Doing Newsletters

What are Newsletters?

Newsletters are written texts produced for distribution to the public that document and announce recent news, upcoming events, and any other pieces of information that may potentially be of interest or importance to a community.

Why Use Newsletters for HIV & AIDS Awareness?

Newsletters are a great way for organizations and projects to get their information out. This simple form of media is very useful for HIV & AIDS awareness campaigns and has much potential for enlightening and educating the public on HIV & AIDS issues. Newsletters can even be e-mailed in order to by-pass the process of mailing and reach a larger audience.

Pros:

    ✓ Newsletters are a proficient means of updating the masses on current events
    ✓ With the Internet, newsletters have become further available to the eyes of hundreds as well as requiring much less effort to send out.
    ✓ Having information delivered to one’s address is often an effective way of gathering knowledge; no exertion is needed on the part of the reader to retrieve information.
    ✓ Youth can be on both the delivering and the receiving end of newsletters, allowing them to play the informer as well as the informed.
    ✓ Through mailing lists, rural towns that are secluded from larger communities can have full access to ever-changing data.

Cons:

    x The process of creating a mailing list of subscribers, as well as mailing the letters, may be expensive and time-consuming.
    x Many rural communities do not have access to the Internet and e-newsletters.
    x E-newsletters can be easily overlooked because of the high number of e-mails people receive each day

Designing a Newsletter

When designing a newsletter, there are some aspects to think about before the newsletter can take its final shape. The first and most important thing to decide is how it will be sent. Depending on the audience, their community, and their surroundings, one must choose whether mail through the post or through the Internet would better suit the target group. From there, it can be decided:

  • The cost of mailing letters
  • Who will be on the mailing list
  • How the receivers will be informed of the newsletter
  • What type of information the newsletter will address
  • Where the information for the newsletter will be obtained
  • How often the newsletter will be sent out
  • How long the newsletter will be
  • How receivers may participate in the development of the newsletter

Necessary Materials

When it comes time to write the newsletter, some basic tools are required. Besides writing utensils and paper (or a computer and a printer), some necessary materials include:

  • Envelopes for mailing
  • Postage stamps
  • Internet access (Keep in mind that you can send out a newsletter from an Internet café or from a school computer.)

Most of the tools involved in sending a newsletter are relatively inexpensive and easily accessible, making this a great tactic for informing the public of HIV & AIDS issues.

Gathering Information for a Newsletter

Information for newsletters can be gathered from books, magazines, clinics, and websites.

To find people who might be interested in contributing, one may contact:

  • Friends and family
  • Local schools and universities
  • Local clinics
  • Community centers
  • Libraries

Getting in touch with teachers, doctors, and community leaders can help to spread the word about the newsletter. Such people can also give advice on topics to focus on in the newsletter as well as offer ideas about groups to contact.

Newsletter Clubs

One way to facilitate the creation of a mailing list and the gathering of information for newsletter writing is to start a club. Members of the club can take turns doing the research and the letter writing, making certain that participation and investment is reciprocated.

Examples of Newsletters Dealing with HIV & AIDS Issues

There are lots of existing websites that serve as wonderful HIV & AIDS resources, and many of these sites send out newsletters by e-mail with updates about HIV & AIDS issues:

Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS - Youth Awake! Newsletters (2005-2008)
http://www.youthaidscoalition.org/resources.html#8

The Body - HIV News & Views (2001 - Present)
http://www.thebody.com/content/art40638.html
http://www.thebody.com/content/art30767.html (review of HIV-related newsletters)

Incorporating Multiple Art Methodologies
Blending various art forms can have a powerful impact on the project at hand, as well as enhance the final product. Some art forms that can be incorporated with newsletters include:

  • Magazines (for articles and resources)
  • Storytelling
  • Websites

Bibliography

LiBretto, Elle V. High/Low Handbook: Encouraging Literacy in the 1990s (3rd Ed.). New York: R.R. Bowker