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I just ran across this thread today, and thought, Wow! We need to do this again, sharing your newsletter techniques with other AACA members.

Before you read this thread, be aware that John Packard and Past President Ron Barnett passed away some years ago. John won a lot of Master Editor awards, but also the prestegious Ann S Eady Award. John was a very reserved fellow and a credit to the AACA. Ron was very instrumental in getting this web site online. Without Ron and PeterG, it would not have happened. Jan and Vern Kamholtz are also ME winners and also an Eady winner. Jan is also the Rummage Box editor for 2012. Bruce Wheeler is still active on the Library Board. Of course everyone knows Terry. Also, please be aware that the web site has been updated many times since this was posted in February of 2001, so they are some things out of place. Also, please be aware that some of these ideas are a little dated, but still important as a reminder of what works for great newsletter production.

Please let all of us know what you are doing to improve your newsletter!

Enjoy!

Wayne

From John Packard:

Now that the results are in for both the print and web editor awards (all well deserved!), what do you plan to do differently in the coming year? I was very impressed with Bob Stein's Tidewater web site. I think I'll reformat mine to be less of a newsletter duplicate and more of an announcement of upcoming events to stimulate new members. I also like his use of photos on most of the pages. Less text and more graphics. As for our printed newsletter, the trend seems to be toward color and high quality printing. Also, I plan to restructure my newsletter exchange. I'll keep all the local relationships in order to be up-to-date on what area clubs are doing; but I think I'll drop the others. It will be interesting to see how the new area representatives can impact our web & print efforts. Any comments?<P>jnp

Edited by R W Burgess (see edit history)
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John,<P>My first idea was to shut off the computer, and go running out to find another, more qualified editor and webmaster to fulfill the jobs. smile.gif (just kidding)<P>Actually.. after the humbling experience.. I still look forward to producing forthcoming newsletter issues and webpages (yes..I do both)<P>As far as the newsletter...since I just recently acquired the position (February is my second issue) I am still experimenting with the new format. Over the next couple of months you will probably see changes.. some small.. some large... as I try to determine what works best. I would appreciate any comments you have on the issues you receive from me.<P>If color and high quality printing is the trend for a winner, our newsletter probably will not be winning any awards soon. My goal IS to produce a quality product!! However with the funding in our small club, our newsletter cannot be professionally printed like many. Ours is essentially a basement generated product.. using a Pentium 120 computer, Canon 240 printer and a desktop black and white Canon Copier of limited abilities. My wife Di and I prepare, format,print and copy each of the approximate 720 pages individually (hand feed due to the copier limitations), fold and stamp and mail ourselves. <P>We may not be able to compete with the professionally printed papers but ours has as much heart in it as any..maybe more. and I will always strive to improve and create something our club can be proud of.<P>As for the website, I'll have to see what I can think of for enhancing our site. You have some good ideas worth considering. I'm glad you passed them along.<P>Happy Antique Motoring!<BR>Bruce <P>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 02-12-2001).]<p>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 02-12-2001).]

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One of the most exciting things that AACA will be doing in the future is implementing the website contest. Basically the contest will parallel the current Newsletter Contest. When I get settled down from the Philly trip, I will prepare a detailed description of the criteria and the procedures which will be used by the AACA Internet Committee for selecting the winners,

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I'm hoping to bridge more content between our newsletter and our website. We're not able to do much with color in the newsletter yet, but we can more than make up for that on the website!<P>I'm also going to take a longer look at some of the Best in Class websites, and see what they have that we don't, and adjust accordingly (putting our own spin on it, of course). I'm just a beginner, but I'm trying!<P>Jan K.

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JanK, I agree that color possibilities are much greater on the web than in print for those clubs with limited budget. Our black and white newsletter costs close to one-half of the Region's annual budget! Bruce, your approach is labor intensive; but does save money! I experimented with various background colors and "wallpaper" for our web site and found them confusing in that the copy was difficult to read. What struck me about the Tidewater site was that Bob uses a white background! The color is in the masthead and pictures. Bruce, take a look at the New Jersey Region and Sugarloaf Mountain Region newsletters. They are consistent Master Editor recipients and use very little color. New Jersey uses different color paper and the Piston Popper has color on the cover page. The Piston Popper is interesting because three different editorial teams have done it and they all received the Master Editor Award. My reference to color was primarily directed toward the Hornet's Nest Region. They have beautiful color covers. Content is very important and broad based member contributions. All three newsletters mentioned here have excellent content. I was honored to receive the Master Editor award for three consecutive years; but since I changed format and forgot one year to enter the contest have not repeated. At the Newsletter Seminar in the past the quality of graphics has been emphasized. I know that mine have suffered since I went to a digital camera and we switched to xerox printing rather than offset. We saved on the cost of the printing and the digital camera allows more timely insertion of pictures; but the image quality has suffered. I like your initial efforts, keep up the good work!<P>jnp

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John,<P>Thanks for your kind comments on my initial work. I'm trying. I appreciate any suggestions or advice you may ever want to pass along.<P>Yes, the way the Horn is being done right now is labor entensive but it is to create a quality product for our region that I am willing to do it. Guess I'm a little nuts smile.gif<P>Speaking of the newsletter contest, when does the paperwork you need to send in generally come out? <P>Tidewater Region does use a white background but the texture and the watermark of their logo is what breaks it up from being just a plain background. <P>You mentioned about colored backgrounds being difficult to read. Would appreciate it if you would look at our region site some time and let me know if you think it is difficult to read as I use the blue background of our region colors (blue and white).<P>Instead of a wallpaper, try using a watermark instead. This way the image is not as overpowering but can still provide a strong background.<P>Best wishes to you in hopes that you will soon be returning to the Master Editor ranks as before smile.gif<P>It was good to see you again and talk with you in Philly.<P>Jan, <BR>I too hope to bridge between the newsletter and website more so that they work off and enhance each other. Have not figured out how to do such a thing yet but think its will be very beneficial in the usefullness of each.

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We've made some babysteps on the bridge between the newsletter and website this past month ( <A HREF="http://www.aaca.org/wisconsin" TARGET=_blank>http://www.aaca.org/wisconsin</A> ). Look for the Beam Excerpts page. All we've included so far is a thumbnail of the cover and one of the articles cut and pasted, but it seems to be attracting attention. We'll do the same with the Feb. issue when it becomes available next week.<P>I used one of the FrontPage templates for our site, and have been pleased with the readability. Let me know if you agree.<P>As for color printing/copying being "necessary," I respectfully disagree. The Beam has been a consistent Master Editor Award winner, under a variety of editors. My husband and I have been lucky enough to get 7 of them, one for each year we were editors. Only in the past year did the cover ever have any color. (We weren't the editor then, but the new editor did get another MEA.) For two covers the owners of the featured cars paid for the special treatment. On occasion we've printed on colored paper for effect, but we never incurred an additional cost.<P>Clarity of our photos are important to us, and we're investigating how to get good pictures without breaking the bank. One option currently under consideration is the purchase of a "commercial" scanner, capable of scanning at 1200x1200. We've been told that this type of scan works best with most printers and reduces their preprint costs. It could save us $75 or more each month in total costs, which would be significant. <P>Jan K.<BR>Wis Region AACA<BR>Beam and Web Editor<p>[This message has been edited by JanK (edited 02-14-2001).]

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I would like to discuss the issue of content of the newsletter. Graphics and layout are important factors in conveying our message; but there has to be substance to that message. In every issue I include: activity reports, President's message, membership meeting minutes, editor's message, news items about the members, classified ads, and an activity calendar. In addition I have several regular features: two commentary columns and an "Auto Facts" column. Contributors are so good about submitting their material that I hate not to use it. The one commentary column is from a member with strong opinions that he is not reluctant to express. The other is from a hearing and speech challenged member who loves cars and has a fantastic memory for details concerning every vehicle he has seen or owned! Perhaps four columns by individuals is too much. Regarding meeting minutes, they can become very detailed. I have heard at seminars that they should be summarized rather than printed in total. I suspect that the activity calendar is the most popular item in our bulletin. People want to know the details concerning upcoming events. Classified ads also tend to be popular; but I don't get much feedback as to their effectiveness. In our activity reports we always list everyone who participated, since most people like to see their names in print. I also like to feature pictures of their cars. Unfortunately, these reports tend not to be timely. What do you, my fellow editors, consider to be the essential core content of your newsletters?<P>jnp

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The content of our newsletter is similar to the one John publishes in some regards. <P>The club related sections contain the President's message, club info, Secretary report, sick bay, member news, and activity reports. These are presented in the front sections as they deal with the members.<P>The activity calender listing our region sponsored events is one of the most useful tools for our members and is on the front for easy reference.<P>I too like to list names of activity participants along with the car they drove to the activity. (Yes..members love to see their name in print)<P>I try to place a special announcement with its own byline for the program planned at the next meeting if it is known before he newsletter goes out. This may make someone more interested in attending the meeting if they know what will be happening besides the regular club business. I have in fact seen successful results of this.<P>The secretary provides a much briefer summary of the minutes for the newsletter as the minutes are usually covered in more detail at business meetings.<P>Miscellaneous items such as Rummage Box articles or reports on activities outside of the club (the filler) are farther in the back. I make sure to include information other than club articles because there are people that get tired of reading about activities they attended or already know about and hopefully these make the newsletter more interesting.<P>I have also started two regular sections to go with the miscellaneous articles. One is a section called "Lighter Side of Driving in each issue that provides an automobile related joke. <P>There is also a new feature I am trying every other month called "Can You Guess the Mystery Car" This consists of a photo of a rare or unusual car and clues to its identity. The answer, plus some available historical information on the mystery car, is presented the following month. <P>The final page is reserved for my editorial (if I have one) and REMINDER. The REMINDER is the last section they read and lists things that club members should remember such as the next meeting date, dues, etc.<P><BR>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 02-15-2001).]<p>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 02-15-2001).]

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Our February issue goes to the printer today, so I'm very current on what goes into our newsletter.<P>Our regular items include:<BR>Calendar of Events<BR>Monthly Board meeting minutes (1-2 pgs.)<BR>President's Message<BR>Editors' Remarks (two editors)<BR>Web Editor's Update<BR>Social Event recaps<BR>Classifieds & Other Non-club events<BR>Paid Ads<BR>Cover story<P>We've also been including the minutes from our 2000 Regional Meet committee, and now our 2002 Founders Tour committee, as they become available. We discussed the wisdom of this, and determined that reading about the process, and progress, of these events has actually raised the excitement level within the club, resulting in increased participation. Who would have thought it would have that effect?<P>Occasional contributions are also made by people who have done other things -- gone to National, attended a meet or tour in another region. Others provide history lessons, on a make or model of car, on a place related to collector cars and the like.<P>Two years ago, I tried to start a column called "Behind the Wheel", which never took off. I asked people to tell us about the first car they ever drove, with details on what the car was, who owned it, why they were driving it, where they drove, etc. I got a few, very interesting stories, but nothing after that. I think it's due more to a fear of writing, than lack of a good story, frankly. But then that's usually the case, in our club! (I keep reminding people my title is Editor, not Reporter, but the distinction is lost on many of our members.)<P>Jan K.

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Back a few years ago when I was just a contributor of articles to the neslwetter, I wrote a series of articles called "Monthly Featured Vehicle" that showcased a member's vehicle. I would ask the member for their consent and then arrange an interview at their home.<BR>The articles were written on vehicles in the club that were rare or had a special history and often were seldom seen by other people. <BR>The articles gave the known history of the car and a detailed description of its inside and out plus some info on the owner members. some of the featured cars included a 66 Vette Z06 of which only 992 were produced, an original 67 Chevelle SS 396 with less than 30,00 original miles, a very original HPOF certified, 1948 Buick convertible with only 23,000 miles, and a 1912 buick sold her in the county that still remains in the county and was donated to the Ripkin Museum.<BR>The best part of it for me was hearing the many interesting stories people were happy to tell during the interviews and often being able to sit in many of the fascinating vehicles!<BR> Oh.. and writing the article was kinda fun too. smile.gif<BR>I am hoping to again be able to have this feature as there are still many interesting vewhicles in the club such as the unrestored 1917 Miller Hearse. Plus I miss the fun of the interview process! smile.gif

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Bruce,<BR> For many years Willard Prentice did photos and articles on member cars for the Chesapeake Bulletin. Frequently the members themselves wrote the articles and Willard did the photography. Typically I would have two or three articles ahead as he kept churning them out. Members are always getting new cars so its an almost never ending source of material. I think the members enjoy them, too. Since Willard's passing last year we haven't had much input. Earl Beauchamp in the Northern Neckin News just did an article on a '29 Packard that formerly belonged to Chesapeake Region members Earl Anstine and Will Edgar. I plan to reprint that to update our members on the car.<P>jnp

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, had to get into the closet and dust off my "publications" hat but felt the need to jump into this thread to talk about content. When I was VP of publications and had the chance to review all those wonderful newsletters, those that stood out from the crowd had "content." They universally did a great job reporting and promoting. Its one thing to say that an event was held and then list the folks who were there, and its an entirely different thing to actually report on what happened so anyone reading it would feel like they missed something important if they werent there. Same for promotion - Hype is necessary, and the difference between just listing a date and place and actually trying to "encourage" people to participate makes the difference between an average newsletter and one that does it's job. How well it works FOR the club is important. It should be positive, upbeat and encouraging. I remember seeing far too many newsletters that were negative and filled with the club's 'dirty laundry.' I guess the editors involved felt it was their own personal forum but what it really did was turn people off, including (unfortunately) new or prospective members. Fancy color covers and photos are not necessary. Nice clip art,tastefully selected to highlight an article or story work just fine and serves to break things up into easy on the eyes sections. <BR>Ive also been a great believer in "the Two C's" Consistency, and continuity. First, people reading your newsletter expect to see regular things in their regular places. The first thing they will do is scan thru to see themselves in print - so honor that and get those event reports right up front. Next thing,people will want to look at the upcoming stuff so make the calendar of events an easy to find and read piece of the newsletter, and don't forget articles about those upcoming activities with plenty of hype and all the detailed info needed to enable that brand new member (or stranger to your area) get there on time. Continuity is important from issue-to-issue. Ive particularly enjoyed reading ongoing series stories, or regular features about members cars. The newsletter is by and for the membership so getting lots of members mentioned in them (of if using pictures, lots of smiling faces) is vital. Pics - if you use them they should be good. The only thing you can ever say about a bad picture is that it sure is a bad picture! If any editors are having trouble reproducing them look for a printer with a Xerox Docutech. Its a quick-copy xerox with the ability to computer enhance your photos - check it out and you'll be surprised at the quality. <BR>Nothing beats looking at a quality product to get ideas and see how your own Newsletter (or web site) stacks up. Hope this helps, just some observations from looking at about 4 years worth of your newsletters and enjoying every one of them! The overwhelming feeling I got after doing Dave Z's job for a couple of years was that AACA is alive and well, and you folks sure do know how to have some fun!<BR> Terry

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  • 11 years later...

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