How to write a newsletter

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in PR

Newspaper Wallpaper: Melissa by SelfMadeCelo

Photo: SelfMadeCelo

Most companies will tell you that 80% of their business comes from 20% of their customers.

This is the 80-20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Law,  named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, and that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas (Wikipedia).

That being the case, how companies communicate to their existing customers is crucial to their financial success. (How they communicate to people who are not yet customers is an entirely different subject that we will cover later.) Most companies publish newsletters or magazines for distribution to their existing customers, showcasing their product changes, upgrades, staff re-shuffles and the like.

Headlines that grab

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in PR, Uncategorized

The job of the headline writer is to capture the essence of the story in a few words.

The headline sells the story.

Some people are brilliant at it. Years ago I wrote a story for a newspaper about how car rental company Hertz was planning to grab market share from its rival Avis.

The headline writer came up with this:

Hitting Avis where it Hertz

Irreverent, yes, but also funny. I doubt Avis were pleased, but our job was not to pander to the sensibilities of companies in the public eye.

Ghana leads business boom

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in Journalism

Accra, Ghana by littledutchboy

Photo: Creative Commons

South Africans are pouring into Ghana, the world’s fastest-growing economy, with a growth rate of 14.4% last year.

Stroll through any town in Ghana and it is impossible to miss the South African presence. There are Engen garages, Stanbic branches and ATMs in all the major towns and MTN signs are as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola. The 21,000m2 Accra Mall, recently sold by private equity group Actis to the Pretoria-based Atterbury Property Group for $65-million (for an 85% share), would not look out of place in Centurion or Sandton. Three of the biggest tenants in the mall are Game, Mr Price and a Shoprite that stocks a range of South African products at prices that would not seem out of place in some of the more expensive European capitals.

Surrender ultimatum to Queen Elizabeth

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

Sergio Rueda - Bono U2 by srueda43

Photo: flickr.com
Sergio Rueda – Bono U2 by srueda43

We, the people of Ireland (including her sons and daughters in the Diaspora), hereby demand the immediate surrender of Her Majesty’s Government and the hand-over of the keys of Parliament to Michael O’Leary, our designated representative in London. He can usually be reached at the Lambeth Tavern, off King’s Cross Road (mind the missing manhole cover outside the entrance). You will also be required to vacate Buckingham Palace.

You have 48 hours to respond to this ultimatum. Failure to comply with these demands will be met with all the force of Irish retribution of which you know we are capable, commencing with a one week non-stop song fest hosted by Bono and Riverdance and beamed relentlessly into your homes and places of worship.

You have been charged and convicted in abstentia of the following crimes:

The lost art of written communication: Part 1

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in PR, Uncategorized

Here are some thoughts I penned some time back about the waning art of written communication (more later)….

Paperback Writer by Marxchivist

Photo: flickr.com
Paperback Writer by Marxchivist

How often have you met someone who seemed intelligent and articulate in conversation, but who in writing couldn’t string a coherent sentence together?

The truth is that we judge people by the quality of their written communication. Email has made it possible to access a vast number of people in no time at all. Bash out a message and you can send it off to thousands of readers. If it is badly written, poorly constructed and littered with grammatical and spelling errors, your credibility is damaged, even if slightly. It shows lack of care or poor schooling.

On the other hand, send out a message that is brief, simple, elegantly crafted and devoid of errors – and you will be taken seriously. Your star will shine.

Those who aspire to senior office in any organisation had better know how to write – and to write well.