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A Glimpse into the SBA Newsletter

Posted on June 17, 2022
200th issue

The first issue of the Swing Blue Greater Boston Newsletter was June 11 2018. 


The purpose of the newsletter has always been to make it easy for volunteers to find ways to turn swing states blue. The earliest issues included a list of all available activist events in our region. By 2020, that had become impossible. Our mailing list has grown from 82 to over 15,000, and the number of activist events continues to grow as threats to our democracy become more and more apparent.

So now, each week we focus on the actions and trainings that we think are the most timely and strategic. For other events, we can point to our online calendar, which did not even exist when the first issue went out!

The first newsletters were created by Susan Labandibar, with some volunteer help. In March 2019, Wendy Postlethwaite became the editor, and in April 2022 Peggy Speas began sharing the task as co-editor.

What does it take to put out a single issue?

Every week the editor (Peggy or Wendy) collects the topics, edits the articles, and solicits/incorporates comments from the contributors. She finds or creates images, lays out the copy in Action Network, and then posts the newsletter on the SBA website, archive, and News-MAGIC. Finally, she researches possible subjects for the following week.

The newsletter contributes to SBA’s focus on activism driven by data on effective methods by carefully tracking which articles and actions generate the most interest. Each week, the editor records the statistics of how many clicks each article receives.

Kudos also go to the tech gurus who manage the engines - the mailing lists and other tools - and the team leads and other volunteers who provide ideas and copy required to power the process.

A growing sophistication

From issue 1 to issue 200, the newsletter has gone through a number of redesigns, all aimed at making it easier for volunteers to find events. Its current professional look-and-feel exists thanks to designer Jamie French, who volunteered her expertise to the cause. She is also the source for many of the images that appear in the SBA newsletter and  website.

Back to the goal

“Every time I write an article I think, Will this encourage a volunteer to step up? Does it provide enough info? and How can I make it shorter?” says Wendy. “If an article prompts even one activist to sign up, that means contact with voters who can get Dems into office.”