What’s Up with That Rag of a Newsletter?

ragI just received a newsletter from a company that makes social apps for Facebook. I’m not going to name names, but it was a rag. The content was so-so, but it was full of terrible grammar and the misused punctuation we writers loath. Plus, they poured on the jargon. Here’s my review.

  • The headline made reference to “must do’s.” There’s not a letter missing between “do” and “s.” It’s “must dos.” Always will be.
  • The writer mixed American and British spellings. I’m fine with receiving content from across the pond. I just don’t want to see a mix of spellings, especially from a company here in the States. I know this is a ticky detail, but I was trained to use the spelling and culture of my audience in email communications. Just sayin’!
  • The writer used single quotations repeatedly. You always use double quotation marks unless you are quoting within a quote or quoting within a headline. Ask Grammar Girl. Again, a ticky detail, but a real writer knows this stuff.
  • The writer used lots of jargon. I’m not into jargon – at all. While some companies are, I think it makes your newsletter harder to read.
  • The newsletter focused on features of their product; not benefits. I’m fine with product calls to action. However, please give me the benefit of using this feature or I won’t click.

My recommendations for turning a rag of a newsletter into a gem:

  • Write to your audience in their language.This company markets to people who use Facebook apps. The language should be simple and casual.
  • Think before you use jargon. There’s always a better way to say it. It all goes back to being simple. Don’t dilute your words.
  • Take a crash course in punctuation. It makes your emails so much prettier and professional.
  • Don’t forget to give readers benefits in all e-communications. The simple question is always “What’s in it for me?”
I love to help companies sharpen their newsletters and communications with customers. If you ever need a second set of eyes, drop me a line. Oh yeah, please check out my e-newsletter – How to Communicate Brilliantly in a Minute. Seriously, it’s a quick tip on how to improve your communications without the jargon.