Effectively communicating with people who use the facilities & buildings we manage is critical, yet it is often at the bottom of a long list of priorities Facility Managers deal with on a daily basis.
A newsletter is an often-overlooked tool for communicating, and can support other customer service strategies you currently use.
A well-written newsletter informs the reader and delivers your message but it also gives you a way to influence others, promote your facilities management department and promote your initiatives.
It can be as simple as telling the occupant what you are doing for them – things they may take for granted – or reminding them about facility initiatives such as new security arrangements, projects and new procedures. This can prevent calls and complaints by informing your facility occupants about changes, issues and events before they happen, not to mention building good will.
Content for your Newsletter
To develop content, the first step is to determine your goals and actively seek articles that carry your message forward. Since the audience is the facility occupant, your prime contacts and the client, a careful balance is important.
The content can be as simple as telling the reader about construction activity and events. It can also remind them what you have done for them and educate them about issues, such as how the building HVAC operates, your initiatives to ensure good indoor air quality, services you provide, furniture standards, seasonal issues, maintenance activities and more.
Producing a Newsletter
Newsletters are easily produced with MS Word or MS Publisher. You can find free templates or pay for a professionally designed one. Your readers are unlikely to read more than a page or two, so stick with a single sheet of 8 ½” x 11” paper if you distribute the paper versions. Even if you distribute it electronically, be sure to keep it short. It's better to send short newsletters frequently than long newsletters infrequently. If electronic, convert it to a PDF before distributing.
Keep your layout simple and professional, with enough ‘white space’ to make it easy to read. A traditional two or three column format provides flexibility and is also easy to read. Stick with standard fonts and use them consistently.
The frequency of your newsletter is important. Don’t plan a monthly newsletter if you can’t fill it with useful content. To start out, avoid scheduling the release of your newsletters, and simply publish them when there is something to say, or for specific communication purposes.
Distributing your Newsletter
How you distribute your newsletter will depend on technology, the occupants and your company or client. Paper based distribution is easy, however it is sometimes seen as being less than environmentally friendly. If you go this route, the cleaning staff can usually distribute the newsletter during their rounds. Electronic distribution with the newsletter sent as an attachment is an option, however you need to be able to do a mass distribution. You may need to talk to IT or HR for this option.
If you are a service provider or FM outsourcing provider, consult with your client before issuing newsletters.
Writing a Newsletter
(related free resource - "Write To Influence" ebook)
The most important part of a newsletter is content. Without good content, the occupants won't bother to read it. Use this checklist as a guide to improve your content.
- Will your headline catch the readers’ attention? (I.e. use ‘Improving Your Comfort’ instead of ‘HVAC Project’ for an article on an upcoming project that will improve control over temperature in their space.)
- Is the first sentence or paragraph of the article likely to entice the reader to continue reading?
- Does the article deliver your message?
- Is the article concise and to the point?
- Is your message repeated within the article or even throughout the newsletter?
- Are you speaking to the reader directly and making the article personal instead of using general language? (I.e. use ‘You will be more comfortable’ instead of ‘The building will be more comfortable’)
- Do the photographs and graphics add to the article instead of just being filler?
- Does the article use active sentences instead of passive ones?(I.e. use ‘We are replacing..” instead of ‘We will be replacing...”)
- Are you avoiding technical terms and acronyms that the reader won’t understand?
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