A member of the Chamber Professionals Group on Facebook asked:
Do you have a policy/SOP for the type of member content that goes in your (e)newsletters? If so, please share.
A policy is a great place to start when soliciting content from members. There is nothing worse than asking someone to contribute and then rejecting them on the grounds of their content being too sales-y.
Assuming you are already collecting revenue from true ads in your newsletter you don’t want to make your member-written content big advertorials. Unless this is the way you plan to change your advertising policy, advertorials (or advertisements that resemble news) are simply not trusted.
Help Your Members Shine Through Content
Ask your members to contribute content on the latest trends (or concerns) in areas they know well. For instance, a marketing and design firm might write a piece on 3 Ways to Improve Your Website. This is of value to your readers – business owners – and it also allows your member to showcase his/her knowledge on the subject. The less sales-y the content, the more well-received it will be.
For credibility, it’s best not to mention their company name in the body of the content but if they must it should be as an example of how a client benefited. For example, Joe’s Garage saw a 30% increase in page views after we made his website mobile friendly and gave him the ability to schedule appointments online.
Give your member a by-line at the end, two or three sentences about them, their company, their expertise, and their contact information. If you’re sending an e-newsletter, give their business a hyperlink in the by-line and include social media profiles for them and/or their business, as applicable.
For member business news, it’s best for the chamber staff to write it with input from the business. If the member insists on writing it, make sure he/she understands you reserve the right to edit for content/space’s sake.
The quality of the content reflects on your chamber. Too much self promotion (by your member businesses) and people will stop reading your newsletter (or at least the parts written by others).
Communicating your content expectations ahead of time will save hurt feelings and bad attitudes in the long run. It will also help you help your members gain a wider audience, one that will appreciate their knowledge and skills.