Mike Connell

The Big Question: The Best Email Newsletters

By: Mike Connell | June 15, 2018 | 
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Best Email NewslettersAs a slew of GDPR re-permission emails flooded my inbox last month, I had ample opportunity to reassess what newsletters I would stay subscribed to.

Those daily or weekly roundups that make it easier to keep abreast of what I need to read.

Or the ones I almost never click on but which, for some reason, I signed up for anyway.

During a lively Spin Sucks Community discussion, a community member called out how much they enjoyed Almost Timely, Christopher Penn’s (a Spin Sucks community and PR Dream Team member) email newsletter.

I’ve now been a proud subscriber for a couple of weeks and can unabashedly say it’s amazing.

That said, I also have to admit that I’m not too picky.

It isn’t hard to win a spot in my inbox.

And you?

What are the best email newsletters you love seeing in your inbox every day, week, or month?

What criteria do you consider before signing up? At what point do you unsubscribe? If at all?

Does it Have to be PR- or Marketing-related?

No. In fact, out of the gate, let’s make something clear. We purposely didn’t ask “What are the best PR and marketing email newsletters?”

This isn’t only about amazing PR or marketing content. It’s about what you make room for in your inbox.

Why? Because sometimes, to be good at what we do, we need other-than-PR-perspectives.

Anthony Baldini agrees:

I absolutely love an independent daily subscription email called Mister Spoils.

Their third-party recommendation format is simple: Curate three Instagram profiles of interest, a cool Soundcloud song, a long-form article, and a link to some type of clothing or gear that’s usually sponsored.

It strikes a tone with me because it’s dependable and almost always of good quality, and maintains an explorative tone.

The PR takeaway from Mister Spoils is that consistent, quality substance—even in small amounts—will usually result in the formation of a hardcore group of fans.

I’ve so much as gone out of my way to email the newsletter authors to let them know how much I enjoy waking up with their newsletter each morning.

That type of fandom is what every company should strive to own as an audience subset.

Tori Hebert feels the same way:

The Skimm is fun to read. The information you need in a conversational tone.

I like that it’s not all business all the time.

Girls Night In is a fun Friday treat. Recipes, cute dog photos, and funny gifs, product and book recommendations, thought-provoking articles.

The Best Email Newsletters: Hubspot

Okay, I know we just said that the best email newsletter(s) didn’t have to be PR- or marketing-focused, but that doesn’t mean respondents didn’t chime in with those as well.

And when you’re talking about consistent, value-add marketing content, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Hubspot made the grade.

This was, reportedly, an easy one for Teresa Walsh:

The email newsletter I knew I had to stay subscribed to was Hubspot.

As a marketer, this is a must. This daily newsletter is full of industry tips, software advice, case studies, etc.

I don’t always read every article they send me, but I skim read for the ones most relevant to me.

I never sign up to an email unless I believe it is going to bring me valuable information that I can’t get elsewhere and of course is there some perks!

I’ve signed up to Gap’s newsletter recently as I heard on the grapevine they give discounts regularly, and they do!

The Spin Sucks PR Dream Team Weighs In

We had some amazing responses from some of our very own PR Dream Team members.

Seán Stickle provided a list of what he calls his “Brilliant Newsletters,” along with their frequency:

Sidebar: Their tagline is “The five best design links everyday” and they deliver on that promise. I get it every day and I read it every day. Like clockwork. Daily

TrendWatching Innovation of the Day:. Fascinating to see the variety of innovations that crop up in different industries. Daily

What The F*ck Just Happened Today: Their tagline is “Today’s essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.” A daily unflinching look at national politics. Bracing. Daily

Benedict’s Newsletter: Venture capitalist who works at Andreesen Horowitz on the important and interesting developments in the tech startup world. Weekly

Stratfor Global Intelligence: Geopolitical analysis from one of the better private intelligence companies. Thrice weekly

Verne’s Insights: Advice and ideas on how to grow your company by the very interesting fellow who wrote The Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up. Weekly

I get maybe another dozen or so, but these are the ones I read most religiously.

And yes. You read that properly. Seán wrote, “thrice weekly.”

The Top 1,500 of the Best Email Newsletters

Before you run away in terror, no, we’re not really going to list THAT many “best email newsletters.”

That said, another PR Dream Team member, the aforementioned Christopher Penn, literally (yes, that is the proper use of literally) reads/scans top articles from almost 1,500 blogs on a regular basis.

In turn, he runs “Feedly and Pocket to manage the subscriptions, then I put all my flagged/starred items into a custom database that scans each URL for social shares and click-throughs, plus checks for topics I care about.”

Scary, right?

The resulting list might (will) look something like this:

Christopher Penn Email Newsletter

Source: Christopher Penn

“That tells me what to pay most attention to,” Penn explains.

Ultimately, his favorites include:

Avinash’s TMAI – analytics POV from an industry leader
Scott Monty’s Full Monty – roundup of general business news
KDnuggets – the latest from a high frequency blog
Data Science Central – a solid recap of the industry
Data is Plural – interesting data sets every week

Chris’ BrainTrust Insights co-founder (and Spin Sucks PR Dream Team member), Katie Robbert, noted that their very own newsletter, Data in the Headlights, is on her list.

Along with, of course, Spooky Bitches, “a weekly newsletter about ghosts, cults, doomed starlets, ax murderers, black cats, Winona Ryder, scary stories your best friend’s sister’s roommate told you, things that smell like Hot Topic and also shopping.”

It’s off brand, Katie explains, but it caters to her love of bad horror movies: #winonaforever.

The Best Email Newsletters: Yes, Please

Interestingly, this was one of the most interesting “Big Questions” I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting together.

Not only were respondents super-excited about their favorite/best email newsletters, but the exercise itself illustrated how a newsletter comprised of consistent, quality content, can be such a valuable asset to you and your brand.

Look at the examples we’ve just discussed. Some have been around for years. Others are newly on the scene. But they all add value.

Think about it: Many of these newsletters are curated lists. The person or brand in question may not have even written the material contained therein.

But the material—the list—is a marketing asset that adds value to their audience, contributing to their own thought leadership.

Pretty cool, right?

Up Next: The Big Marketing and PR Questions

Approximately thrice monthly (like that, Seán?), we publish the Big Question, curating answers to various queries deemed important to our audience.

As I perused our various Slack community channels looking for a spark to ignite the fire that would be the next Big Question, one thing became abundantly clear: people ask a lot of questions.

At the end of 2017, we compiled the very best of the Big Questions for that year, noting that “the best part of The Big Question is there are always newer, bigger questions to ask in our industry.”

And that’s a good thing! It’s why the Spin Sucks community exists.

It’s why Spin Sucks exists.

But as we crest the half-way mark of 2018, we thought we would reboot a bit, and have a little fun.

What constantly confounds PR and marketing professionals? Are there questions you still find yourself asking day-in and day-out?

What are the biggest questions you’re still asking about PR, marketing, your career?

These could be questions that define the next steps we take in our careers, a change in a business model, or a new way of defining value (whether personally or professionally).

Maybe you’re still asking yourself if you should start your own business, or become a consultant.

These don’t have to be truly “BIG” questions, rather they could be fundamental queries that change how we look at our industry and our role in it. Or not…

Maybe you’re simply asking “can Mike Connell really be that funny?”

Or, “just how tall is Gini Dietrich?”

What are the questions you’re still dying to ask?

If you had Gini in front of you, right now, what would you ask her (apart from the whole height issue)?

This exercise is designed to let us know what stones we’ve left unturned, providing us with fuel for further Big Question conflagrations.

You can answer here, in our free Spin Sucks Community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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