Your hospital newsletter is more than a fund raising tool. It’s a way to generate volunteers and new and returning patients; to attract referring physicians and case managers; and gain neighborhood support for your goals. The following tips can help you enrich your printed-and on-line-newsletter and speak to readers in a way that helps build your community.
BE RELIABLE: A regular newsletter is one way of providing connections, while it also builds your community. So send your newsletter on a regular basis and tell readers how often they can expect to hear from you. As a place of healing, you want to be reassuring. Doing what you promise, even with a newsletter, demonstrates your reliability.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR READERSHIP. What percent are former patients you want to cultivate as loyal followers? How many are retired, or working full time, or parents of young families? You might consider an on-line survey, using Constant Contact, or Survey Monkey, to get a better sense of all the people who know and support you-or might do so.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR FOCUS. Once you know your readership, you can choose your focus. Do you want to send a quarterly stay-in-touch with some general news for everyone, that they will read and recycle? Will you send a useful reference tool, such as a twice-yearly health bulletin focused on women? You may well be sending more than one newsletter, depending on your resources. (E-mail is an excellent way to make this affordable.)
IMAGINE YOUR AUDIENCE. It can help to imagine two or three specific readers, like characters in a book-for example: a pregnant mother with a toddler, or a recently widowed grandfather. Imagine what they look like, where they live, and where they read your newsletter. You’ll be surprised how, by holding these specifics in your mind, you can enliven your writing.
TELL YOUR READERS ABOUT EACH OTHER. Let the senior citizens know about the high school students who volunteer in the flower shop. Tell the patients about the board members who contribute their time. Remember that your readers form a community with a shared interest in your hospitality news and a community is strengthened when its members know each other.
INVITE READERS TO CONNECT WITH YOU, with a special offer, or invitation to complete a short survey, or a contest with an appropriate prize. Even with a hard copy newsletter, offer links to your website, email addresses, and plenty of phone numbers.
KEEP THE ATMOSPHERE LIGHT. Include a brief profile with photo of someone who does interesting work, e.g. a dietician who loves to decorate cakes, a nurse who volunteers in Honduras. A good hospital newsletter should be as much about the joy of being helped and healed as the technical advances you have made. You can do this with appropriate graphics and layout as well.