Let’s say you publish a monthly newsletter to keep employees or customers informed about your business. Your submission deadline is the first of each month, but whenever it approaches, you realize you’ve got almost nothing for the upcoming issue. So, you email contributors a reminder to shake some articles loose.
And then you listen to the crickets.
That’s deadline creep. It’s crazy, but many newsletter contributors think the word deadline means the date they’re supposed to start thinking about possibly submitting. When you should be finalizing your content, it’s just beginning to trickle in.
It’s a problem because it’s like dominos. Once one newsletter’s schedule goes into the weeds, future issues are affected. You may have to push back submission deadlines or publication.
If the creep becomes extreme, skipping an issue may be the only way to get back on track.
Another mistake often made is assigning newsletter production to an employee with other full-time duties unrelated to publications. This makes the newsletter an oddball chore to be tackled “whenever.”
Every time you miss deadlines, it sends a subtle message that they don’t matter. How well (or long) would your company survive if employees and customers flouted all due dates?
Every newsletter published late, erratically, or not at all hurts your company’s credibility. If you don’t deem the content important enough to publish on time, readers won’t value it.
Fortunately, eliminating deadline creep is straightforward.
First, determine your newsletter’s appropriate frequency. This should be as often as you can reasonably manage while keeping the content fresh.
A quarterly newsletter is two-thirds less work than monthly (4 issues vs. 12), but if the content grows whiskers before anyone sees it, the publication is self-defeating.
Next, create a simple editorial calendar with submission deadline and publication dates. When figuring the editing and layout time you need, don’t be too generous. Newsletters go stale when the production phase drags on.
Now, publish your calendar.
A week or two before each deadline, send a reminder to contributors. If material straggles in after that, reject it or bump it to the next issue until they learn to respect your deadlines.
Once you begin publishing regularly and on schedule, your content’s value automatically increases. Once readers see your newsletter as a viable place to showcase their news, they become more willing contributors.
Killing deadline creep is a win-win because your contributors and production staff now know when to work it into their schedules, and readers begin to anticipate your regular communication with them.