Inquiry: Review a newsletter
For this week’s inquiry activity, I had to visit IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group’s (CSG) website and review one of their newsletters.
At first, all I could think was… Crocodiles? No thanks. Too scary.
However, as I read their newsletter, I found myself more and more intrigued.
Who knew there was so many positives things about crocodiles?
The newsletter’s topics include crocodile:
- Captive propagation
The stories were directed both internally towards organisational members and volunteers, and externally towards “fans” (apparently there is such a thing) of crocodiles.
- The minutes of the latest CSG Steering Committee Meeting
- Short updates from other specialist crocodile groups worldwide
- A list of recent scientific journals about crocodiles, including the abstract of each article.
They targeted CSG’s special-interest audience (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 327) by:
- Informing them of the organisation’s plans
- Updating them on developments within the industry
- Providing them with information on how to do their jobs better.
Some of the articles, such as the recount of the 24th CSG Working Meeting, had a light-hearted, “fluff” tone in part.
However, the articles were continually linked back to one of the three points listed above, which ensured that readers’ attentions were captured and maintained (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 327).
Out of all these articles, the one that caught my attention was “Navigating with the Orinoco Crocodile” from Colombia’s Regional Report.
This was because it appealed to my human interest and also showcased an organisation’s successful achievements (Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith 2012, p. 21).
If I were a science journalist, I could develop a positive follow up story about how the National University of Colombia and “Cormacarena” helped the National Conservation Program of Orinoco Crocodile achieve their goals.
The most effective aspect of the newsletter is that it fulfils an unmet need (Newsom & Haynes 2005, p. 338).
In this instance, that unmet need was a unique, specialised and educated publication about crocodiles.
The newsletter is printed on a white background which gives the impression of cleanliness.
It also features a black serif font. While this is formal, it’s appropriate for the newsletter’s overall academic style.
It has also struck a balance by using jargon when appropriate yet maintaining an overall use of simple English to communicate messages fully (Newsom & Haynes 2005, p. 343).
What lets the newsletter down is its use of long paragraphs.
While some paragraphs are only four to five lines long, some run for eight lines or longer, so the text needs to be “chunked” a little more (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 328).
Boxes have been used to try and break up the newsletter’s text.
However, the text is too close to the edges of the boxes which makes it difficult to read.
Based on Newsom and Haynes’ (2005, p. 351) criteria, this newsletter is highly effective because:
- It fulfils an unmet need
- It is distributed on CSG’s website so intended readers can access it easily
- It is issued frequently enough to remain timely but not so often that the content is repetitive
- CSG’s staff are committed to its production.
The newsletter’s overall visual design could be improved but generally, it is appropriate for an academic publication.
Ames, K 2016, Module 9: Newsletter and brochures, course notes, COMM11007: Media Writing, CQUniversity e-courses, http://moodle.cqu.edu.au
IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group 2016, Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 1-32.
Logo n.d., graphic, IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, viewed 14 September 2016, http://www.iucncsg.org/pages/Support-the-CSG.html
Newsom, D & Haynes, J 2005, ‘Chapter 17: newsletters’, in D Newsom & J Haynes, Public relations writing: form and style, 7th edn, pp. 336-352, Thomson Wadsworth, Toronto.
Whitaker, W R, Ramsey, J E & Smith, R D 2012, Media writing: print, broadcast, and public relations, 4th edn, Routledge, New York.
Editing Notes: A conclusion was added to this post to summarise my analysis, as per Nicholas’ below feedback.
An s was added to ‘point’ as per Catherine’s below feedback.