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Newfangled newsletters.

Once upon a time, in fact fairly recently, newsletter editors had options no more technologically complicated than typewriter or typesetter, halftones or line art only, the Xerox machine or a printing press.

But the newsletter publisher is as much in the marketing business (getting the newsletter in the hands of the right people and getting it read) as in the communication business (getting the right material written to meet message objectives). Creative publishers have technology on their side.

Just a few examples follow.

What may seem like an approval nightmare to you actually works for Wayne Senville. But then again, he's an attorney. Senville is editor of Planning Commissioners Journal, a newsletter about basic planning and land use issues.

Rough drafts of articles are uploaded to the Municipal Planning section of the Legal Forum on CompuServe, where forum members are encouraged to read, comment upon, and question what the authors have composed. In effect, experts are giving input, including how they have dealt with topics raised in the articles - all leading to a better publication, according to Senville.

Apple Computer Inc. offers its resellers an attractive and well-written newsletter to distribute to their customers. This sales tool arrives quarterly in the resellers' mail on disk, called, appropriately, Customer Newsletter on Disk.

It is a PageMaker-format newsletter designed to be customized. Resellers can add their own flag to the top (the unedited nameplate reads "Your Banner Here") or delete some articles and replace them with their own news, then output, print, and distribute. Another option is to copy specific articles from the Customer Newsletzer onto a disk and insert them in their own newsletter.

One caveat: While the 10-page newsletter can be customized and articles can be dropped, the articles that are used are not to be altered in any way.

This distribution method works because all parties involved presumably have access to the same software. If you can't make that assumption, consider Farallon Computing's DiskPaper multimedia publishing software. You distribute the disk with a newsletter created in any application you want, then recipients can open it on compatible hardware even if they don't have the software used to create the document.

Would you like to offer a newsletter on the computer screen that provided the latest information whenever the document was opened, updating its contents automatically? That option is covered in the electronic newsletter FutureWatch by Editor Robert W. Golobish. His publication, by the way, is received by downloading text to your own computer.

He points out that in large companies particularly, mainframe computers link various facilities with a wealth of informa| tion. However, he writes, "most computer-stored information lacks multiple connections for finding out more about what it is on the screen or branching off into new directions." Using hypertext programs such as HyperCard, information can be pleasingly displayed on the screen while allowing a user to jump easily from subject to subject, or go deeper and deeper for more details.

In fact, top management at GTE uses HyperCard to keep up with the company's many business units. A GTE executive can pick a figure from a table and with a click of the mouse get the backup data for it. The program runs on a microcomputer the mainframe solution was too costly.

That kind of instant information awaits progressive communicators. Beneath the surface of the electronic page of an active document are programs attached to various parts of the page. Highlight a word in an article to get more explanation on the subject, for example. "These programs can do anything that users can do by hand with publishing software - such as creating graphics, cutting and pasting contents, creating indexes, etc. ," reports Golobish. But unlike traditional desktop publishing, there's much more than meets the eye at least at first glance.

Sheri Rosen, ABC, owns ConsultRosen Enterprises, 1468 Nelson St., Mandeville, LA 70448. The firm specializes in corporate publications and computer applications for public relations.
COPYRIGHT 1992 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Computer Sense; sophisticated newsletter publishing
Author:Rosen, Sheri
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Column
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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