Employees are busy.
They have jobs to do, customers to please, schedules to meet. On top of all that, it’s easy for them to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages they receive from their company. (Hello, overflowing email inboxes.)
“It’s just hard to get people’s attention today,” said Laura Lee, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at Nestle Purina. “We’re all pressed for time. You can go crazy trying to keep up with all of the information coming at you. That’s why we see value in curating content with newsletters.”
The Purina communications team has developed a knack of creating must-read newsletters that help them capture more of the short attention span of on-the-go employees.
“We’re always thinking about giving people a reason to open our newsletters,” added Margarett Wolf, Senior Communications Specialist at Nestle Purina. “We’ve become pretty good at crafting them so that we target everyone with the information they need and want. That way, we’re able to fill any communication gaps.”
Newsletters aren’t, well, new.
But Purina succeeds because of the considerable thought and effort that goes into putting an innovative digital spin on an old idea. They design newsletters that get noticed by people who may already feel like they’re drowning in information.
The Purina team curates information that includes content published on its employee communication platform, which is called The Pack (and powered by Dynamic Signal). Those stories are artfully packaged in a fun, appealing way using the newsletter functionality of Dynamic Signal. Then they are delivered directly to employees from The Pack via email and also through a push notification on the mobile app using the scheduling tool.
“Employees aren’t going to your platform every day,” Lee said. “They need a nudge. Newsletters do that. They get to see a little hint of the information that they can skim, and then decide whether or not they want to click through to the article. When we’re deciding what goes in our newsletters, we’re always thinking, ‘Why would they care and why would they share?’”
Pets come in all shapes and sizes. The information needs for people are varied as well. Purina excels at segmenting newsletters for specific audiences so that everyone is always getting content relevant to them. Each week, the team creates two different newsletters for employees – one for those at the company headquarters in St. Louis and the other for the hard-to-reach factory and remote workers.
“It’s natural that they don’t always know what’s going on at headquarters,” Wolf explained. “The newsletter helps to make them feel like they play an important role in the company’s success. It makes them see how their individual work is contributing to the company’s efforts.”
The result is each employee feels that the content speaks to them.
When it comes to the look and feel of the newsletters themselves, there are so many smart components that build trust, said Daniel J. Yount, Senior Customer Success Manager at Dynamic Signal. There often is a creative theme. They find entertaining emojis and memes. Content is always fresh.
Most of all, the Purina team understands how to connect with readers.
“There might be a call-to-action about how everyone needs to fill out a form for HR,” Yount said. “But there will also be a funny meme that’s a nod to the audience that says, ‘Yes, we’re with you on how this isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but we need to ask you to do it anyway.’ Purina is so great with the playful humor and empathizing with their coworkers.”
The result is employees look forward to the newsletters.
“Our goal is to make sure that the newsletters are valued and the worth the time our readers take to open and read them,” Lee said.
10 Newsletters Best Practices from Purina
- Short and sweet. Attention spans are short. Cut to the chase quickly. They have learned to keep the intro copy tight – just a few, catchy sentences before getting into the different taglines for each story.
- News you can use. The Purina team thinks long and hard about what to include. “We definitely want to put on our best face to point out things people should know or might have missed,” Wolf said. The best way to increase and maintain readership is to keep giving employees a reason to come back for more.
- Consistency matters. Stick to a regular publishing schedule, so employees know when they’re going to receive a newsletter. Also, maintain a standard length for your newsletters.
- Eye-catching headlines. These not only entice readers to open the newsletter but to click through to the individual articles.
- Strong images. Photos and graphics can be particularly helpful in spicing up a newsletter design as well as reinforcing a theme.
- Segment for different audiences. One size doesn’t fit all. Employees will skip your newsletters if they don’t speak to them as individuals.
- Be creative. Opening a newsletter shouldn’t feel like yet another task. “We’re fortunate to work with animals, so we use pets in memes,” Wolf said. “Those always seem to be a hit for us.”
- Strike a casual tone. Reduce the business-speak and be more conversational. The Purina team said that sometimes it takes a little practice to write that way.
- Use humor, but wisely. Wolf cautions that sometimes a funny idea doesn’t translate into print. “A creative meme might get your message across better,” she added.
- Don’t be afraid to use “evergreen” content that performed well in the past, but only if it’s still timely. “For Purina, maybe it’s about taking care of your pets during different seasons or content about what foods are safe and not safe to eat for pets,” Lee said. “We always have content ready that can be used at any time.”
And a bonus tip . . .
- Employee stories. Let employees brag about your company. Some of Purina’s best performing content is about the goodwill efforts of the company, Lee said. Employees are especially proud to learn about – and share – the good things the company does in their communities.