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Emailing list are regularly used method. Most RI have several different email-lists, both for internal and external communication. List can be used for updates, advertising upcoming events, sending requests etc. Many RsI use emails as the primary way in which they keep in contact with project members and targeted email-list are established for example for different work packages/tasks. One should consider the need of each new list, but avoid too much on the “general” list which do not interest everyone. Remember additional work on maintaining lists (subscriptions, unsubscribes, moderation, etc.). There are tools available for sending out targeted emails for different target groups based on their interests (automatically send).
RIs often publish 3 to 12 newsletters per year. Mailchimp is a popular tool used to make them. Content often describes the latest and planned near future actions of the RI, including events and new products. Newsletters target audience can vary from RI’s internal communication to general public and from researchers to policy makers. Some RIs have different newsletters for internal and external communication. Often the objective is to keep the current community involved in RI’s activities and to attract new data & product users and scientist to join the RI. The content can differ from news briefs to longer blog writings and impacts stories. For many RI’s, advertising upcoming events is popular in newsletters. Several synergies with other communication methods: input to and from website, material to be shared in twitter (whole newsletter and individual stories). It is important to follow up the number of newsletters sent out during a year, number of recipients to whom the newsletter was sent and how many of them opened it (both email and website). The effectiveness of the communication via the newsletter can be followed via clicks, shares and reaches in social media.
Advantages: Good method of disseminating summary info and maintaining direct communication. Via email-lists/Newsletters large groups can be reached if properly distributed. Synergy with other dissemination channels such as website and social media (e.g. Twitter and Blogs).
Challenges: Coordination of the newsletter can be time consuming if not large enough engaged group of people providing the material. Or if one editor is responsible for writing all the content, how to guarantee the continuum. Regular release can be challenging if not enough resources. Estimate the optimal content and amount of it in emails and newsletters (short or long stories/news, only few or several per number). Difficulty of reaching new user groups (interest of subscribing to lists).
Resources: Costs comes from the working hours. Good writing skills and little bit visual eye needed from the editor. Good coordinating and communication skills required to get researchers/RI local officers and other material providers engaged. Taking care of the mailing list, approval of submissions, GDPR rules etc needs resources.
Recommendation: Connect with other dissemination tools. Evaluate the amount of information per newsletter/email and if the newsletter is just short news with links for further information or stand-alone material. Follow up. Beware of GDPR rules so that you have people’s permission to include them into mailing lists. Use project resources to get people send their inputs. Often good idea to have moderated list (i.e. someone approves submissions) to avoid reply-alls.
It is a good practice to have the newsletter released regularly (e.g. first Monday of every second month) and to call for the content regularly (so your own internal community, mainly national communication contact points, are aware of the deadlines to send you their news).
Examples of newsletters. Left ICOS, middle ACTRIS, right TERN.