Content worth getting in your inbox

My desktop email client is Microsoft Outlook for Windows. In spite of the frustrations in many aspects of using it, I like it overall (it does much more than email). I’ve been using it for the best part of a decade in its many versions.

One feature I especially like is the junk mail filter. I have it configured at its default settings and I rarely disagree with emails the filter says are junk or spam or otherwise not worthy of any attention. Nowhere is this more appropriate than with email newsletters where the filter decides which ones to zap so I never even see those.

Email life is good!

I have five criteria for deciding whether to read an email newsletter, either ones I’ve signed up for (opted-in to receive) or those that come unsolicited out of the blue (which happens far too often) yet some can be worth your attention:

  1. Is the content relevant to my interests? (Even a cursory glance at my blog will give you a good idea of what those interests are.)
  2. Is the content concise, well written and well presented, and does it stimulate my curiosity?
  3. Are the links in the email clear URLs and do they take me directly to the content with no fuss when I click them?
  4. Can I easily find information about who the writers are and – a bonus – some indicator of their social visibility, eg, links to a Twitter handle or Facebook presence?
  5. Is it clear and easy to see how to unsubscribe or change my preferences in receiving the newsletters?

So let me tell you about one email newsletter I read that does meet my criteria and, in my opinion, most definitely is worth your attention. The publisher employs a neat trick, too – offering content that never gets noticed by Outlook’s junk mail filter, so I always get the newsletters. That trick is a rare talent judging from the stuff that Outlook does trap.

PR Daily Europe

This daily email newsletter from Ragan Communications in Chicago is at the top of my list – a must-read with my early-morning tea or coffee. PR Daily Europe gives me news snips linked to content online that I can read in more detail if I want to.

Nothing new there – that’s what email newsletters tend to do. Yet PR Daily Europe gives it all to me in a way that makes it stand out from many other such communications. No pseudo-personal greetings or editorializing, just relevant facts that align with my interests presented in bite-size form so it’s easy to read and absorb quickly. No pushy sales pitches either. Trust level is therefore high.

A key aspect that makes PR Daily Europe a compelling read is that each email has a link to the editorial staff so you can see who’s behind all the items that come each day. It’s a team of mostly voluntary contributors in Europe led by managing editor Michael Sebastian in Chicago. (I’m on that list but not actively contributing.)

If you haven’t read PR Daily Europe, give it a try and see what you think. And if you want to contribute content, you can.

What email newsletters that meet the criteria I mentioned earlier would you recommend?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Ivan Walsh

    Hi

    I think this works with you have decent editorial skills… ie training :)

    But most bloggers (who send out newsletters) do a poor job as their trying to prematurely squeeze you into their sales funnel, without seeing where the newsletter fits into the readers scheme of things.

    Fwiw Box.net do a very nice job in this respect.

    Ivan

    • neville

      Thanks Ivan.You hit the nail on the head when you said bloggers are “trying to prematurely squeeze you into their sales funnel, without seeing where the newsletter fits into the readers scheme of things.”

      That’s precisely what it seems like to me with nearly all newsletters that come my way from companies. I’d be ok with that if those companies were honest about what they’re doing.

      What really stands out, though, is the approach taken by people like Ragan with the example I cited in my post. More like that are most welcome!

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