When you talk about influence and capacity-building – two of
the primary aims of the Global Business School Network – a modest e-newsletter
can go a long way.
I work for the Chazen Institute of International Business at
Columbia Business School. We’re an academic center within the school that,
among other things, supports research with cross-border implications and makes
that research useful to businesspeople. I was hired 2 ½ years ago to revamp the
Chazen Web Journal, an e-newsletter produced by students that carried write-ups
of on-campus speakers and student study tours.
We relaunched the newsletter as Chazen Global Insights, and
made several important changes. We began treating the business school, and the
whole Columbia campus, as our "beat,” reporting on scholarly work and conferences
that might be of interest to our readers. (Example: a conference on sovereign
wealth funds with Al Gore as a keynote speaker.) Second, we redefined our
audience. Previously, the newsletter was sent to people who had attended our
programs, and to students and faculty. As part of the relaunch, we got a lot
more aggressive about adding to our list. A work-study student compiled e-mail
addresses of policy makers and researchers at think tanks and other universities
across the world; a sample newsletter along with a personal note from our
institute director went to each of these addresses. Very few of the recipients
opted out. And finally, we hired
seasoned journalists to write the articles, which made the newsletter read more
like a sophisticated news source.
Now, two years later, our metrics tell the story. We have a
list of 23,000 subscribers, and have maintained the same open and click-through
rates, which translates into a lot more people reading our articles.
But perhaps more importantly, the newsletter has become the
cornerstone of a coordinated communications strategy. We’re now customizing our
content to suit specific audiences. For example, at an upcoming on-campus China
business conference, I’ll assemble a special print edition containing our most
popular China-related stories to distribute to attendees. And, to maximize the
publicity value of a recent panel discussion we sponsored, I’m producing an
eight-page edited transcript in both hard copy and PDF. The transcript will
make a great handout for, for example, alumnae attending our upcoming reunion
E-newsletters are labor-intensive to produce, to be sure. But
they can be an effective way to make your influence felt.
I invite you to take a look at some our stories; they’re
archived at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/chazen/globalinsights. I hope this sparks some ideas.
A sample of the newsletter is available for download below.
Guest Blogger Betsy Wiesendanger is the Editor and
Communications Manager at The Chazen
Institute of International Business at Columbia
Business School, New York, NY.