Newsletters: Asset Mapping

Building a newsletter from what you already have.

Table of Contents

In an ideal world, we'd all have dedicated newsletter teams, with abundant time and energy to create newsletters. Most editorial teams do not live in an ideal world, and their newsletter work is just one job amongst many they need to deliver as part of their work.

Part of the skill of running newsletters effectively is building workflows that allow you to maintain that all-important regularity of delivery that then builds habit amongst the readers. We've already explored how structure helps facilitate that by giving you a defined amount of content you need to source. But that structure can be defined by the assets you already have available to you, base don the work you're already doing.

Clearly, your core asset needs will be defined by your newsletter structure: what's your anchor element at the end? What do you lead with? How visual is the newsletter going to be? But equally, the availability of assets might help inform those structural decisions in the first place.

Assets and needs

The key aim of this process is to look at what you have already, and match it against the needs of the key audience personas you've identified. In many ways, asset mapping is just an extension of the network mapping process:

  1. You identify the people that might be interested in the newsletter
  2. You identify their information or entertainment needs

That's the network mapping done.

  1. You identify what you already have or are already producing that meets those needs
  2. You identify what needs are still unmet, and work out how many of those you can reasonably meet via the newsletter with your existing resources

That's your asset mapping done.

Once that process is completer you can get on with the core design processes of prototyping the newsletter frequency, stricture, length and workflow. And then iteratively testing from there.

Core assets

Your core assets are pieces of journalism that you are already producing that can be easily brought into the newsletter, or linked to from it. Some examples include:

  • What news stories will you include - or link to?
  • Is analysis useful in the newsletter?
  • What features or other journalism can you include or link to?
  • Can you provide value by aggregating information from elsewhere? For example, some newsletters link to relevant stores from other publications. You're probably already reading those, so just capture them into the newsletter β€” and you're giving your readers one less reason to go elsewhere first.
  • Do you have any data or social media posts that you can integrate into the newsletter?

Other assets

Once you've gone through the obvious ones, then push yourselves harder. What other things do you already have that you could creatively bring into play. Some more examples for you:

  • Historic: old images or interesting archive stories can add variety to your newsletter. Journalists, given that we tend to be obsessed with the β€œnew” in β€œnews”, consistently under-estimate how much people enjoy and are interested in older material.
  • Visual: images or cartoons for their own sake work surprisingly well in newsletters.
  • Quizzes or polls: They give the reader the chance to engage with the newsletter directly, and incentives them to open the next issue to see the result. Many platform have this built it, but you can also use external tools like HandyPolls, among others.

Needed assets

Finally, cross-reference what you've done with your network mapping. What information needs remain unmet? Identify those, and map them. That's the additional work you'll need to do to make this newsletter work.

Asset mapping worksheet