On most college campuses, it’s fairly easy to start your own club or organization, or join one that’s already been established. Colleges like to encourage diversity and collaboration between students, so any excuse you have to get an organization together will likely be considered valid.
But if you want your organization to be successful, and get more out of the experience, it’s a good idea to start a recurring newsletter. The good news is, it’s easier to start one than you imagine.
The Benefits of Starting a Newsletter
Let’s start by taking a look at the benefits of starting a newsletter for your club:
- Organization awareness. Distributing your newsletter throughout campus can raise awareness that your organization exists, and potentially encourage more people to join.
- Writing skill improvement. College newsletters are a great place to hone your writing skills. Regardless of whether you’re pursuing a career in journalism or are just hoping to get through the essay questions on your final exams, writing skills are always beneficial to have.
- Member participation. Producing a newsletter together is a great way to build bonds within your organization, and give your members more reasons to actively participate. It should improve member retention and boost morale simultaneously.
- Resume and experience. Don’t forget; you can also list your leadership and writing work on this newsletter on your future resume, which can help you get a job out of college!
Once you’ve decided to print a newsletter for your organization, the first step is making sure you have all the right approvals to do it. These prerequisites are going to vary depending on which campus you’re on, and what organization you’re printing the newsletter for. If there’s a head of organizations or extracurricular activities, that’s a good place to start. If there’s a faculty advisor for your group, you can ask them as well. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact the president of your group and get their permission before you start running the newsletter.
Planning the Purpose
Next, you’ll need to plan the purpose of this newsletter, which will inform how you structure it, write it, and distribute it in the future. You may have multiple purposes in mind, but it’s still helpful to narrow them down. For example, will this be geared entirely toward people outside your organization, entirely for people within it, or some mix of the two? Will you strive to keep a consistent tone and level of quality throughout, or make it a hodge-podge of student submissions? These are important questions to answer before you get started.
Setting Your Budget
You should also set a budget before you get too far in the process. Booklet printing can be very inexpensive, but you’ll still need formal approval from your school’s recreation department before you can move forward. Alternatively, you can collect money from your current members to finance the first run of the newsletter, and come up with a plan for how to consistently raise the funds for future issues.
Though you may have the time and enthusiasm to create the entire newsletter yourself, it’s better if you work with a team to pull together the content for it. Talk to the current members of your group to see if there’s anyone who’s had experience writing for a newsletter before, and gauge their interest in contributing regularly to the publication. You may also consider scouting talent in multiple different areas, such as someone to conduct interviews, someone to write creatively, and someone to edit and provide the layout for your issues.
Creating Your Editorial Calendar
Once you have the right people in mind, you can turn your attention to creating a consistent editorial calendar. How often are you going to publish this newsletter? Are you going to keep the formatting the same for each new issue? Will you have a different “theme” each month, or will that be dependent on the news cycle? Though you may have to leave slots for news-worthy items that are unpredictable, you should plan as far ahead as you can; that way, you’re less likely to ever run out of material.
Who’s going to be in charge of what? You can claim this authority for yourself, or delegate it to other people in your organization. For example, is someone going to be in charge of finalizing the editing of the layout? Is there someone in charge of each of the columns in the newsletter? Is someone in charge of ordering and distribution?
Once your newsletter has been established, your next move is up to you. If you want more hands-on writing experience, you can helm the newsletter for the foreseeable future. If you prefer to take a backseat, you can find more people willing to generate the core content. And if you’re only interested in building more interest for your club, you can turn your attention to other strategies, such as on-campus outreach. In any case, your efforts will be rewarded, whether it’s in the form of new members, or more fleshed-out skills you can apply in your future career.