red box post letter
Credit: By Charlotte Gilhooly on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The Times and Sunday Times are tapping into a "revival" in the popularity of email newsletters with the launch of a new daily politics briefing in collaboration with polling firm YouGov.

Launching on August 18, Red Box will include pieces written by Times journalists and columnists, a round-up of political news and a look ahead to the day's political agenda – as well as YouGov data and poll results.

It will be sent on weekdays to coincide with the morning commute to work – with a sixth edition on Sundays.

It's good to see people trying to reinvent (email) or to improve what's already been done. This is our effort.Joseph Stashko
"Email newsletters are an interesting medium," Joseph Stashko, digital development editor at The Times and Sunday Times, told Journalism.co.uk. "They've seen something of a revival in the last year or so.

"We figured it would be an interesting space to get into, particularly with the Scottish referendum coming up and next year's general election. It's a great time to start.

"It's interesting because for the last four or five years a lot of people have been focusing on social. It's good to see people trying to reinvent [email] or to improve what's already been done. This is our effort."

The mailout is free and does not require a Times subscription.

Stashko said: "It's going to be a self-contained product in and of itself. You don't have to have been associated with any Times products beforehand. We're really excited about that because it's a chance to get in touch with potentially a whole different type of readership.

"The idea is that this is a product that will stand on its own. It's very much something that's unique. We've really thought about the medium and what needs to go into it to be successful. It's not something that we're just using as a promotional tool for our existing articles."

Journalists will be encouraged to take a more conversational tone and bring their personalities into what they write.

"It's a one-to-one thing," Stashko said. "That more informal, email-to-you style is really important.

"We'll probably change along the way – there's lots of room for experimentation with the structure in the system that we've built. We very much want to see how users respond. It's not like what we release on August 18th is the be-all and end-all."

He added: "We don't want it to follow a rigid structure every day. We've built a custom framework so we can deviate on some days. It's really easy for journalists to use.

"It's not like a print template where you have to fill all the space, it's up to you how long or short the newsletter is. We'll do some experiments into what the ideal length and time reading are. We want journalists to feel flexible when putting things together rather than feel tied down."

A sign-up page is ready ahead of launch and the service has its own Twitter account @timesredbox where readers will be encouraged to discuss topics from the day's email.

Journalism.co.uk recently published a podcast and a feature on email newsletters, best practice, and their relevance in the age of social media.

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