Inspirational articles were once limited to self-help and religious publications, but they are just about everywhere now. (Think about those wildly popular Chicken Soup books or most of the stories in Reader's Digest, for example.) Inspirational articles can be very useful in newsletters, because they make a human connection between the newsletter publisher and the reader.
Well-written inspirational articles move people emotionally and motivate them to do something or to make a change of some sort. Nonprofit organizations can use these articles to motivate readers to volunteer, write letters of support, or make a donation. Businesses can use inspirational articles to create a positive public image, build brand loyalty, and encourage repeat business.
Good inspirational articles have five characteristics.
1. They are personal.
Inspirational articles are all about the power of personal connections. They should include very personal stories about real people's lives. Don't shy away from the emotion, as strong and powerful feelings are central to good inspirational articles. You aren't speaking to your readers' minds with these articles; you are speaking to their hearts and souls.
2. They involve an emotional struggle or challenging decision.
Clearly describe the struggles, obstacles, or difficult choices that the people in your article have faced. How did they recognize the problem, deal with it, and overcome it?
3. They paint a scene.
Help your readers visualize what the people in your story went through. Describe the physical locations where the events took place. But don't stop there. Appeal to your readers? senses of smell, sound, taste, and touch.
4. They include a universal message.
Inspirational articles usually end with an epiphany. They enlighten us or remind us about the essential nature or meaning of some element of our daily lives. These are often very simple lessons -- the importance of family and friends, the joy in giving, the danger in stereotypes, or the value in facing our fears, for example.
5. They are true.
Your inspirational articles must always be true. It is OK to change the names or locations; just state that you have done so. Making up stories to play on your readers' emotions is unacceptable. If you are caught telling lies, you will destroy any trust your readers had in you and your organization.
What would make a good inspirational article for your organization? Think about the stories from work that you tell your friends and family. Consider interviewing a person whose life or work has changed dramatically as a result of your organization. The moments that inspire you to do the work you do will likely inspire your newsletter readers too.
? 2005, Kivi Leroux Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Kivi Leroux Miller is president of Writing911.com, which provides free writing advice, tip sheets, e-courses, and in-person workshops for people who need to write well at work. She specializes in providing guidance to nonprofit organizations on newsletters, annual reports, and other publications. Visit http://www.Writing911.com to sign up for "Writing Tips," a free monthly e-newsletter that will help you improve your writing and your publications.