One of the more modern public relations trends is using in-house magazines and newsletters as a PR tool. This can be a really positive thing if done correctly. One of the most well-known of these magazines is called Planet BP, and it is a monthly magazine that BP created in order to report on their efforts to clean up the oil spill. The thing is, the magazine was so respected for its reporting, not only because it was on the front lines, but also for its brutal honesty about BP, that other news organizations starting using it as a basis for their own news stories.
The use of Planet BP was a calculated move by BP's PR team, to deal with fallout from the spill, and to improve the corporate reputation in general. Many lauded the efforts of BP to try and do the right thing, While others simply called it a PR stunt. But the bottom line is, BP successfully used an in-house magazine as a very effective PR tool that helped minimize damage to their reputation from the gulf oil spill.
Types of Publications
Let's talk about some of the different types of publications that are out there when it comes to in-house magazines. In-house magazines is the catch-all term for pretty much any media that is produced within a company and then released, even in a limited way, to those outside the company. There are several different types of publications that can be produced by a company, and understanding the differences between these types of media will help you understand in-house PR magazines better.
- Magazines: Magazines are definitely the most common type of publication that an organization can put out. These may be glossy and professionally-produced, or they may be more utilitarian.
- Newsletters: The difference between magazines and newsletters is often the quality. But additionally, a newsletter is something specifically created to update a certain group of people on the latest news.
- Journals: A journal is somewhat similar to a magazine but journals are much more scientific in nature. Any articles that they include will usually be from a scientific perspective and everything is based on research,
- Bulletins: Bulletins are a little different. They are usually released just to update statistics and to provide the people with the basic facts on a certain industry or event.
- Fact Sheets: A fact sheet is one or two pages, and it gives you all of the information that you need to know about the company. These are specifically designed for the press, and usually include contact information so that the journalist can get in touch with the media representative of the company.
- Reports: Another type of medium that companies can sometimes release are reports. These are results that have come from research studies conducted on the products and services that the company offers. For example, a company that makes weight loss supplements might a release a report showing that they had a positive result from their supplement in a research study that was recently done.
- Audio and Video Resources: rather than a conventional magazine, newsletter or journal, the company may opt to create in-house magazines for PR purposes that are distributed through some other medium such as a podcast or YouTube video channel. While technically not an in-house magazine or newsletter, these are definitely created for PR purposes.
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In-House Distributed Media: An Important Communications Tool
There is no doubt that distributed media that is produced in house, that is by a specific company about that specific company, is an important communications tool that can be used to provide information to customers, trade organizations, clients and employees. Each organization consists of people and events, and generally people want to know about other people as well as events. This makes creating an in-house newspaper newsletter or magazine a no-brainer, but there is no reason that you cannot make it a PR tool as well. Companies that publish in-house magazines should make sure that they are not only sending out the magazine to their employees, but also to their best customers, their suppliers and anyone else who has a vested interest in the company success.
You also definitely want to post your magazine online, and make sure the people know how to access it. If the people that you send it to end up sharing it, you want to make it easy for the other person to find online. In addition, if you are in charge of the content that goes into this online magazine or newsletter, you want to make sure that you are turning every story and every item in the magazine into some kind of PR tool. Plus, you don't have to distribute it just within the people of your company like the clients and employees. You can distribute it more widely by giving it to family and friends, family and friends of other employees or even posting some sort of advertisement.
Content for an In-House Publication
When most PR people think about how they could do an in-house publication for their company, they wonder what they should put into it. Here are a few suggestions that may help.
- A president's message at the beginning. Your president or CEO should write a short paragraph or dictate one if needed.
- Employee recognition such as birthdays or years of service to the company.
- Employee recognition such as leaders in the sales department, recognition, awards and achievements.
- Interesting stories about other people in the company. People love reading about other people, especially people that they may know personally.
- Other departments, jobs or A Day in the Life features within a company that allows someone in one position to get a feel for what it is like in a different one.
- Company milestones, statistics, picnics, new facilities or community events.
- A humor or joke section as long as there is nothing racist, sexist or any other jokes that could be offensive. This section needs to be completely politically correct.