or an infographic. (I'm just guessing here.) To be a model communicator with the latest and greatest tools.
Yet these "21st Century" tools have their limitations.
Social Media Basics
As much as I appreciate these perspectives of disdain and merciful acceptance, I have a simple idea and I'd bet others have done fact, I have done it before, I just haven't done it in my new work space. It goes like this:

1) Post all your newsletter articles, multimedia updates (100-150 words, podcasts or vidcasts), long or short, in a blog. Tag each blog entry--which is an eNewsletter--with month and year (October2012) so you can find it later easily. If you post these blog entries into the past, they won't appear in your RSS feed or be obvious to casual visitors to the blog. With the right blog running mobile templates, everyone will be able to read this content on whatever device.

If you're really feeling up to it, why not create an enhanced podcast (images+narration) that allows for audio/text/video commenting a la Add a GoogleForm or GoogleDoc that facilitates feedback, then offer to reshare that content (directly sharing may result in inappropriateness).

2) Create a page (or blog entry depending on your preference) with links to specific blog entries that constitute the eNewsletter. Each blog title should have 1 sentence summary.

3) Subscribe a GoogleGroup with your intended audience as recipients and send them the link to the page from step 2, with the linked blog titles and 1 sentence summaries.

4) Autopost your RSS feed from your blog via,,, and/or Or, post it manually if you want more control. Invite people to follow you.

That's what I'm planning to do with my Tech Dept newsletter to school district staff next week. I like this approach because it combines direct delivery to non-techie staff (e.g. email delivery) but models a different approach to access eNews content (e.g. multimedia, blog articles). And, if you have a hit counter on your blog, or you're running stats, then you're bound to see a lot of traffic.

Of course, in Tim's story, a superintendent sending out a newsletter via email or as a PDF attachment sends the message that 1) They want content to look good; 2) Content may need to be kept private among staff, not intended for posting and general consumption. If it's the latter, then there's no reason with what the Superintendent is saying shouldn't be shared with the world. Everything we say these days is public, no matter where, to whom we say it.

Seth Godin points out the following:
When you think back to the last ten years of your career or your company's history, how much of what you haven't achieved is due to missed opportunities (the product you didn't launch, the service you didn't choose to do, the effort you didn't extend, the stock you didn't buy) and how much is the result of doing your assigned tasks poorly?
Missed opportunities. Isn't it time school leaders stopped missing opportunities to communicate--digital storytelling--and engage with their communities for fear of failure?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

1 comment:

Ashaunte Gaillard said...

Hello again! This is Ashaunte. I would like to say that I have really enjoyed your blog about crafting a eNewsletter. I am an aspiring educator and this instructional setup that you presented could really help me with my students in my future class room. It really helped me that you broke down everything step by step because I had no idea how to write an eNewsletter before reading this post. Thank you so much for this blog!

Genuine Leadership #4: Gratitude