Back to Basics: A Little Newsletter Goes A Long Way

by: Colleen Dane, Director

When I’m asked at dinner parties what I do for a living, my long-winded answer often boils down to something like this: we get information to people about work that is (or will be) happening, and will affect them. Why? To help work go forward smoothly by getting people on the same page.

While it sounds simple, the question of how to get information to people is complicated. There are so many different avenues available to communicators and each one can reach a different combination of people. More and more we look to digital sources recognizing our mobile lives; websites HAVE to be mobile-friendly, events HAVE to exist on Facebook, surveys HAVE to be accessible by email.

The assessment of the tools in our toolbox is unique to every different project – and finding the right fit for your objective is a great feeling. It’s what makes me so proud of the Beat of the Hart – a good ‘old-fashioned’ paper newsletter that ZINC created for the project team working on the John Hart Generating Station project in Campbell River. We produced it monthly for two and a half years and in 2018, we won a Marcom Gold Award for it.

So, why in an increasingly digital world did we even consider a paper newsletter? Here was the challenge: on the John Hart project, we had hundreds of different people working on five or six different work areas. All working for different companies – all, obviously, getting information in different ways, and ALL critical ambassadors of the work to the community. We needed to keep them in the loop about the project progress, answer questions they might have (or might hear from their neighbours) and celebrate each other and their successes.

Voila: Beat of the Hart – an eye-catching newsletter with a consistent format: heavy photos, light text, focus on people and on ‘brags’ – visitors, awards and more. We produced 25+ issues, each highlighting a different person/role on the project, each showing photos from the different work zones and each giving bite-sized facts.

The result was a really popular lunchroom grab. Something people could pick up, read over a couple of their breaks and take home to share with their families. And it didn’t matter if they had a good data plan or were active on social media.

We love using and blending new and unique tools (ZINC is an alloy – remember?) – but in this case, it simply wasn’t what would work to reach our diverse team. Our toolbox assessment took us back to one of the basics, and it did work – well.

Because in the end, the point is getting information to the people who will be impacted so that – as I tell new friends – work can get done smoothly with everyone on the same page.

What do you ZINC about going back to basics? Send us a note at with your thoughts/ideas.