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Company newsletters, both online and print versions, gain polish

Internal newsletters give companies an arena to highlight company and employee accomplishments and build morale.

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Employees enjoy reading about their colleagues, but newsletters are usually one of the first things to go when budgets are tight.

"We are taxpayer supported, so we really have to watch our pennies," says Cynthia Sax, editor of "City Savvy," one of the city of Houston's employee newsletters. "It's a difficult process to keep employees informed when we have to cut something, but we don't want the employees to miss out on anything."

The cost of producing a newsletter can be significant, especially for large companies that may distribute thousands of copies. If a newsletter is published four times a year, it could cost a large company $125,000 to $150,000 for a full-color, 30-page issue, says Martin Jordan, owner of Alpha & Omega Design, a local graphic design firm.

High-tech communications

With the increasing presence of the Internet, many companies have switched from printed newsletters to online versions or initiated production for the first time.

Early on, when the subject of a printed newsletter was brought up, employees at CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate firm, would get fired up about having one, but no one stepped forward to take on the task of producing it, says Danny Barrett, marketing manager for CBRE in Houston.

Because the company has more than 14,000 employees, the company decided an easier approach would be to use an intranet site with each office around the world having its own home page, he says.

"We have a lot of brokers who produce their owner newsletters," he says.

He notes, however, that a large company finds it difficult to try to maintain a company-wide publication if it is not the job of a specific individual or department.

Other entities, such as the city of Houston, continue with printed versions but also put them on their Web sites for those who have access to a computer.

"The city needed a way to communicate with its employees," Sax says. "Everyone was working as a separate entity instead of one city team."

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2003 American City Business Journals Inc.

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