So you’re going to write a fraternity chapter newsletter. We think that’s great! A chapter newsletter is a great way for fraternity brothers to engage with their alumni, to keep everyone updated on what’s new and--especially if you’ve had fantasies of being an old-timey news man wearing a bowler and sitting at a typewriter . . . . No? Never?--this is your chance to prove your talent as a budding writer.
Who knows, you might end up writing the next Great American Novel.
Okay, so maybe you’re not the reincarnation of F. Scott Fitzgerald. (If for some reason you live in a bubble and have never read The Great Gatsby, it’s a classic and you should go read it right now. We’ll wait.) But you do have a few English composition courses under your belt, and you didn’t totally suck at those. You even finally bought a used MLA style guide.
And you really enjoyed writing that essay about your late night road trip to Denny’s Restaurant with your brothers. That’s basically the same thing, right?
Well, not really. But we like your determination and grit. You’ll go far if you channel that determination into things like learning How to Craft the Perfect Fraternity Chapter Newsletter, with the help of your friends at Pennington & Company.
You were wondering when we were going to get back around to that, weren’t you? Wonder no longer. Without further literary ponderings and navel gazing, let’s jump right in to this whole chapter newsletter thing.
Rule Number One: It’s All about Alumni, Alumni, Alumni
The name “chapter newsletter” is not exactly a misnomer, but it also might give you the wrong impression about how to focus the content of what you’re writing. Think of it as less of a chapter newsletter, and more of a “way for the chapter to connect” newsletter.
And alumni are who you want your fraternity chapter newsletter to connect with.
That’s right. Alumni. Those people who help support your chapter financially and are your biggest cheerleaders. Remember them?
Then let them know how much you appreciate them! Make the newsletter focused on them and their interests. What does that mean? Well for starters, do some research, get in touch with your alumni, and create a “key alumni” section of your fraternity chapter newsletteras a way to highlight some of their professional accomplishments, life achievements, and any charitable giving or other contributions they’ve made to the fraternity recently. Talk about anything else that’s been going on with alumni or your alumni association, as far as awards or events, or anything else noteworthy.
Alumni might also be interested in recent university achievements in your newsletter, such as a brief list of accomplishments in certain fields by faculty, or if the university has received any notable awards or other recognition.
Rule Number Two: Include Everything Else . . . but It’s Still about Alumni
You’ll want to include a chapter update in your fraternity chapter newsletter, of course! But keep it brief and to the point. Chapter news is the background of your newsletter, whereas alumni are in the foreground. Any notable achievements by brothers should be listed, perhaps an honor roll listing those who’ve done well with their academics, but nothing too in-depth regarding the nuts and bolts of your day-to-day chapter operation. Alumni are interested in what’s going on with the chapter, but to a point.
Remember, they already went through four years of undergraduate chapter life.
You might also include things like a letter from the chapter president, as well as any philanthropic causes your fraternity might be involved with--particularly current causes that alumni might be interested in. Remember to include photographs of alumni and brothers you mention in your fraternity chapter newsletter, and also to keep the tone informative and succinct, rather than long-winded or too informal and conversational. Remember, the idea is to convey what’s going on in a quick and efficient manner.
As for formatting, your chapter may already have a template in place. You’ll want to have a professional newsletter formatting for your chapter newsletter that includes your fraternity’s letters prominently displayed at the top, the issue and date of the newsletter, and important contact information. Let your alumni see the effort and professionalism you put into your fraternity chapter newsletter, as a show of respect to all they do.
Rule Number Three: Reach Out to Alumni, Online and in Person
Your newsletter should be as accessible as possible, meaning it’s easy to download or see displayed online. These days we’re all attached to our phones or tablets, so if alumni can access your fraternity chapter newsletter on a screen while they’re on the subway or sitting down for a lunch break coffee, they’re all the more likely to engage with what your chapter has to say.
However, the most important rule anyone will tell you is that a fraternity chapter newsletter isn’t enough on its own to engage with alumni. While not all alumni are living close enough to hit up the chapter founder’s day barbeque, most still want to keep in touch. For those living outside the immediate area, this may mean using social media and fraternity communication software like GINSystem or GroupMe. But when there is a reason for those alumni to visit, make sure to roll out the red carpet and introduce them to new members, take them to dinner and basically treat them like royalty, or better yet, as older, wiser friends. This will give them a reason to want to read your fraternity chapter newsletter. Why? Because they know the people behind it are human beings who in turn view them as human beings.
Whether you share a harrowing game of Frisbee golf involving saving a Frisbee from a nearby lake, or just share fun photos of your adventures across cyberspace, you’re building bridges beyond the page of a newsletter.
These are a few of the key tips we think will help you build the perfect Fraternity Chapter Newsletter, and have your alumni screaming Extra! Extra! Let us know your thoughts and experiences with your chapter newsletters in the comments below.