GUI Bytes

Electronic Distribution of Newsletters, part 3

Dick Eustis, webmeister for the Maine Chapter, explains one way to coordinate on-line and hardcopy newsletters

part 1

part 2

part 3

 

Dick Eustis, webmeister for the Maine Chapter, may have found the perfect solution for coordinating hardcopy and electronic newsletters. Each month Dick sends an e-mail notice to all members, telling them that the on-line newsletter has been updated. The newsletter is in HTML format, so neither downloading nor pdf files are required - just visit the site! Members have been given the option of receiving hardcopy, but only a few have elected to do so. I'll let Dick tell you more…

I use Microsoft FrontPage 2000 for our web site to eliminate the need to do any "coding". Our newsletter editor does the hardcopy newsletter in Microsoft Word. We ask for material in Word format or in a format that can be converted to Word. If that is impossible we ask for hardcopy and scan the material into Word using OCR software. Normally, the editor sends me the text by e-mail.

I created a standard format for the "electronic" newsletter so all I have to do each month is update the first page heading, delete the old material under each article heading, and insert the new material. Thus the "Table of Contents" does not have to be rebuilt each month. All I have to do is add or delete "Table of Contents" headings. Any item in the hardcopy newsletter that appears elsewhere on the web site is not included in the "electronic version" of the newsletter.

A few days before publication, the editor and I coordinate our work and I begin updating the electronic version. When we are ready to publish, I upload the material to our web server. Occasionally I upload the electronic version first and the editor downloads it from the web site for use in the hard copy version.

I convert images to jpeg format and use Microsoft Image Composer to manipulate and compress the files prior to uploading to the web site. Compression substantially reduces file size without changing the on-screen appearance, which helps managing download time. Once an ad has been positioned on the web site, it doesn't have to be touched until it is revised or it is not renewed.

It takes me a little less than three hours to get the electronic version ready, posted, and tested. This does not include other time to update the on-line Chapter Directory, post meeting notices, or set up seminar brochures and registration forms.

We notify members when the newsletter is ready by e-mail, reaching about 90% of our 100 members. We use a distribution list entered into the "blind copy" field on the e-mail address header, so each person receives only the message, not a long list of addressees.

We always include the web site URL in the reminder so that anyone opening the e-mail only needs to "click" on the web address to reach the Chapter web site. Each page on the web site has a table of contents, so the user only needs to "click" on an item to see what they want. We use a single column format on the electronic version for ease in reading.

Because we have a "web publication" rather that a reproduction of hard copy, we can post new information to the newsletter at any time. New items are usually carried over to the following month to be sure all members have had a chance to view them, unless we passed the date where the information is of value. If a real critical issue is added after regular posting, we send an announcement of the "critical issue" by an electronic postcard to keep our members informed of changes as they occur.

Dick Eustis, eustis@infi.net 

Visit the Maine web site at http://www.mecsi.org/

Next month: What to know before you set up a webconference! Based on a true story!

© 2002 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, swolfe@bwbr.com 
on the web at www.CSI-MSP.org 
January 2002


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