The e-mail newsletter revived!

July 28th, 2015

Paul Keers of White Light Media shares his blog on an e-mail newsletter by Lena Dunham.

We’ve grown used to celebrities promoting themselves digitally as lifestyle commentators, like Gwyneth Paltrow with her website, goop. So it wasn’t particularly surprising to hear that Lena Dunham, the author/screenwriter/actor/producer/director, is teaming up with her Executive Producer on Girls, Jenni Konner, to produce a digital communication. But Lenny is not a website, or a blog, or a social media platform – Dunham is to deliver “Contemporary feminism for the inbox”, in the shape of an e-mail newsletter.

As Buzzfeed pointed out, when they interviewed Dunham for the launch, “newsletters are themselves throwbacks to a pre-digital time, when media transmitted in one direction — from producer to consumer — with little in the way of interactivity or feedback.”

Throwback it may be, but e-mail is still regarded as “the digital marketing workhorse” – and one 2014 study reported that it remains the single most effective digital program for reaching marketing goals.

An e-mail newsletter predicates, of course, an e-mail database – direct audience contact which web sites can struggle to acquire. An e-mail newsletter has control over its content; it’s not easily “curated” into other sites. It can be delivered to its audience simultaneously, and exactly when its publisher chooses.

And by evading interaction, it also avoids the negative side of that feedback – the misogyny and abuse that women like Dunham seem to attract whenever they comment using social media.

Instead, a sense of “community” is created not through interaction, but through a group of subscribed people reading the same thing at the same time. And perhaps there is something to be achieved, particularly in terms of engagement, through that “escape” from the bounce and ricochet of social media.

Or as Dunham herself said, “to remember that the internet has the power to take you into quiet places — something we don’t usually use it for.”

Suddenly, the whole idea, whether for a personality or for a brand, seems rather interesting. No expectation of a comments section. No limits on character count. No need for SEO or clickbait to dictate headlines and content. A committed, subscribed audience. And presumably a design which can accommodate different lengths of writing, different types of visuals and different formats of features within a single publication. All delivered directly to a customer.

Rather like a newsletter, in fact…

Paul Keers is London Bureau Chief at White Light Media
  Share: Posted in CMA Blog