Creative Ways to Get Subscribers

You want to reach as many constituents as you can. You have great content, writing, and photos. Your emails aren’t too long, contain timely and relevant information, and have a clear call to action.

If you have these basics down, there’s still more to do. Here are a few more for your e-newsletter that might not be on your radar screen.

  1. Work with the news cycle/critical times to capture subscribers
    Take some time to think ahead when you have large numbers of visitors to your site: a big news event, a storm, a citizen in the national news. During these times, people will likely visit more often. Seize the moment. Do what you can to sign up these visitors while you have their attention.
  2. Simply ask.
    I know it seems obvious, but it’s sadly overlooked. Every once in a while, tweet or post a request for your constituents to sign up for your e-newsletter .You might be surprised at the results.
  3. Consider your sign-up spot.
    When thinking about where to put your subscription sign-up, use your analytics. Find the most popular pages, and then put your link on the top left of that page. Easy. 

A Match Made in Heaven: Social Media and Your E-Newsletter

You’ve got your email newsletter dialed in. Your social media is running smoothly.

Now what?

The next step in your communications evolution is coordinating these two strategies. When you do, you’ll deliver a cohesive and powerful message. Here a few tips to leverage these two tools:






  1. Plan together. Instead of planning your e-mail newsletter and then adding on social media, or vice versa, plan them with each other in mind. In the same vein, review them together and have all of your metrics in one dashboard so you can analyze the data at the same time.
  2. Encourage interaction. Give your social media fans a compelling reason to sign up for your e-newsletter, and encourage your e-newsletter subscribers to get on your social media train.
  3. Test to your advantage. See what kind of content is popular with your readers, then alert email subscribers to this content and invite them to participate in a discussion.
  4. Use Facebook ads. Test your messaging using a Facebook ad; if it’s popular, roll it our in your blog or newsletter.
  5. Time accordingly. Use your social media channels to alert constituents about upcoming content they might be interested in.
  6. Use the right language.  Keep your goal in mind: moving users across channels. To this end, use language in social media like “Watch your inbox for exclusive news about X just for subscribers.”

We want to know: How do you leverage social media and e-mail newsletter? 

The Single Most Important Question to Ask About Your E-Newsletter

Why are you sending your e-newsletter?

This is the most important question to ask. Not just once in a while, or at a strategy meeting. It’s the single most important question to address — every single time you send one.

This small question has big consequences. When you honestly answer the question, you’ll avoid the most common pitfalls of e-newsletters: long, rambling round-ups of the week’s events, information that just sounds like a sales pitch, too many calls for action, and copy that is general and impersonal.

But when you ask why?, you answer the question about what is important to you. When you ask why?, you’ll be able to write a clear call-to-action that isn’t confusing to the reader. When you ask why?, you might realize that you need to change the format, frequency, or voice. When you ask why?, you’ll be able to write a clear subject line that perfectly aligns with your copy.

Asking this question — and answering it — will give you the underlying structure to send a carefully crafted, concise newsletter that is totally relevant to your supporters. What are you waiting for?

We want to know: Why do you send your e-newsletter?

The Data Speaks: The Best Time to Post

Did you ever wonder when to post a link to Social Media? So did Bitly. The company, known for its shortening of URLs, analyzed the data to discover the optimal days and times to post on the three of the most popular social media sites.

Here’s the best times to post a link, according to Bitly:

1 to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

1 to 4 p.m.

after 7 p.m.

To see graphs with more details, visit

Telephone Town Hall, Part Two: How To Use It

Now that you know the reasons why get your Telephone Town Hall (TTH) strategy going, here are some tips to maximize your outreach.

  • Hold at least one call per month.
  • Feature a special guest, such as another Member, a mayor, or council person from your district.
  • Send out an announcement call to alert constituents of upcoming town halls. Don’t skimp on this step: Research shows that this boosts participation by 15% and increases your live answer rates.
  • Spread the word and gain traction by publicizing on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
  • Include email and mailing address with your dial list so you can create “thank you” or “sorry” notes to send out.
  • Make status updates frequently during the call, including dial-in information if people want to call.
  • Build your subscriber list by asking callers if they want to subscribe to your mailing list or to future calls.
  • Create a Live Answer, Answering Machines, and PostCall voicemail file that you can use frequently.
  • Put audio files and video follow-ups to unanswered questions on your website after the event.

We want to know: What strategies do you use to maximize your outreach with TTHs?

Telephone Town Hall, Part One: Why To Use It

Sometimes the most effective way to reach your constituents is at your fingertips. Literally. A Telephone Town Hall (TTH) is a relatively inexpensive and highly effective tool for outreach. In this two-part series, we’ll explore the whys and hows of making the most of your TTH.

Here’s why to either start or continue with your TTH strategy: 

It’s real-time.

With a TTH, you can interact with your constituents for polling and real-time reporting. This way you know you are getting the most updated information and opinions, and staying absolutely current.

It’s flexible.

You choose when you want to conduct a TTH. Do a teletown hall for seniors in the middle or the day, or come up with other creative times based on your constituents’ needs and habits. 

It’s targeted.

TTH allows you to geo-target areas in your district using small calls, and discuss issues directly relevant to this group. This saves time and gets directly to the information and outreach you want.

Coming Up: Specific tips for your TTH.

Social Media Staffers Finding A Niche in Government

Government is adopting social media strategies at a rapid clip. So it makes sense that offices are building on old-fashioned outreach methods by hiring social media directors. These positions, mostly filled by people who’ve grown up with the Internet and technology, are becoming increasingly common in offices at every level of government.

These staffers do whatever is required to improve — and speed up — outreach and communications, such as track tweets and posts, respond to constituents via social media, act as a liasion between the office and government agencies, and administer polls in real time to make decisions.

The rise of social media directors, however, doesn’t mean they will be the only ones in a communications office anytime soon. It’s all about balance. In an article inGovernment Technology about social media directors, Elaine Pittman writes:

It’s also important to remember that social media isn’t replacing other forms of public outreach. Traditional methods like newsletters and press releases allow issues to be explored in-depth and lend themselves better to being sent out in advance of something happening. Announcements can be condensed for posting on Facebook and Twitter, and Powers [a communications director in Oak Park, Illinois] said social media is effective at disseminating information before an event or as it’s happening. “What it has allowed us to do in a lot of ways is communicate the same message, but in a timelier fashion,” he said.

Read more about this trend in Pittman’s article.