A readership study of a national trade association newsletter
Salek, Edward Paul
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Newsletters are an old but increasingly popular communications medium. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 are currently in existence. Voluntary trade and business associations make extensive use of the newsletter as a means of conveying information to members. This study examines the readership of one such publication. Contact is published by the Associated Equipment Distributors, a national trade association of companies that sell construction equipment. Although the editors have assumed the newsletter is effective, no readership study has been conducted since it began publication 10 years ago. The purpose of this thesis is to test hypotheses that Contact is well-read and that the basic editorial policy should remain unchanged. Research methodology consists of a survey questionnaire mailed to a randomly selected sample of 351 AED members who receive Contact. One hundred sixty-one replies were received, a 461 return, which is valid. Data were computer tabulated, with chi square analysis applied where appropriate. The study confirms that Contact's basic editorial policy produces a well-read newsletter. Although the results can only be generalized to the population under study, the research design and questionnaire format could be applicable to studies of other sponsored publications. Similarly, the Contact editorial policy, outlined in detail in the paper, may be of interest to editors of other newsletters. The thesis concludes that there are implications for further study. This includes future replications of this study, studies of Contact readership by secondary audiences, and comparisons of the newsletter’s readership with that of other AED publications and the general media. These would serve to more completely define the editorial niche filled by Contact.