Whether you are just getting started or you're an experienced Newsletter Chair looking to update your process, Creating a Chapter Newsletter in Six Steps is a road map to creating a newsletter that showcases the work of your chapter.

Note: Each chapter is required to publish and distribute one newsletter each quarter to all members—a minimum of four chapter newsletters each year and the newsletter must include any combination of at least four required items.

The six steps to creating an e-newsletter are:

1. Collect HFMA Chapter and National News  

2. Collect Local Healthcare Information

3. Collect National Healthcare News

4. Edit the News  

5. Lay Out the Newsletter

6. Send the Newsletter  

Step 1. Collect HFMA Chapter and National News

Chapter news that you might want to offer in your newsletter includes:

  • Names (along with titles and affiliations) of new members;
  • Names (along with titles and affiliations) of new certified members;
  • Names (along with titles and affiliations) of Founders Award recipients;
  • Other accomplishments of chapter members, such as promotions, publications, and awards;
  • Chapter Officers/Directors contact information;
  • Committee information-description of activities and current composition. Be sure to include information on how readers can get involved;
  • Overview of upcoming chapter events;
  • Summaries of recent chapter meetings/events;
  • Year-end chapter highlights or annual report; and
  • Strategic Plan summary.

Information about new members and new certified members is readily available from your chapter's membership chair and certification contact, who receive this information regularly from HFMA.

Check with your program chair for the latest educational calendar, or look on your chapter's website or on the Chapter Education Calendar on the HFMA website.

Information about members' accomplishments is always a popular feature in newsletters. These announcements need not be voluminous—just the basic who, what, when, where, and why.

You can collect this information by sending periodic email queries to chapter members and by soliciting such information at chapter meetings. Also, include reminders in your newsletter for members to contact you when they change jobs, get a promotion, complete an educational degree, or achieve other professional accomplishments.

Depending on the culture of your chapter, it may be appropriate to include personal milestones, too, such as births or marriages. If you choose to do this, only publish information that the member himself or herself sends you for the newsletter—or get permission to make the announcement.

Check with your chapter president for information about year-end highlights and your chapter's strategic plan. Committee chairs, of course, would be the appropriate source for committee information.

For HFMA national news, an up-to-date archive of national HFMA press releases is available online by going to the HFMA Press Center. Also, HFMA's publications department prepares ready-to-use stories for chapter newsletter that are posted on the Articles and Ads for Chapter Newsletters page. This page also includes evergreen national news stories, HFMA press releases, and news of the latest additions to the HFMA Resource Center.

Other sources of HFMA national news include the "HFMA News" column in hfm magazine and Notes from National

Step 2. Collect Local Healthcare Information

Websites and email distribution lists can provide you with plenty of press releases and other material you can readily plug into your newsletter. Here are some tips on how to find what's most useful for you:

Browse the Best Websites

There are a number of good resources to consider for obtaining local healthcare news. Identify specific websites, such as the state health agencies, that regularly post useful news and information. Links to Useful News Sources contains examples of sites you can bookmark, then browse when you're compiling information for your newsletter.

TIP: There's no standard name for the press room on a website. Some link labels include "news," "what's new," "media center," and "public relations," and "communications." If there isn't an obvious link on the home page, look for a link that says something along the lines of "About Us." Many companies put their pressroom there.

Sign up for Mailing Lists

Get on distribution lists for announcements and press releases. If the website doesn't have a sign-up form, send an email to the press relations person—or even to their main information address—and request to be added to their list. Provide your name, contact information, and the title of your publication.

Other Ideas

Subscribe to relevant email newsletters. They'll tip you off to news that you can follow up with on your own. (If you would like to use the actual newsletter article, always request permission before reproducing it. It is copyrighted material, even if the newsletter is available free to the public or if there is no visible copyright statement.)

Another great source of information is state health agency list serves—but again, always ask for permission before you quote someone! In addition to being a courtesy, it also can lead to additional information that wasn't included in the post.

Step 3. Collect National Healthcare News

There are a number of good resources to consider for obtaining national healthcare news that you can use in your chapter newsletter. Links to Useful News Sources contains examples of sites you can bookmark, then browse when you're compiling information for your newsletter. Be sure to select national news items with an eye to what is specifically relevant to your chapter and try to provide a regional perspective. E-mail can provide some quick and easy ways to do that:

  1. Send an inquiry to a local elected official, health department public affairs department, chapter leadership, or upcoming speakers and ask them to comment on what the story's implications are for the chapter.
  2. If you have a chapter or regional discussion list, you can ask the same question of the group-but always check with respondents to get their permission to be quoted.

You are welcome to use news from HFMA's website

Step 4. Edit the News

By now you should have ample material for your newsletter, and all you need to do is put it into the most effective format.

How Much News Should You Use?

We suggest you limit your e-newsletter to about six to ten items. More, and you may begin to lose your readers. (And you may find yourself spending more time on this project than you can afford!) Seek a balance between chapter news, regional healthcare news, and national news. We recommend that you give more weight to chapter and regional news, since your readers have other resources for national news.

I Hate to Write and I Hate to Edit. Help!

The good news is that each item in an e-newsletter is short—the best length for each item is one to two paragraphs, with each paragraph about three sentences. Even better news is that if you use HFMA's resources and press releases as your source, much of your work is done for you. Press releases usually are longer than you need, but in many cases, the key news is in the first paragraph, and then you can scan the release for supplemental information that can become your second paragraph.

Here are some ideas for writing/editing your news items:

  • Keep the sentences short and direct. Especially for an e-newsletter, readers want to be able to digest the news quickly. Try to keep the sentences as short as possible, and use straightforward sentence structure.
  • Focus on facts. For the most part, your readers want specific information about events of interest. No need to spend time on interpretation.
  • Remember: what, who, why, how, when, and where. Generally, you want to lead with what—a new bill was passed, your chapter meeting is next week, a member won an award. The remainder of the story should offer simple answers to the most relevant questions.
  • Refer readers to sources of more information. For many stories, your newsletter will only give readers the tip of the iceberg. Don't try to explain, for example, an entire plan for overhauling your state's Medicaid program. Let readers know one or two key points, and provide a link to a web page that has more information (which is probably the place you found the story).

Step 5. Lay Out the Newsletter

By now, you should have a six to ten short, factual stories that cover chapter, local, and national news, plus a few announcements. The next step is to create the newsletter itself. The following sections provide some guidance on how to do that. For additional insights, review the sample chapter newsletter attached to these guidelines.

Typeface and size

It is still acceptable to send an e-mail newsletter in plain text format, although HTML newsletters (the ones that look like web pages when you open them) are becoming increasingly common.

In a plain text email, your formatting options are limited to lower case and capital letters and the symbols that you see on your keyboard. You will not be able to use any formatting such as bold, underline, or automated bullets.

This creates a basic document that can be read by any email program. The recipient's preferences will determine the font, size, and color of the text that appears when he or she opens the newsletter.


Your newsletter's name and the chapter name (if not included in your newsletter's name) should be at the top. You might also want to include a tagline (for example, "The information source for Tennessee's healthcare finance professionals").

Next you should include a line with the date. You might also want to have an issue number. You can number your newsletters consecutively, or you can have a volume number for each year, followed by an issue number that starts over at one with each new year. (For example, if you have six issues per year, the last issue of your first year would be volume 1, number 6.)

Table of Contents

Next, simply list the titles of your stories in the order they will appear. The list should be numbered. The sequence of stories is up to you; generally, the stories of the broadest interest or the most significant effect are first.


Now, paste in each story in the order identified in your table of contents. Choose a consistent way to distinguish between the title and the body of the story, and make sure the spacing is equal between each story.

Announcements can be grouped under a descriptive headline and treated as bulleted items. To create plain text bullets, chose a symbol (often a dash or asterisk) and tap the space bar once or twice. Use these bullets consistently throughout your newsletters.


Finally, close each newsletter with whatever credit and contact information you would like to include. This information should include at a minimum the newsletter editor's name, email address, and phone number. It may also include the chapter president's name and contact information. You should also explicitly state that this newsletter is a publication of your chapter, along with the word "copyright" followed by the year.

If your chapter selects another format for the newsletter, please note that you can find your chapter's logo on the HFMA website.

Step 6. Send the Newsletter

Now, you are ready to send the newsletter. The easiest way to do that (unless you have a large membership) is to just copy and paste the newsletter into the body of an email message. It is wise to send yourself and another member of the chapter newsletter committee a test message before sending the issue out to the membership. Ask this committee member or co-chair to do two things:

  1. Proofread the whole newsletter, from masthead all the way through to the copyright notice. This will reveal any lingering typos in the text, as well as any funky glitches that might arise as a result of being emailed.
  2. Click on each and every link in the newsletter to ensure it works.

After making any final adjustments, copy and paste the message and send to the chapter members using the email group you use for normal email correspondence to members. The latest member data is available 24/7 from the Roster Center in the Chapter Leaders area of HFMA's website. Faxing or mailing copies to those without email will ensure that all chapter members receive a copy of your newsletter.

IMPORTANT: When sending a broadcast email, you must remember to insert the email addresses into the BCC field, rather than the TO field. Using the BCC field respects the privacy of the recipients by concealing the email addresses.

Publication Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013