December 12, 2013

The Serial Newsletter


TV folks realized a long time ago that ongoing stories keep people coming back. Everyone (my age) will remember General Hospital and the Nescafe ads. Using ongoing story telling as the basis of your newsletter can create that same thirst to know “What’s going to happen next?”

This is not a strategy for the uncommitted. It requires planning and writing skill. Your continuing saga may be a real life story or it may be fictional. For either approach you’ll want to sit down and plan your storyline several issues in advance, while creating a vision of where it will go beyond that.

If your story is fictional, you can make it exaggerated and funny, or serious and believable... or whatever you can dream up. Perhaps your main character will be your ideal client. Your story could be about the types of problems that you help your clients overcome. Corinne Boudreau, a lawyer, uses a continuing story in this way to illustrate her expertise. She uses realistic circumstances but without the potential liability of giving advice or the confidentiality issues around using real life examples.

Regardless of whether it’s fictional or real life, here are some things to include in each issue of your serial newsletter that will support your continuing story:
  • Briefly re-introduce the story so that new readers have some context. Include a link back to the first issue where it all started.
  • Remind readers of where you left off last time and include a link to your last issue.
  • Close with a brief summary; recap the lesson learned or decision reached.
  • Include a cliff hanger or a teaser for what is to come next.
This can be a fun and engaging strategy for your newsletter but be prepared for the extra work involved. Don’t expect to whip up a quick article at 1am with your deadline looming.

photo by Jill Clardy

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