Since rolling out its Free PTA Sponsorship program, Benchmark Email has received a lot of great feedback from both teachers and parents, and that’s given us food for thought. The hardest part of being a teacher, I am told, is not in the actual teaching of the kids, but in making sure that they are all on the “same page” – both literally and figuratively. Once that is accomplished – it’s easy as pie.
Some of you PTA members out there may feel the same way about your fellow PTA’ers. Meetings can be a bit hectic if everyone isn’t on the “same page” and, let’s be honest, with how busy people are these days it’s no wonder that PTA meetings can be a little disorganized.
That is to say – PTA meetings that aren’t supplemented with an informative, beautifully laid out email newsletter can be disorganized. Here are some tips that will help you perfect the art of designing your local PTA’s email newsletter.
The Table of Contents
Let’s start at the beginning. I realize that this may seem obvious but the first step in laying out an effective newsletter is a table of contents. You want the parents and teachers who’ll be subscribing to your PTA newsletter to find the information that they are looking for quickly and painlessly. These days everyone is on the move and your readers will appreciate being able to skip past the info they don’t want.
Separate your newsletter into sections using sidebars and columns to keep information from bleeding together. Keep the main articles in the center of your newsletter and place sections like “news” and “events” in easy to see sidebars. Keeping different sections separated will help you organize your newsletter, help your subscribers read it and, with a little creativity on your part when it comes to placement and color, can really make your email look great.
Not every local PTA is created equal, and it can be difficult for new members to find their footing, especially when it comes to things that veteran members already know like meeting times and places and how to bring subjects to the attention of the group. Add an FAQ section (frequently asked questions) to your newsletter to help make any newcomers feel welcome while showing them the ropes.
Instead of including full articles in your email, consider only using the first paragraph of an article, or even a summary. This works especially well for longer articles since they take up a lot of space. After the snippet or summary of the article add a “read more” link that points to a full version of the article on your web site. This preview method is great for articles that may benefit from photos or graphs – anything that may be a bit too much to include in your email.
Last but not least, remember to give your email some personality. You aren’t a court stenographer, you’re a member of the PTA who is reaching out to other members. You are part of a community and the more comfortable people are the more effective your group can be.
Be Open to Feedback
It takes a few tries for a newsletter to come into its own. In the beginning there are always some things you forget to include and some that didn’t necessarily need to be there. Leave a feedback link at the end of your email so your subscribers can get back to you with any questions or comments.
A local PTA is exactly the kind of organization that email newsletters were created for. There is no easier way to get in touch with a large, diverse group of people that is so effective and so inexpensive. Good luck with your newsletter and don’t forget to be creative!