E-newsletter roles are:
Project Manager: In charge of the schedule and keeping all the participants
on task; ensures that each participant remains clear about his/her
Writer: Writes e-newsletter content and, in some cases, content for its sister
Contributing Writers: E-newsletter content often will be submitted by
outside contributors who have more direct knowledge of the subject matter.
This helps ensure that the content is accurate and saves you time and
resources. For example, if you’ve planned to include content about an
engineering research project, ask a communications person or project
participant from that department to submit a blurb about it. Just be sure you
give that contributor clear guidelines about tone and word length.
Editor: Makes sure the tone is consistent and the content is as tight and
compelling as possible. This person is also in charge of quality assurance,
which means ensuring that the experience for readers is consistently positive
from the time they first open the e-newsletter to the time they land on a Web
page after clicking a link in your e-newsletter. (For more on this topic, see
―End-to-End Experience‖ in the content best practices document
Proofreader: Reads the final version of the e-newsletter for typos and other
content errors. This proofing pass should include a review of the subject line,
the body content, and the alt text
for all images.
Designer: Develops an initial mockup of the e-newsletter, including the
masthead, color scheme, and fonts, based on your content plan. Once the
mockup is approved, the designer creates a template that will serve as the
framework for each edition of the e-newsletter. The designer also helps find
and adjust photos and graphics included in each issue. The University has
preformatted, fully tested templates that can be customized and used by any
UW unit. For more information, contact Elise Daniel at
Producer: Creates, modifies, and troubleshoots the HTML code and publishes
all images in the e-newsletter to the Web.
Content Reviewers: These are people with subject matter expertise, either
about specific pieces of content or the audience you’re targeting or both, who
can help make sure your content is accurate and properly represents the
department, school, etc., it discusses. They also should be your point persons
for routing drafts of the e-newsletter to others in their departments who may
need to review it and for vetting and compiling their feedback for you. It is
important to keep this group as small as possible. E-newsletter content needs
to be short and focused to be effective; so the more constituencies you
include, the harder it will be to do that.
Content Approver: This person makes the final decision about whether the
e-newsletter is ready to send to subscribers.
Sister Web site liaison: Most e-newsletters are closely associated with a
particular Web site. Every edition of your e-newsletter will result in changes
to that sister site. So, you need to assign someone the role of making the site
updates and ensuring they get published before the e-newsletter goes out to
Subscription List Manager: Collects, vets, and updates the list of names
and e-mail addresses on your list of subscribers. This person is responsible for
ensuring that the information on the list is kept secure, so that subscribers’
personally identifiable information remains private. Also this person works
with the Database Technical Support person to help ensure the database that
contains the information is properly backed up and configured to upload
information into the e-mail distribution program you use to send out the e-
Subscriber Relationship Manager: Collects subscriber feedback and shares
it with the e-newsletter team and directly answers subscriber questions or
Database Technical Support: Supports the Subscription List Manager by
ensuring that the database that contains the information is properly backed
up and configured to upload information into the e-mail distribution program
you use to send out the e-newsletter.
Testers: This group tests all the links in the e-newsletter and views it in
multiple e-mail programs and Web browsers as well as handheld devices. The
group should include any or all of the role-players on the e-newsletter team,
plus other technically astute colleagues who are willing to pitch in, especially
when you first launch a new e-newsletter.
Publisher: Uses the e-mail distribution software to send test copies of the e-
newsletter to the test team (otherwise known as the seed list) and to send
the final version out to all subscribers.
Metrics Analyst: Gathers performance data about a week after the e-
newsletter goes out to subscribers, analyses it to determine how well or
poorly the e-newsletter performed, and recommends changes to help
overcome any poor-performance indicators.
Step 3: Develop a Schedule
The list of role-players (above) and their tasks should serve as the basis for the
schedule you create. Determine your delivery date, list all of the tasks and then work
back from your delivery date to determine deadlines for each task. Keep in mind, the
schedule for launching an e-newsletter is necessarily different and longer than your
ongoing schedule should be. If you need a head-start, download this sample
Step 4: Get Training
Determine which of your team members will need to be familiar with the technical
aspects of producing the e-newsletter. Then set up a training session with whomever
is providing your technical support so everyone can familiarize themselves with the
e-mail distribution software and the subscriber database, as well as what technical
issues might need to be resolved before you can successfully send your e-newsletter.
If you plan to use the UW’s shared e-mail marketing and distribution system
), you can receive this training at one of the monthly sessions
hosted by University Advancement.
Step 5: Prepare Your Subscriber List
Some subscriber information (primarily UW faculty and staff, donors, and alumni) is
already in Convio and can be sorted according to degree, year of graduation, ZIP
code, and other information. Some units will have their own lists of subscribers,
which can be loaded into Convio. Also, UW Marketing and UWAA are in the process of
developing a marketing plan to attract more people to provide their e-mail addresses
as well as a centralized location on the Web where people can see what e-
newsletters are available from the University and sign up for the ones they want to
Step 1: Select or Create an E-Newsletter Template
This step needs to take place before you start drafting content because it will
determine what the word-count limits will be for each content section. It also will
give you a basis for determining how many graphics/photos you will need to gather.
The University has preformatted, fully tested templates that can be customized and
used by any UW unit. For more information, contact Elise Daniel at
Step 2: Draft the Content
There are two types of content you will need to draft:
E-Newsletter content, which refers to the headlines, blurbs, alt text, and
link text you will include in your e-newsletter. This content should be drafted
in a word-processing program first, so you can check spelling and track edits.
Make sure that the owners of the Web sites you'll be linking to are aware that
you're doing so. This will prevent broken links from occurring because of a
site update you might not know about.
Sister Web site content, which includes:
Subscription page content, describing the e-newsletter and how to
subscribe to it. (The University is working on a centralized subscription
An online version of your e-newsletter if you plan to archive past
A navigation page that allows people to access past versions of your e-
Links on your home page or other relevant pages on your Web site
that give people access to your subscription page and your e-
Any original content you plan to link to from the e-newsletter that
does not already exist somewhere on the Web, such as an article
you’ve written that is too long to include in the e-newsletter itself.
Step 3: Send for First Review
This is the first opportunity for members of your immediate team and content
contributors to give detailed feedback on the design and actual content of your e-
newsletter. Therefore, it is the time for you to be the most flexible in terms of
seeking and considering critical feedback. The more open-minded you are at this
stage, the better prepared you’ll be during the final review stage. That’s when
requests for changes should be only of the ―stop-the-presses‖ variety. In this step,
you should be sending two files for review:
A Word (or other word-processing program) document with the Track
Changes feature turned on.
A .jpg (or .pdf or other image file) of the e-newsletter design
mocked up. At this stage, it’s not as efficient to send a fully functioning
HTML version because, depending on the nature of the feedback, you may
have to revisit the entire design. Plus, this will help keep your reviewers
looking at the design as a whole and prevent them from interacting with the
e-newsletter—e.g., clicking on links that don’t work or asking about content
or design elements that are just placeholders. You can choose to use fake
text in the mock-up to demonstrate word-length in each section, but an
even better choice would be to include text that actually describes the
purpose of that section—thus killing two birds with one stone.
Step 4: Create Feedback Mechanisms
Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with your readers and gather their input.
There are a variety of options for doing this:
Create a designated e-mail address readers can use to send you feedback
and questions about the e-newsletter. You can obtain one by using an online
to request a Supplemental Account
from UW Technology. The account
should be owned by a permanent UW staff member, but multiple others can
be added as registered users, even if they are temporary staff. If you decide
to create an e-mail address to field reader responses, be sure to determine a
process for vetting and taking action on reader responses. Ideally the e-mail
address should be associated with more than one person on your team. Then
the work can be divided up by task: requests to add a subscriber; technical
errors; content questions; content or design critique; or praise, etc.
Create a Quick Poll, and link to it from your e-newsletter. You can find
instructions for how to set up a poll
on the Catalyst Web site.
Survey your readers periodically. Once a year is usually sufficient. You
can find instructions for how to set up a WebQ survey
on the Catalyst Web
No matter which mechanism you choose, be sure to analyze and use the
information you’re receiving. For example, if it’s praise, share it with the boss
and keep doing what you’re doing; if it’s criticism, address the problem. In other
words, take advantage of this opportunity for direct interaction.
Step 5: Build the E-Newsletter
Depending on the software you’re using and your level of technical knowledge, this
step may require support from a tech-savvy person. Here are the basics of building
If your e-newsletter template was created in a format other than HTML, such
as PageMaker or PhotoShop, it now needs to be built in HTML. Ideally, you
will either be using a preformatted e-newsletter template available within the
Convio software program or you have a designer with the technical skills to
do the building him/herself.
Upload the HTML into Convio or whatever e-mail distribution program you’re
Publish to the Web all graphics that will appear in the e-newsletter.
Copy and paste your text and links into the HTML.
Print a copy of the e-newsletter. Just because it looks good in e-mail doesn’t
mean it will look good on paper—and you’ll want it to. Print versions are
useful for planning and debrief meetings and for the segment of your readers
that will prefer reading a printed version.
Step 6: Send for Second Review
On this round, your content reviewers and approvers should receive a fully functional
test version of the e-newsletter via the same method your readers eventually will.
Again, some technical support will probably be required for this step. To do this
Alert your reviewers that they are about to receive a test copy of the e-
newsletter for review, and ask them to send their feedback directly to you,
rather than replying to the e-newsletter From address.
Create a “seed list” (a list of the e-mail addresses of your reviewers) in
your e-mail distribution program. You can create more than one seed list if
you want. This allows you to do internal review with your immediate team
before sending it out to the broader review team.
Append TEST to the beginning of your Subject line.
Send it out!
Compile and incorporate the feedback.
Get the thumbs-up from your content approver. This may require
sending out another test version.
Step 7: Create a Text-Only Version
It is important to create a non-HTML version of your e-newsletter because some e-
mail programs do note translate HTML very well (such as WebPine), and some
subscribers prefer text-only files. Text-only e-newsletters should include the
following bare essentials:
Full URLs only, not embedded links. For example, this is an embedded link
and this is a full URL: http://www.washington.edu/
Unformatted text and simple characters. That means no italics or
bolding; no curly quotes and bullets. For example, even though style rules
require that book titles be set off by italics, italics won't translate in plain text.
So, you should consider using quote marks or title case to set off the text.
Similarly, you cannot define the font that will be displayed in a text-only
e-newsletter. It is most likely to display in something like Courier.
Important tip: While it's a good idea to compose your e-newsletter in a word-
processing program to ensure that there are no spelling errors, you should place the
final text in a program like Notepad, which gives you the closest approximation of
what your text-only e-newsletter will look like in e-mail. That way you can find and
fix any formatting problems ahead of time.
Before You Mail It
Your text is final, you’ve gotten approval. Now it’s time to make sure everything is
working properly. Here’s what to do before you click the Send button:
If your subscriber list includes 300 or more e-mail addresses that end in
u.washington.edu or if you will be using UW networks to send your e-
newsletter, write an e-mail message to UW Techonolgy at
a couple of days before you plan to send your
e-newsletter, letting them know the date and time it is planned to go out.
Jobs that large can bog down the University’s e-mail servers, which could
slow down e-mail service for the whole campus. So, they request that large e-
mail jobs be sent after 11 p.m. and before 5 a.m. This will help you avoid
your scheduled mailing shut down by UW Technology without warning.
Review the HTML version in the most commonly used e-mail
programs: Outlook, Outlook Express, Hotmail, Yahoo, G-mail, AOL, Mac:
Entourage, Thunderbird (Mozilla Firefox), and a handheld device (such as a
Blackberry). Your IT support team should be able to help you with this task;
they usually have computers and e-mail addresses they use for their own
Send yourself a copy of the text-only version to check for any special
characters, strange line breaks, etc., you might have missed.
Print it out to make sure any layout or code changes you’ve made along the
way haven’t negatively affected how it prints.
Test all links in both the HTML and text-only versions.
Retest if you make changes; if changes are design-related, test again on
multiple e-mail programs.
Review your subscriber list for errors such as extra spaces or missing
Import subscribers’ e-mail addresses from Advance (the UW's donor and
alumni database) and other databases, if necessary, into Convio.
Send It Out
Step 1: Schedule the Job
The day before your e-newsletter is final and ready to go to subscribers, you will
need to schedule the date and time of day in the e-mail distribution program you’re
using to send it.
In addition, UW Technology keeps a calendar of the email messages that are
scheduled to go to a large number of internal (u.washington.edu) e-mail addresses.
That helps them to avoid extreme congestion of their e-mail servers and helps you
get your job out faster.
Step 2: Monitor the Progress
Once you hit the Send button, it’s best not to pack up your things and head home,
especially the first few times you send it. Schedule your job for a time of day when
you or your technical support person can be available in case a glitch occurs that
prevents the job from going out or causes it to stop before it’s finished. In Convio,
you can monitor your job by refreshing the Delivery Status page that appears once
you've sent the message.
Close the Loop
Congratulations! You’ve sent out your first e-newsletter! It’s time for a well-deserved
pat on the back … and a few other things. Your project isn’t actually complete yet.
Just a few more steps to the finish line…
Step 1: Archive It
Once your e-newsletter is safely in your subscribers’ inboxes, it’s time to make it
available on the Web (unless you’ve decided not to make past issues of your e-
newsletter available). There are three parts to this step:
Publish an online version of your e-newsletter. You do this by:
Creating and posting a .pdf version of it.
Building it out as a Web page. Depending on the flexibility of your Web
site templates, this may simply be a matter of copying and pasting the
code for the body of your e-newsletter. In most cases, though, you will
have to do some tweaking to the layout so that it will work in the
context of a Web page.
Create an e-newsletter archive navigation page. Even though it will
seem a little unnecessary at first, since it will only have one issue listed, it will
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