Can't Find Good Newsletter Items?

Here are 29 good places to look

By Robert W. Bly

Coming up with good story ideas is one of the toughest tasks in publishing a company newsletter. Here's a checklist of story sources to stimulate editorial thinking and help identify topics with high reader interest that help to promote the company.

1. Product stories: New products; improvements to existing products; new models; new accessories; new options; and new applications.

2. News: Joint ventures; mergers and acquisitions; new divisions formed; new departments; other company news. Also, industry news and analyses of event and trends.

3. Tips: Tips on product selection, installation, maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.

4. How-To articles: Similar to tips, but with more detailed instructions. Examples: How to use the product; how to design a system; how to select the right type or model.

5. Previews and reports: Write-ups of special events such as trade shows, conferences, sales meetings, seminars, presentations, and press conferences.

6. Case histories: Either in-depth or brief, reporting product application successes stories, service successes, etc.

7. People: Company promotions, new hires, transfers, awards, anniversaries, employee profiles, customer profiles, human interest stories (unusual jobs, hobbies, etc.).

8. Milestones: e.g., "1,000th unit shipped," "Sales reach $1 million mark," "Division celebrates 10th anniversary," etc.

9. Sales news: New customers; bids accepted; contracts renewed; satisfied customer reports.

10. Research and development: New products; new technologies; new patents; technology awards; inventions; innovations; and breakthroughs.

11. Publications: New brochures available; new ad campaigns; technical papers presented; reprints available; new or updated manuals; announcements of other recently published literature.

12. Explanatory articles: How a product works; industry overviews; background information on applications and technologies.

13. Customer stories: Interviews with customers; photos; customer news and profiles; guest articles by customers about their industries, applications, and positive experiences with the vendor's product or service.

14. Financial news: Quarterly and annual report highlights; presentations to financial analysts; earnings and dividend news; etc.

15. Photos with captions: People; facilities; products; events.

16. Columns: President's letter; letters to the editor; guest columns; regular features such as "Q&A" of "Tech Talk."

17. Excerpts, reprints, or condensed versions of: Press releases; executive speeches; journal articles; technical papers; company seminars; etc.

18. Quality control stories: Quality circles; employee suggestion programs; new quality assurance methods; success rates; case histories.

19. Productivity stories: New programs; methods and systems to cut waste and boost efficiency.

20. Manufacturing stories: New techniques; equipment; raw materials; production line successes; detailed explanations of manufacturing processes; etc.

21. Community affairs: Fund raisers; special events; support for the arts; scholarship programs; social responsibility programs; environmental programs; employee and corporate participation in local/regional/national events.

22. Data processing stories: New computer hardware and software systems; improved data processing and its benefits to customers; new data processing applications; explanations of how systems serve customers.

23. Overseas activities: Reports on the company's international activities; profiles of facilities, people, markets, etc.

24. Service: Background on company service facilities; case histories of outstanding service activities; new services for customers; new hotlines; etc.

25. History: Articles of company, industry, product, community history.

26. Human resources: Company benefit programs; announcement of new benefits and training and how they improve service to customers; explanations of company policies.

27. Interviews: With company key employees, engineers, service personnel, etc.; with customers; with suppliers (to illustrate the quality of materials going into your company's products).

28. Forums: Top managers answer customer complaints and concerns; service managers discuss customer needs; customers share their favorable experiences with company products/ services.

29. Gimmicks: Contents; quizzes; puzzles; games; cartoons.


Robert W. Bly is the author of more than 50 books, including The Copywriter's Handbook (Henry Holt) and Write More, Sell More (Writer's Digest Books). Used by Permission.

You can learn more about Robert W. Bly at his website: