Tag: Writing

Email Newsletters

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The majority of my job responsibilities involve effectively communicating messages to internal, as opposed to external, audiences. When I’m not busy working on the redesign of the Judicial Branch’s employee intranet site, I’m usually working on one of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ employee newsletters. Check out examples of my newsletter work.


N.C. JUDICIAL CENTER BUILDING BULLETIN

I am the editor of the award-winning N.C. Judicial Center (NCJC) Building Bulletin, which reports on office news for the 400+ employees on our campus. The Building Bulletin has been my responsibility since June 2012, after a part-time resource dedicated to this newsletter left the organization. The newsletter has traditionally been sent monthly, but under my direction we’ve started sending updates at least twice each month. My role as editor is to generate content ideas, write and edit articles, take and edit photos, create graphics, and build the newsletter in HTML/CSS. We are currently in the process of implementing the GovDelivery email newsletter delivery service, but at this point everything is still done manually.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin January 2013 edition

The process

I start with a yearly editorial calendar Excel spreadsheet, where I store content ideas for each month’s edition. We have a handful of recurring features — for instance, our Meet Your Neighbor staff feature and monthly photography contest — and some seasonal topics that we cover annually. NCJC staff can submit articles or ideas, and I’m also constantly thinking of new content based on what’s happening around the office. Our main goal is to share information and get staff involved in the office community.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin October 2012 edition

Once I have an idea of the content, I start building the newsletter as a webpage using an HTML/CSS template. Our former graphic designer created the branded template, and I’ve built on it over the past several months. I write new articles, edit audience-submitted content, design graphics in Adobe Photoshop CS6, take new or edit existing photos, create any surveys — and then drop them into the HTML code. It’s a time-consuming process, but HTML/CSS gives me the freedom to tweak the layout to my exact specifications. One of our internal developers created a program that generates photo gallery webpages from a list of image files, so I will run that program as needed, as well.

Shortly before the publish date, I’ll send the finished newsletter file to my team members for review. Then, I’ll make any last-minute changes before uploading the newsletter files (the main HTML files as well as any images, PDFs, or photo galleries) to our FTP server. At this point, I check the newsletter URL in Internet Explorer, the official browser that all Judicial Branch employees use, for any strange behaviors. If everything looks good, I’ll send the newsletter webpage as an email via Outlook.

Once we get GovDelivery up and running, the production of the newsletter will be a much simpler process. I’ll still be tasked with producing the right articles, images, and graphics, but building and sending the newsletter will be a more automated process.

NCJC EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION COMMITTEE

N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee Newsletter March 2013As a member of the N.C. Judicial Center’s Employee Appreciation Committee (EAC), I help promote upcoming events and fundraisers — primarily through email newsletters and flyers — to the roughly 400 campus employees on an as-needed basis. The EAC newsletter currently follows the same production process as the NCJC Building Bulletin (outlined above), from which it also borrows its design template. I do create custom header banners for each issue, though.

INSIDE THE CHAMBERS

This newsletter, published weekly whenever the N.C. General Assembly is in session, provides relevant legislative updates to all 7,000+ employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch.

Inside the Chambers February 2013When Inside the Chambers launched during the 2012 legislative short session, our former graphic designer based the HTML template on that of the Building Bulletin, but with a customized header banner. The newsletter started out with weekly commentary, budget news, and the latest legislation updates from our Legal and Legislative Services Division — but, in 2013 it evolved into a dedicated vehicle for disseminating legislation updates.

This newsletter follows the same production process as the Building Bulletin, but it differs from the others in that I am not solely responsible for generating content. In this case, I’ve worked with our Legal team to define a standard process and schedule for submitting content so I can hit my publishing deadlines.


As you can see, a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into the creation of these newsletters. These are the three newsletters that I manage, but there are also others that I help edit or oversee each month. In addition to editing and production work, I’ve also worked with communications and technology staff to create guidelines and define procedures for Judicial Branch staff to follow when setting up additional newsletters. Newsletter work only comprises about 10-15% of my job, but it’s a chance to be creative, share interesting stories, and get others involved in company events and culture.

Make sure you check out the rest of my newsletter work.

Newsletters Archive

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ Communications Office is responsible for managing several email newslettersBuilding Bulletin February 2013 for the NCAOC and the N.C. Judicial Branch. Jillian Kuhn Warren oversees and edits many of these newsletters, spending roughly 15% of her workweek on them. Her three primary newsletters are listed below.

Currently, Jillian creates all content (copy, images, etc.), produces the newsletter as a webpage with HTML and CSS, uploads the newsletters to the web via FTP, and sends the newsletters via Outlook. Read more details in her Email Newsletters blog post. She has done extensive research and presented proposals on various email newsletter delivery services, and the NCAOC is in the process of implementing the GovDelivery system.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin

Jillian is the editor and primary contributor to this award-winning monthly newsletter for employees of the N.C. Judicial Center.

NCJC Building Bulletin September 2012

Before Jillian became editor, the Building Bulletin looked like this: May 2012. Multiple staff members, including one dedicated part-time employee, published one edition each month and often spent a late night at work prior to the publish date. Now, with Jillian as the sole editor, Building Bulletin publishes at least two editions per month and is always ready on time.


N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee

Krispy Kreme Fundraiser 2013Jillian is the editor of this periodic newsletter to inform N.C. Judicial Center employees of events held by the Employee Appreciation Committee.


N.C. Judicial Center SafetyNCJC High Wind Safety Newsletter

Jillian is the editor of these special-edition newsletters that recognize National Safety Month and provide relevant emergency information to N.C. Judicial Center staff on behalf of the Emergency Planning and Safety committees. Learn more through her NCJC Safety Newsletters blog post.


Inside the Chambers

Jillian is the production editor of this newsletter that provides weekly legislative updates to all employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch while the N.C. General Assembly is in session.


Praise for Jillian’s Newsletters

“Thank you for providing our employees so much information and helping to make this a fun place to work.” – an executive manager

“BB thanks for the article and thanks for being such a class act.” – a manager

“I thought today’s BB was quite good — a very nice presentation/blend of news, stuff and fluff.” – a coworker

Email Newsletter Wins State Government Communications Award

Honorable Mention in Publications: NCAGIO Excellence in Communication Awards 2012

On Friday, September 16, I won the Excellence in Communications Award from the North Carolina Association for Government Information Officers (NCAGIO), during a ceremony at the association’s annual seminar in Chapel Hill. My email newsletter, the N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin, took home Honorable Mention (third place) in the Publications Category.

The NCJC Building Bulletin is a monthly email newsletter for employees who work in the N.C. Judicial Center. I’ve been the editor since June.

NCJC Building Bulletin: October 2012

Check out the October issue of the NCJC Building Bulletin

For the awards, the judges reviewed the following three issues of the Building Bulletin:

I am responsible for all newsletter content. Staff members are encouraged to submit story ideas and drafts, but I also create original articles and images. Then, I put all the content into an HTML template, upload the files to an FTP server, and email the newsletter webpage via Outlook. We’re in the process of transitioning to an email newsletter software service that will eliminate all the hand-coding of HTML that I currently do each month.

I put a lot of hard work into the Building Bulletin, and I’m so proud that it was honored by the NCAGIO!

Writing vs. Editing

writing or editing

“How many tablecloths does it take to cover a football field?”

That was the single most interesting (if incredibly bizarre) job interview question I’ve ever been asked. Coming in a close second, though, is the question: “Do you prefer writing or editing?”

Most people might not find this inquiry that fascinating, except for those of us with a deeply rooted love of the written word and all things grammar-related. I really had to take my time and think through the correct response to this question – not “correct” meaning the answer for which the interviewer was hoping, but “correct” meaning true to myself and my passion for written communication.

First of all, there is writing. There can be no editing without writing. Writing requires creativity to come up with an idea, an argument, and a structure. Writing requires research to make the story work and a vocabulary to make it come alive. Writing is creating.

Then, there is editing. All good writing is rewriting. It takes a keen editing eye to tweak and perfect ideas and words into their strongest possible versions. Editing means examining existing thoughts, detecting flaws, imagining all the possibilities, and rearranging writing until it really truly pops.

It was a tough decision – but, ultimately, I chose editing. I love writing, but I love the rewrite more. It can be incredibly challenging but also extremely fulfilling. I love taking my own thoughts and finding ways to improve them – making them clearer and stronger. I love helping others improve their words, as well. From proofreading for grammar and style to restructuring entire arguments, I enjoy working with other writers to strengthen their communications. In the end, editing is a more satisfying experience.

Which do you prefer?

WebContent 2011

WebContent2011

Two weeks ago, I used my annual Viget conference allowance to attend WebContent 2011 — a web content strategy conference in Chicago. This year’s theme was “Going Mobile,” so I was hoping to learn a ton about mobile sites and content that would help me better serve my clients… And the conference did not disappoint!

Kristina Halvorson presenting at WebContent 2011

Web content guru Kristina Halvorson presenting at WebContent 2011

I’ll be doing a quick overview write-up shortly for the Viget blog (which I’ll post here, as well), and hopefully I’ll get around to more specific posts about my new mobile content knowledge soon!

WebContent 2011

Conference attendees waiting for the first workshop to start. There I am, right in the middle! (photo from the conference's Facebook page)

Short and Sweet Website Copy

Web

November 30, 2009
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

Less is more when it comes to website copy.

Think about it. When you visit a website, do you carefully read every single word on the page? l doubt it. Very few people do! In fact, according to research on useit.com, “users will read about 20% of the text on the average page.”

To combat this problem, your website needs strong, concise copy. Users are more apt to digest one powerful sentence than a long, diluted block of gratuitous words – so be clear, compelling, and get to the point. Don’t fill your site with long, flowery paragraphs, or else your true message may get lost amidst the unnecessary fluff.

lf you must include a significant chunk of text, here are some tips to optimize your copy for skimming and scanning. l like this article because it practices what it preaches. It uses bullet points, bold font, links, and white space to make the main points stand out, even if you‘re only briefly scanning the article.

Which of these pages is more likely to grab your attention?

However, even with these tips, it‘s best to keep things short and sweet whenever possible. As Mark Twain famously said, “If I’d had more time, l‘d have written a shorter letter.” Just because you can write paragraphs and paragraphs doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Sometimes it takes more skill to write a shorter sentence, and it can be a much more effective marketing tool.

In my previous career writing TV news promos, l had less than 15 seconds to get my message across, so I had to make every single syllable count. On your website, make every word count. Cut redundant or unnecessary words and paragraphs. Each sentence should support the page’s main message – and if it doesn’t, you may want to reevaluate why you‘ye included it in the first place.

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