Sunday, January 25, 2009

You Know Enough to Write Like A Genius

I know, it's hard to think of newsletter content for your workplace newsletter. But I would like to give you a few tips. #1 Rule in this game---You Know More Than You Think You Know.

I have written over 2000 articles for company newsletters. But how in the world did I do it? It wasn't easy figuring out how, but let me give you a small secret that will take a bit of burden off our mind.

Take any article in any journal lying around near you and open it up. I'll wait...............

Now, when you begin reading that article, do it with two minds. One of your minds is reading the article for its purposes. The other mind is reading the article for "ideas". You should freely associate with this second mind. As you do, ideas for spin-off articles will come to mind. Have pen handy.

Let me do this myself and I will show you what I am talking about. Please wait while I reach for the nearest journal (seriously, I am doing right now....................................). Okay, I am back.

Now, I am going read the first article I can find in this magazine from the Employee Assistance Professionals Assocation. It just came in the mail.

The article is entitle Responding to Workers in Financial Crisis (They probably got the idea for this article from me -- I just wrote 3 fact sheets on this topic three months ago and sent the notice to 1600 EAPs.

Back on track (I am a little ADD)...Okay, I am reading. The article talks about ripple effects in the economy and people losing their jobs. Bingo - article idea. What is the impact of the financial crisis on sleep problems. Wow. That's a biggy. And what do people do, and what should they not do about this problem. What's dangerous. What's not. Are they using Uncle Harry's sleep cure, or do they have a sleep disorder. Are they taking Advil PM that can give you a stroke or heart attack with continous use?!!

There's your freely associated example. You try it. See if you do not come up with wonderful examples that you can pursue on your own.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Avoiding Sleepless Nights as a Content Writer

I absolutely hate to procrastinate, but I still do it. And I kick myself every time. Perhaps when easy-to-use resources exist to help you write a newsletter, it can become a curse. That's because you will wait until the last minute even more to write your newsletter knowing it's going to be easier. (The human mind is an amazing thing isn't it?)

Procrastination is about putting off the pain, and it can be so powerful that your subconscious mind will fight your conscious mind as you attempt to force your arms to move the keys on your typewriter.

So, here's a resource both to help you, while it offers you a curse of even further procrastination. So with awareness, take advantage of this resource. It's called www.firstgov.gov.

That's right, you've heard of it. It's the federal government web portal. Your tax dollars hard at work (some of them anyway) have produced a deep well of information on almost any conceivable subject. And most of this information is in the publican domain.

What's amazing is that information and documentation on this web site comes from a zillion sources, including local, county, and state governments. Do a key word search on any topic and you will discover information to prompt your articles and make life easier in developing content. Some of it can be used wholesale and without fear of copyright infringement.

Enjoy a peaceful night's sleep, but don't procrastinate.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Corporate Newsletters that Save Lives and Increase Productivity

Corporate newsletters are powerful tools and the most effective way to insert behavioral change information into the lives of employees who are moving at a fast pace on the job. Properly constructed with management goals and employee well-being in mind, these productivity tools can help resolve issues with problem employees, reduce risk to business customers, and even improve the ability of a smart insurance producer to build better relationships to sell insurance and improve marketing of risk management products. Corporate newsletters are grossly misunderstood as marketing tools, risk management reduction devices, troubled employee helpers, and productivity boosters.

When I first began writing the work-life-productivity newsletter for the 12,000 employees of the U.S. Congress, my mind was on entertaining employees and helping ensure that I would please the reader. Satisfying the host organization was the mission, but I soon discovered how to do that and much more.

Today, after authoring newsletters for over 50,000 companies, I can assure you that your corporate employee, work-life wellness newsletter is under-powered and under-utilized. Here is how to make your newsletter a instrument of change and directly responsible for doing everything you can imagine from improving customer service to preventing workplace violence.
Step #1: Divide the editorial planning of your employee/work-life newsletter, corporate newsletter, or planned newsletter articles into 12 topic areas.

These will include:

Improving Coworker Relationships
On-the-job Worker Productivity Tips
Balancing Work, Family, Home, and Community
Improving Personal Fitness and Effectiveness
Alcohol and Drug Education, Recovery, & Intervention
Team Building
How to Get Help Now (put information at end of articles)
Hot Work-Life Topics in the News (Seasonal depression, back-to-school, etc.)
Stress Management Tips
Improving the Relationship with Your Supervisor
Workplace Safety, Injury Prevention, and Recovery
Customer Service Improvement and Relationship Enhancement

These topics are the ones that I have discovered meet the most essential needs of employees and business managers in any company large or small.

Next - NEVER have a company newsletter of four pages. Employee will ditch it after 2 pages. So make them two pages. And make them monthly. This is an easy process with a customizable newsletter service - Google "Customizable Editable Employee Newsletters" to find resources.

Next - Distribute by PDF. Employees without computers can get hard copies. And make hard copies available in strategic locations.

Next - Never make articles long and comprehensive when they are associated with mental health issues. Instead make them motivating and captivating. For example, if an article addresses anger management--DO NOT make articles so comprehensive that employees "self-diagnose" and begin treating serious problems themselves. This can increase your risk because they will take half measures and avoid introspection and persistence. It takes a professional to keep this process going most of the time when serious problems exist.

Instead, provide enough information to motivate the reader to take the next step and get help from the company EAP or other resource (preferable a live health/counseling/mental health professional) who can work with the employee. Use this person's face in your newsletter during the year. It will improve the likelihood of this person being utilized as a helping resource. Do you see how doing this can reduce organizational risk? A person struggling with anger issues, who might be the next person to go "postal" in your company could be helped by a newsletter that "sells" help in this manner.

You can apply the above model of information, enticement, and referral to the next step to almost any corporate or employee behavioral problem.

To obtain 24 free newsletter articles that you can use in your own corporate newsletter right now, visit this link to request the download from WorkExcel.com in MS Word. There is no obligation or restriction on the use of these articles.Daniel Feerst, MSW, LISW is author and publisher of the employee newsletters for the U.S. Congress and publisher of the workplace newsletter FrontLine Employee and WorkLife Excel, available by subscription and used by thousands of companies nationwide. Click here to obtain them and learn more other corporate newsletters. You can reach Dan Feerst at mailto:publisher@workexcel.com. His phone number is 1-800-626-4327.

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