Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Read all about it? My top ten rules for tenant newsletters

One thing I always hear about tenants' newsletters is that people don't read them. How can housing associations make newsletters more reader-friendly?

These are my top ten rules, but I'd love to hear your suggestions:

  1. Let's hear tenant voices: quote them wherever possible. Ask tenants to contribute articles, write in letters or talk about their neighbourhood.
  2. Pictures, pictures, pictures! Ideally, of tenants - people like to see people. Make sure the photos show a diverse range of customers so no one feels excluded.
  3. The copy should be sharp and sparkling: get rid of unneeded words and let your organisation's personality shine through.
  4. Balance the words and images: great swathes of texts are off-putting. Break the copy up with bullet points, cross-heads and pull out boxes.
  5. Keep it short: anything over eight pages is tooooo loooong.
  6. Be brave: if your organisation has made a mistake or performed poorly, admit it, say how you will put it right and then let customers know when you've done it.
  7. Use regular features as landmarks throughout the newsletter so ctenants know to look out for them.
  8. Pinch good ideas from wherever you can. If it works, use it.
  9. Involve tenants - and ask them what they want and give them the opportunity to comment on the newsletter.
  10. Strive to make every edition better than the last.

And a few last pointers on design:

  • Pay a professional to do it: it'll be worth every penny
  • Make it colourful, but ensure the balance is easy on the eye
  • Minimum point size 12 for the copy - anything less is tiring to read.

What are your rules for tenants' newsletters?


  1. Hi Kate, nice list.

    I would add: be clear about why you're publishing a newsletter. If you don't know what it's for then you can be sure that the tenants won't know.


  2. Thanks Ben - yeah that's definitely true. I'd also say, question whether you need a newsletter at all...but that's probably a separate blog!

  3. Great idea for a post

    How many RSLs don't have a tenants newsletter? How many of those that do have a clear idea of what they're seeking to achieve with it.


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