3 Ways to Combat the 30-3-30 Rule

Recently I presented the workshop “Creating Newsletters People Actually Read” at the Church & Change Conference in Milwaukee. Apparently, this topic interests many because the turnout was great and we had interesting discussions.

One point I made is the “30-3-30 Rule.” This theory says there are three kinds of readers: 30-second readers, 3-minute readers and 30-minute readers. Unfortunately, 30-second readers make up 80 percent of the average newsletter audience.

Certainly this percentage necessitates greater efforts in good design and concise writing. But inventive editors have come up with other ideas, as well. I researched and found a few.

Write Creative Headlines

Advertising authority David Oglivy knew the importance of a good headline. In his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, he offers four proven headline types; the How To, the Question, the Top 10 Reasons, and the Testimonial.

Challenge Readers

When I was a kid, I would scour issues of Highlights Magazine, searching for the hidden images. Some newsletters create the same challenge by “hiding” a member’s name (or other identifying information) in the text of the newsletter. The first member to spot it and call the office, wins a prize. What a fun way to hook young and old readers alike.

Feature New Members

People are naturally interested in other people. Particularly new people. Introduce new members in your newsletter, together with a nice snapshot. It immediately gets newcomers involved in the newsletter and also is a great way for members to get to know them.

Pass Along Ideas

What’s proven successful for your church newsletter? Please share!

1 thought on “3 Ways to Combat the 30-3-30 Rule”

  1. Church newsletters can be the hardest things ever to produce. It’s really hard keeping members interested. I like your point about our natural interest in people. That’s so true. And congregations are a group of a big variety of people so why not talk about them?

    We often are overly concerned about “praising people too much and not praising God.” What we forget is that God made the people in our congregation and he blesses our congregation with them. Why not sing these praises?

    So why not do a newsletter story about the student who’s doing interesting volunteer work abroad? Or the family that’s been in membership for six generations? One of my congregations favorite topics is a “remember when” story. What was Christmas like in 1942? What’s the history of the Ladies Aid program and what are its traditional foods?

    Church newsletters don’t have to be just about attendance and tithes. Make ’em interesting!


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