Community Discussion: Emailer Tools Over Sending Out PDFs

When it comes to mailing lists, there are a few different ways to approach the matter. Church communicators must decide what platform they will use to design the newsletter, and they must also decide how the newsletter will be distributed. Not all of our Facebook group members are in complete agreement about this topic, so let’s take a look at how this community discussion went down online.

The Question

One of our Facebook group members raised this question regarding newsletters and mailing lists. Samuel Gray asked,

PDF problem:

Our current church newsletter is prepared in Publisher, saved as a PDF, and emailed to our newsletter list. While a MailChimp type program may be in our future, the real question at this moment is what could cause the PDF to display differently on different phones? I have a family whose phones are changing the formatting so that the text is not very readable while other phones work properly.”

Responses

“I create ours in Publisher as well, save as a PDF, post the PDF on our website, attach the website link to a mail chimp email, and that seems to work for us….” – Julie Morgan

“So much double handling.
1. You create in Publisher
2. You upload to a website
3. You create a Mailchimp campaign
4. You add PDF (which you created) to Mailchimp campaign (e-newsletter builder)
5. You send it out.

Why not just
1. Create it in Mailchimp
2. Send it out.” – Tim Patterson, Southern Lights Church

“These days, the reader is entirely in control of how documents display on their phones. The issue may be that the folks who are having issues are using a third party reader that isn’t completely compatible with the “official” Acrobat Reader. Or, they have display settings that interfere (for instance, if they have visual assistance settings). Or, they’re reading it within their email client, which may not faithfully display the PDF. Or about a billion other things. The best way to diagnose is to have the persons bring their phone in, see what they’re doing, and help them find the application/settings/process to view online or download to their phone that works for their specific set up. I do this a couple of times a month. Takes about 5 minutes and makes people very happy to be able to read what I send out!” – Jan Hames, University Presbyterian Church

“What level do you save it at? I’ve found I need to save it at least at standard, rather than low, or the fonts become weird. I also use standard fonts, and if I use something fancy (for an event logo or something), I save it as a pic and replace.” – Debby Elliott Lovell

Conclusion

How you go about this issue is up to you. A lot of our church communicators use Microsoft Publisher to design their newsletters and then save them as PDF’s. This method has caused some mobile viewing problems for people in Samuel Gray’s church, but maybe it works for your congregation. Other communicators prefer Mailchimp, an easy to use online marketing website, where they can design newsletters and create mailing lists all from one streamlined platform. Whatever platform you use, find a strategy that is effective in keeping your congregation up to date with everything going on at your church.