The Newsletter Committee

Submitted by Peter George on

I've set up a new committee, 'The Newsletter Committee,' which is intended to address the full range of issues that confront NARGS Chapters as they create, maintain and improve their Chapter newsletters. Newsletters are one of the most effective means of building Chapters, and even with the internet, retain their historical role as the major connection medium between members. Unfortunately, the job of newsletter editor is a difficult one to fill, as there is a perception that the job is both difficult and time consuming, when in fact, it can be quite easy and can take just a few hours a month to complete.

Sally Boyson, the Editor of the newsletter of The Rocky Mountain Chapter, is one of the best editors we have today. Her newsletters are uniformly well designed, interesting and relevant to her Chapter members, and she has agreed to accept the Chair of this new committee. I will serve as well, and we're soliciting at least one other current editor to fill out the 3rd position. This thread will (hopefully) be one important way for editors, chapter chairs and NARGS members to communicate about issues they may have with their newsletters. Sally and I will be checking in often to answer questions, offer suggestions, and generally serve as resources that will help our Chapters improve their newsletters, to the benefit of all NARGS members. So please welcome Sally, and if you have anything to offer, please do. Thanks in advance.



Submitted by RickR on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 17:35

I think some of the Chapter editors already do some networking, but this is a much better, all inclusive idea.  With our Chapter newsletter editor of nine years retiring in 2010 due to health concerns, it's good to know our new editor has another resource to lean on.

Thanks, Sally (and Peter), for agreeing to be part of this!

Submitted by Peter George on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 18:00

Thanks for responding. Let your new editor know about this thread, and let him/her know that we're here to help. Any questions are good questions. And since we're still not able to link all of the Chapter newsletters on the NARGS main page, this venue may turn out to be a really important asset for a new editor. It's also a good way to get some members to start using the Forum!

Submitted by deesen on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 03:10

Hope you don't mind me widening this thread a little. I've been landed with the job of producing an annual Newsletter for my local Alpine Gardening Society Group and I'm really struggling. I'm pretty reasonable at producing something straight forward in Microsoft Word but it's not the best and I'm not getting on too well with Microsoft Publisher. What software do you guys use please?

Submitted by Peter George on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 06:50

Before I give away my secrets, take a peek at the newsletters that are linked on the NARGS homepage. Mine if 'Berkshire.' I've been editor for 7 years, and my skill has evolved quite a bit. When I started, I had absolutely no clue, but today I'm pretty adept. After you've looked at the 10 (or hopefully 11 today) and see which ones are appealing to you. Then post something, and I'll be back with my answer. Sally's answer will also prove to be interesting to you.

Submitted by Boyson on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 11:53

I do use Publisher because my predecessor did, and someone else designed it and went through and made templates and styles for fonts (styles are buried in Publisher 2007).  I did buy a reference book, which I rarely use and can't recommend, as it is not user-friendly (be sure to check for an index--there was one without!).  The previous editor had a step by step book for an old version.  I do think Publisher is more flexible than Word, though, so long as you put in some time to learn what you need.  Text boxes are easier and, in 2007, when you put a photo in, it offers you a mini-editing program.  I've never tried another program.

Let's hear from those who use another program and what they think of it.

Submitted by Peter George on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 12:39

Since Sally is already giving away her secrets, I'll do the same. When I took over, there was no electronic version, so I had to start from scratch. I used Word, because I was comfortable with it, and over the 6 years or so that I've been editor, I've gotten better and I've found new ways to utilize Word. I tried several different publishing packages, but I couldn't figure out how to use them at all, and although I assume that once I did learn how to use one of them, the result might be 'better,' everyone seems to feel that my newsletter is fine as is. My emphasis has been on acquiring material, and keeping the layout simple and clean. I've been offered advice from some pretty talented graphics people, and for the most part, I've taken that advice. I've reduced the number of fonts I use, I've started using color a bit more, I've been learning how to use photographs more effectively, etc. My experience with Word is that it is robust enough for a newsletter, but it lacks a lot of real design capacity, if that is your goal. If you are the type of person who can learn from an instruction book, which I am most certainly NOT, I suggest you try out a couple and see what happens. But in the interim, I would be happy to send you my layout in Word, not PDF, so at least you can use it as a template during your start up period. And I'd be willing to assist you if you have specific issues with layout, typefaces, etc.

Submitted by deesen on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 13:22

Many thanks Sally and Peter. I've had a browse through the Newsletters on the NARGS Homepage  as you suggested Peter and there are some very nice examples, liked yours Sally, and yours looked very professional Peter. Maybe through the winter when I can't get out in the garden I'll make the time to study Publisher in more detail and do some experimentation but, in the meantime, and as I need to get something out by the middle of August I'd be pleased to take up your offer Peter of your Word layout and try it as a template.

Very useful thread this and I shall be keeping my eye on it.