Know anybody who’s ever attempted a newsletter yet never had any news? What about blogs; ever seen a stale blog on a company’s site? And I don’t even have to ask about news pages on web sites, as I’m sure you happen upon the occasional page-as-time-capsule in your surfing. These businesses had the best intentions of keeping content fresh; instead they posted a perpetual press release circa 2005 or hiccuped out 3 issues of what could’ve been a lovely newsletter.
Some day in my vast amounts of spare time (insert rimshot and laugh track), I’d love to try to tally the number of newsletters I’ve helped name and launch…which will closely parallel the number I’ve seen fizzle. Ditto that for website news pages. I could start a communications museum with all the well-intentioned projects I’ve seen preserved in amber—locked, motionless, ancient history.
Seems many companies love the idea of communicating but lack the stamina to follow through. Sound familiar?
I eventually became the voice of reason anytime a client decrees it was “time to launch a newsletter” or “add a news page to the website.” The term “monthly” or (God forbid) “weekly” often comes with the decree. Now similar decrees are coming for blogs and other social media tools. Since I know I’ll typically be responsible for producing said newsletter, web page or blog, I talk the client through the ins and outs of what it takes to sustain these efforts.
Even if the client laments that everybody else has a newsletter, news page or blog and they didn’t want to get “left behind,” I remind them that they still needed to look ahead.
While I stand to make money anytime a client wants to produce ‘stuff,’ I prefer to guide clients to substantive, long term success. That’s how we all win. You don’t get long term success by being reactionary or by placating the desire for a momentary sense of accomplishment. You don’t sprint a marathon on the heels of competitors, lest you tire out and trip up. Not to mention, it’s really boring to have nothing to write about.
I rarely advise clients to not get in the game. I always advise that they get in the game at a manageable pace.
Maybe the monthly newsletter should start quarterly or be a twice-annual mini-magazine. Perhaps we hold off on the site news section and just create a temporary spot on the home page when there’s a release to post. Let’s begin a blog slowly without fanfare or promotion, to allow time to establish a rhythm and system for success.
Companies worried about being left behind are typically too busy looking at the backsides of the competition. It’s more effective to find a good pace and fix the gaze up—and ahead. The leader has the best view.