Bushwalking 2.0 Pt 3 | Goodbye Newsletter

Has the Club newsletter had its day? Do you struggle to find an editor for your club publications? Is there a better model for publishing today with the advent of web 2.0 tools? Should those who are prepared to receive a digital newsletter receive a membership discount?

The typical Club newsletter is published monthly or quarterly and contains articles contributed by a small number of writers and edited by the Editor or perhaps a small editorial panel. Usually the Editor has struggled to get sufficient articles by the deadline and has probably had to personally seek new contributors and “hound” those who have promised regular contributions. Quality articles rarely arrive on the editor’s desk without some begging or “arm twisting” having occurred.

The production and distribution of the Club newsletter can be both labour intensive and expensive, especially if it has to be posted to a few hundred members. More progressive Clubs will have already diversified and will be encouraging members to opt to receive their newsletter by email as a pdf. Some clubs only have their newsletter for download from the Club website, usually from a members-only section, but if they could see the promotional value of the newsletter, it would be there for anyone to download.

Producing a pdf is the first, but most important stage of going digital. It reveals a commitment to part with tradition at the cost of losing a few die-hards who want to live in the past. If you really want a quick transition from paper to digital, discount the membership fee, by an amount which reflects the cost savings, for those who are prepared to download their copies of the newsletter. The real costs include postage, envelopes, database maintenance, printing, collating, “stuffing”, sorting by postcode and posting.

Of course web 2.0 tools are designed to be interactive and collaborative, perfect for the job of efficiently editing a newsletter. Even better, with the correct selection of the web tool, you can facilitate concurrent editing of contributions by the panel or if you are really adventuresome, open up the process to anyone in the Club to both contribute and edit. They can edit as little as they want or as much, knowing that the “real” Editor can reverse any changes made if needed, reverting to any previous version with a click of a button.

The other benefit is that the process is transparent, so that members can see how the current edition is progressing and contribute if they feel or see a need. The final version has only been published when the Editor digitally locks the pages and exports the finished file as a pdf.

Suitable tools for this  publication model include wikis, online documents with user-contributed content that can be edited by any authorised person, Google docs shared in the Cloud and even some versions of Adobe Acrobat. All of these alternatives avoid the need to sequentially pass a partially edited document from one person to another.

Of course if you are going to fully benefit from web 2.0 tools, why convert your publication into a pdf at all, just leave your wiki online with the finished pages locked and an invitation to everyone to start on the next edition.

More articles in this series

Pt2: Is your Club Ageing?
Pt1 Pt1 Re-energising your Club

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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