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All Work and No Play: Make Your Fraternity Newsletter More Engaging


We live in an age where a deluge of digital media seeks our attention. We’re constantly divided between tasks like homework and scrolling through Facebook on our phone, watching a YouTube “Most Unbelievable NFL Touchdown Celebrations” video or Tweeting about that killer tailgate last weekend.

Everyone was at that tailgate. It was pure epicness.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Our attention spans are shrinking, *cough,* and genuinely engaging someone with meaningful information is getting harder and harder.

Whether it’s an email to a friend or a pamphlet about a new product, it’s just plain hard to get someone to read something for very long.

Now think about your alumni, who have a ton of responsibilities between careers, families and volunteer duties.

On a scale of one to ten, how difficult do you suppose it is for a brother to engage an alumnus for more than a few minutes at a time?

If you guessed eleven, you’re on the right track.

There are hundreds of things fighting for alumni’s attention every day. They’re busy. How busy? Think how hard you have to hustle just for a few seconds to breathe between classes, work and fraternity life. Yet your alumni wish they could have as much free time as you.

Thus, it’s not a given that alumni will read your fraternity chapter newsletter. Whether or not your newsletter engages its audience is 100 percent on you and your brothers.

Pennington & Company wants to help ensure that your chapter newsletter isn’t All Work and No Play. Here’s how to Make Your Fraternity Newsletter More Engaging.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words in your Fraternity Newsletter

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Don’t get us wrong, you need the words, too. However, the right pictures in the right place can go a long way toward engaging your alumni with your newsletter’s content.

Visuals convey information more quickly than words, grabbing alumni’s attention and holding their eyes on the page long enough to entice them into reading.

Pick images that relate directly to the articles you’re placing them next to, and whenever possible, use pictures of brothers’ or alumni’s faces. Faces in photographs bring a human connection.

For instance, if you’re writing about an alumni awards banquet, or honoring an alumnus for his generous giving, include images of them to accompany your write up.

Photos of brothers can also show alumni the human side of chapter news. If there’s a big philanthropy event coming up, and you’re looking for alumni volunteers, include pictures of brothers and alumni working together from the year before.

Engaging alumni with images can help get them reading your fraternity newsletter, but don’t overdo it. Don’t crowd out the space you need for your articles. This can cause alumni to miss crucial information. Too many images can look sloppy and draw the eye to too many places at once. One or two per article is a good rule of thumb.


Your alumni are closer to putting down your newsletter and flipping on Netflix than you think.

They really want to read it, but watching paint dry is more exciting than your writing, you’re practically begging them to stop reading your newsletter.

Energize your writing by including quotes in every piece. When highlighting an alumnus’s accomplishment, phone up that alumnus and quote him. Do the same when highlighting a brother’s academic success, or touching on a highly-lauded research grant for a university faculty member.

Quotes can break up the monotony of those big blocks of information. Like the images you include in your newsletter, quotes humanize the people you’re writing about and make the whole thing more relatable.

Here’s one gigantic quote you can include right away: a letter from your fraternity chapter president.

A good letter from the president is brief and informative. However, unlike what you may think, this wouldn’t read like a chapter report summary. In fact, the president should address the alumni with a friendly, confident tone about any subjects the chapter wants to get alumni engaged with, and this probably won’t just be chapter news of note.

Don’t use a letter from the president to summarize what’s in the newsletter. Urge him to say what he would if addressing alumni face-to-face with a minute or less to make his point.

An Engaging Fraternity Newsletter Doesn’t Waste Time

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Find that line between conversational and informative in your writing, and don’t stray too far in either direction.

If you simply vomit information onto the page, it’s going to be a chore to read. At one point or another, tell alumni about fundraising or chapter events and initiatives you’d like them to be aware of and/or take part in. The last thing you want is for them to have any negative thoughts about what they’re reading. Get to the point. If you go off on too many tangents, or try to get too informal, you’re going to lose them.

Pro tip: Don’t checker your newsletter with too much slang and informal writing. Even if you think you’re cool enough to write “yo” and “wazzup” to your alumni, you’ll end up sounding like an undercover cop or a 90s anti-drugs PSA. Worse, you’re wasting their time by beating around the bush.

Make relevant information easy to find by placing it near the top of each page. The parts most likely to engage alumni should be clear from the article titles, photo captions and the first few lines of writing.

While the main goal of a fraternity chapter newsletter is to convey information, it has to be engaging for your alumni to actually read it. Build this engagement by making your newsletter more personal and relatable through images, quotes and clear content.

What tips and tricks would you add to our list to make a fraternity newsletter more engaging? Give us the scoop in the comments below.