The primary differences between a club bulletin and a newsletter are their content and their target readers. And if one of your club's objectives is to reach potential new members, you're hardly likely to find them inside your own club.
Here's how we define "Bulletin" and "Newsletter". The former is internal, to keep members informed. The latter is external, intended to reach non-members, supporters, sponsors, your local community, event attendees, news media and so on.
To distinguish between the two means of communication, use different mastheads / graphics, so as to have greater appeal to the target readership.
Are club bulletins actually read? When we analyse reader statistics of bulletins, it's usually disappointingly low because members get to know what's happening in their own club simply by attending or through their friends who are also members.
Usually it's absentee members who are motivated to read it.
|Aimed at Rotarians.||Aimed at non-rotarians (that Rotarians receive anyway).|
|The editor can think like a Rotarian||The editor must think like a journalist|
|Published weekly.||Published monthly.|
|Readers limited to members, committed friends and fellow Rotarians in District.||Readers unlimited.|
|Number of recipients usually capped at 25 - 100.||Number of readers uncapped - potentially thousands.|
|Offers little or no value to sponsors and advertisers||Potential for strong income generation through wider exposure for sponsors. Must not become an advertising platform, however.|
|Readers interested in club matters specifically, Rotary matters in general.||Readers interested in local news, interesting stories, invitations to events - anything except Rotary.|
|Contains Rotary messages, written by Rotarians for consumption by Rotarians.||Contains news stories, community news, information about projects and events.|
|Engages with Rotarians.||Engages with non-Rotarians, such as supporters, event attendees, sponsors, donors, potential members.|
|Self-contained messages.||Messages designed to drive readers to your website for more / associated information.|
|No need to be fancy - it's intended to keep members informed.||Benefits from quality presentation.|
|Distributed by email.||Distributed by email.|
|Rarely leads to membership enquiries.||Potentially leads to membership enquiries.|
|Contains "in jokes", such as sergeants' fines, that are only comprehensible to members.||Avoids "Rotary speak" that non-members may find weird or off-putting.|
|Contains Rotary acronyms that even many Rotarians don't understand.||Rarely talks about Rotary at all, other than club achievements and human interest stories.|
|Of no value in attracting new members.||Valuable tool to reach potential new members.|
We often hear the argument "Our members are all too old to even have an email address." or "We've always had a printed bulletin, so we can't possibly change that."
Here we compare electronic and printed media, whether as a bulletin or newsletter.
|Expensive to produce, especially if it's full colour.||No cost to produce, and always full colour.|
|Expensive to distribute.||Free to distribute.|
|Can demand specialist skills and knowledge of software, depending on the complexity of the document's layout.||Requires very little specialist skills other than an eye for a good story.|
|A cost to the club.||Potentially an income generator for the club.|
|Rarely passed on to third parties.||Frequently passed on to third parties, particularly via social media.|
|Difficult to maintain good quality unless money is spent.||Easy to maintain quality.|
|Emphasis is frequently on the physical appearance of the communication.||Emphasis is on the content because the layout has no need to be fixed.|
|Inconvenient to retain, other than by enthusiasts.||Easy to retain and archive.|
|Cannot be read on digital devices (phones, tablets, laptops, PCs).||Can be read anywhere at any time on any device.|
|Impossible to track readership and response.||Easy to measure readership, response, reader interests.|