by Victoria DaCosta
E-newsletters are the next generation of providing and receiving news. Just as e-mail has become the replacement for phone calls and voice mail, the way in which we receive news online is also changing. I believe we are on the brink of a cyberspace news and e-learning explosion.
If you have an e-mail address, you may have already experienced unwanted e-news. But what about the e-news you want to receive? There are companies and individuals out there hoping to get our attention with e-newsletters. I have been receiving e-newsletters from different sources now for about six years. Not only are they becoming more sophisticated - with elaborate graphics and Web site links - but they have also become a lot more entertaining and fun to read!
What exactly is a e-newsletter? My description is that it’s a shortcut for disseminating a large amount of information at the lowest cost to the publisher. That is why I feel that most local ADHA components should create their own version of online e-newsletters, so they can reach both members and nonmembers in the most efficient and powerful way possible.
All you need is content. I will make some recommendations below on building content for your component e-newsletter. Before you read on, though, know that the best content is that which is interesting and fun to read. Make e-learning fun! There is really no limit to what can be created with a bit of imagination and a talented graphic designer. In my component, we actually had a dental hygienist who was also a graphic designer. She had many creative ideas for developing Web site links that were unique to our city.
We get a lot of “dental hygiene” flyers and advertisements via snail mail from dental companies and seminar organizations , which assume we have the time to read them all. But let’s face it, we usually throw out the extra paper after only a brief scan. We could actually go to a Web site to learn more about the event if a link appears on the direct mailer.
The key success with any e-newsletter is to collect the e-mail addresses of your members. The best and easiest way to reach members online is through today’s most popular communication method - a member’s own e-mail address. Once you accomplish this task, not only will you be able to introduce members to the world of hygiene e-news, but you will also have an audience of attentive readers. The exciting ingredients in e-newsletters are the topics. Create interesting topics and you will engage more interested readers!
I like receiving e-newsletters for a several reasons. I have an instant storage space on my hard drive for favorite topics and for instant resource retrieval whenever I need it. I have discovered Web site links for topics that I want to learn more about, and that I would not have time to otherwise research. I can quickly retrieve current information in a short amount of time, and time is always a valued commodity for an active hygienist.
To build an interesting e-newsletter, there are some key elements to follow.
Web site links - This is one of the easiest ways to drive traffic to a Web site. Give a little introduction to the Web site and its link. For example, write, “Find out how to decrease job stress: www.put-a-link-here is an article provided by your component-Web site.com.
PDFs - An Adobe PDF format is the most popular way to download a document without the worry of different computerized formats. I love this feature in e-newsletters. Your members can print out flyers, maps, or articles to take to work and share at meetings.
Media - With the ease of viewing photos and videos online, you can also add a few from meetings, events, and highlighted individuals to your component e-newsletter. You can even add audio clips to your e-newsletter.
Quotes - My favorite e-newsletter contains weekly quotes. Personally, I look forward to reading them and have become conditioned to seek out these motivating words of wisdom every week.
Highlight member benefits - Another way to interactively involve membership is to highlight benefits. What kind of discounts to parks, places, and other attractions in the community does a member receive? We often pay our annual dues, but we rarely read the back of our membership card to take advantage of those special deals.
No printing costs.
No mailing costs.
Members print out sections that interest them.
Distributes a lot of information through one Web site link.
Readers have the discretion to browse and search for information.
More content can be put into an e-newsletter than on paper.
Makes it easy to join an e-mailing list.
Make last minute changes, with no charge from the printer.
Reach a greater audience with a wide variety of topics.
Includes short content material for quick reads.
Can forward e-newsletter articles to colleagues.
Lack of high quality appearance and feel.
Spam software may block your e-newsletter.
Snail mail can still be fun to receive.
Not everyone has an e-mail address.
Not everyone checks his or her e-mail regularly.
Start with your component theme in mind
Visit your favorite dental sites. They usually offer a place where you can register for an e-newsletter
List your component e-newsletter sign-up on your component’s Web site
Organize your e-news outline; a title such as, “In this issue...,” helps guide your readers to topics
Keep consistency and a familiar look for the online reader. This helps to create comfortable reading!
Contact your favorite dental companies for advertisement links, with an option for perk incentives to your members
Victoria DaCosta, RDH, BS, is founder and president of Hy-Tech Solutions. A practicing dental hygienist for 18 years, DaCosta is a speaker, author, consultant, and an expert in the design of medical/dental software. She is also on the new technologies committee for the California Dental Hygienists’ Association. DaCosta can be contacted at www.hy-techsolutions.com.