Memo and Newsletter Piece

PROJECT #3: Memo and Newsletter Piece
Orientation

Various institutions, companies, and agencies sponsor newsletters (internal or external) to
transmit information to particular constituencies. Although certain individuals may be primarily
or solely responsible for the creation, organization, and publication of a company or agency
newsletter, there may be opportunities for participation by other members of the professional
entity in question (firm, agency, institute, association).
Some newsletters are largely promotional, focusing on achievements, e.g., sales, promotions,
within the organization. Some incorporate opportunities for more personalized items by
including profiles, notice of birthdays, and the like. Others, more expansively, may go beyond
typical newsletter highlights to create a publication more akin to a newspaper, usually with a
corporation or agency slant and addressing interests, possibly including recreational ones, with a
particular readership (internal and/or external) in mind.
This assignment permits you to complete a piece of work within such generous parameters—a
newsletter piece for the imagined newsletter of a real or imagined company or agency. It means
that the article itself can be a fiction while presented as if real; e.g., a new product unveiled in-
house, a company picnic, a restaurant review with corporate clients in mind.
Because such work for a company newsletter might be accompanied, behind the scenes, by one or
more memos discussing aspects of the journalistic task performed, the opportunity for including
an additional piece of writing in memo format (as distinct from the news item) also presents
itself.

Assignment

As indicated by the foregoing, the assignment consists of two parts:

(1) A news item;
(2) A cover memo acknowledging and identifying the attached news
item, and describing how the news item came to be written.
The second component (the memo) combines material discussed in class regarding the
composition of memoranda, while the first component provides the opportunity to contribute an
imagined newsletter piece or a real article for voluntary publication in an actual campus
newspaper.
Although the memo will most likely need to be composed after work on the news item is
completed, it will be considered first in the more detailed discussion below.

The Memo

As a cover memo (or memo of transmittal), this document is meant to acknowledge and identify
the news item accompanying it. That is, it should refer to the article and indicate what kind of

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article it is; e.g., news item, feature story, editorial, personnel profile, activities feature, and the
like.
Ordinarily, such a memo should be addressed to the company’s or agency’s newsletter editor.
The newsletter editor’s name (the “To” line) can be as fictional as the newsletter and the article
written for it.
Just to be clear:
 Your TO: line will look like this. John Doe [pick a name], Editor, The General Motors
Newsletter [or whatever you are going to call this real or fictitious newsletter].
 Your FROM: line will feature your name [as an employee of the company—not an
owner].
 Your DATE: line will use the date when this project is due.
 Your RE: line will include the word “article” and can be as simple as Article Submission.
 You will not be using a CC: line for this memo, because you are not sending the memo to
anyone else, but only to the newsletter editor. However, skip two spaces below the last
line of your last paragraph to provide an Enclosure line.
 Keep in mind that you are submitting an article for publication in a company newsletter,
to be selected, if at all, by the newsletter editor to whom you are writing. That is, you are
not submitting a newsletter, which would make no sense, nor do you have any responsi-
bility for the newsletter as a whole. Nor is it your job, as part of the assignment to create
a whole company newsletter, but just the one single article for it.
 Remember, too, that the memo content itself has no salutation. That is covered by the
TO: line. In the memo content itself, you are still just writing to one person, the editor.
 Remember that a memo has no signature block. That is covered by the FROM: line.
 Do not be quick to assume that your article will be selected. The following material is
what you should write about in your memo—identifying the type of article, its subject,
your credentials for writing it and your preparation in doing so, and your justification of
why it should be published.
 Even if they are short, your memo should have at least three single-spaced paragraphs,
double-spaced between.
To repeat, aside from acknowledging and identifying the news item, the memo should describe
what you did to obtain the information needed to write the article. For many kinds of articles,
that often means interviewing one or more persons to obtain factual information or to corroborate
facts already gained from other sources. If the piece is an editorial, you need to discuss what you
observed on campus or in your fictional company that induced you to write about a particular
concern and the approach that you took in addressing it. If you engaged in a particular activity
needed to write the article, discuss your preparation, i.e., what you did to enable you to undertake

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the work in question. In short, your cover memo anticipates queries that an editor might make to
clarify what you wrote and how you came to write it.
Your memo should use one of the acceptable formats for this type of document, as discussed in
class. Use at the top of the memo a logo or letterhead that identifies the fictitious company or
agency for the newsletter version. You may initial your name on the memo (by your printed
name).

The News Item

What kinds of articles are there? A news item may take one of several forms, all of which will be
considered in the paragraphs that follow.
A news article
A feature story
An editorial
Personnel profile or bio
Activities/events feature
Meeting or events schedule
A review of programs or policies
Community news
Recreational pieces

News Article
This is a factual piece of writing on a particular newsworthy topic, and should employ the
inverted pyramid order, with consideration of who, what, when, where, why, and how as queries
that such an article ought to address.
Feature Story
This type of article is generally somewhat more informal than a straight news piece, although it
usually requires some factual information and interviews with one or more persons. It may have
a more arresting introduction, with the gradual addition of who, what, when, and the like,
depending on what the piece requires. One could also write a feature story about what it is like to
be part of a particular event or activity. This type of piece may include, incidentally, something
of the writer’s personality by way of personal impressions.
Editorial
Editorials generally pay tribute to something done well within the community or call into
question something that could be improved, or deal in some way with a personal preference or
consideration that can be generalized to the rest of the community. This type of piece requires no
interviewing at all, but is simply based on individual introspection regarding a perceived problem,
highlighted concern, personal preference or interest, or tribute for something well done.
Personnel Profile or Bio

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This type of piece focuses positively on a particular individual (one or several belonging to a
recognized group). The usual occasions for such writing are new hires, promotions, or recent
accomplishments. It may be more or less formal, depending on the approach, but the occasion for
the writing should appear early (again, new hire, promotion, etc.). If the piece also includes a
fairly extensive consideration of the person’s background before his or her current employment,
the item may take the form of a bio.
Activities/Events Feature
This news item focuses on one or more activities taking place within the corporation, agency, or
workplace. If the activity or event has not yet occurred, details about it are given with a desire to
encourage a good turnout. If the activity or event has taken place, the article retrospectively
celebrates the events by reviewing the highlights.
Meeting or Events Schedule
This piece provides an introduction to the meetings or planned events that a particular group
within the organization has planned, followed by the dates and times themselves.
A Review of Programs or Policies
This article presents information about new programs or policies with respect to a particular
entity within an organization or the organization itself.
Community News
If an organization publishes a community news item in its newsletter, the assumption is that it
will be of interest to its readers, in addition to providing a source of good public relations with
those who are implicated in the news item, and most likely its source.
Recreational Pieces
This type of writing considers a leisurely activity, as a change of pace from the kinds of pieces
normally appearing in newsletters. (Many newsletters, unless they are more like newspapers,
may not include such topics.) These items, if used at all, may take several forms, oftentimes
focusing on reviews; e.g., public dining, theatre, film.
Procedure

Select the type of article you wish to write, which will also be the basis for your accompanying
memo. Then determine what your actual topic for the type of article chosen will be.
Regarding formatting of the news article:
Provide a centered headline right beneath the top margin. Then skip two spaces and center your
byline [By Janet Hill]. Then skip three spaces and begin typing your article. Unlike most
assignments for this course, double-space within paragraphs as well as between paragraphs.

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