Creating a family newsletter is a great way for extended families to stay up-to-date on news and events. Publishing your own version takes little effort. Just follow these steps.
Determine the best format and method of communication for your family newsletter. The best option is to create word processor documents that can be attached for sending via email. Most everyone (even older members) has access to email and it is cost efficient, paperless, and fast. If you have members without email access, it's easy to print out copies of the newsletter to send via snail mail. If email does not work in creating your family newsletter, a traditional print version is feasible.
Ask your family members to participate. Most of your family will be more than willing to submit to a newsletter that would keep everyone updated on familial news and events.
Gather the contact information for everyone involved. If you are dealing with families with small children, there may be one contact for the entire family. On the other hand, if the family has grown children, you will need to get everyone's individual contact info.
Pick a deadline for newsletter entries and notify your family of this date. Make sure you are clear about when their entries are due. Reassure family members that you will send them reminders as the due date gets closer. You may need to personalize this step. Aunt Judy might get her entry in on the very first day, but procrastinator Uncle John may need a little coaxing to pony up his entry on time.
Suggest themes and give guidelines for every edition of your family newsletter. These can be as simple as "What are your summer plans?" or "What is your favorite place in the world?" Themes help streamline entries and give family members structure. They also will help with Uncle Billy's tendency to write 15 pages! There's only so much you can say about your summer plans.
Edit the entries. This is tricky, but necessary. Find the happy medium between being obvious that you have changed a family member's entry and saving them from embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes.
Deliver a presentable, well-edited, punctual, fun, and easy-to-read newsletter. If you promised publication by a certain date, stick to it. You expect family members to submit on time; don't make them wait for family news and events because you have procrastinated!
- Utilize humor at every step of the newsletter process. If you are light-hearted and fun, it will encourage others to participate and make your newsletter more enjoyable to read and create.
- Be sensitive. One family member's idea of fun and games may be the catalyst for another's anger. Be aware of participants' personalities and create a newsletter that is on a level playing field for everyone. Also, remember that all age levels will be reading. Have a 'PG' rated newsletter, rather than an 'R' rating. Better safe than sorry.
- Not everyone in the family will choose to participate. Encourage everyone to submit to the newsletter, but realize that some will be more active than others. Pushing family to do something they can't or don't want to do can lead to resentment and anger.