Internal Company Newsletter Using SharePoint

This is a very simple trick, and it can be done with any version of SharePoint such as 2007, 2010, or Office 365.

I see a lot of companies send out newsletters to their employees, and sometimes they actually pay for services such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, in order to send out those newsletters.  In this post, I’ll show you a way that you can do this in SharePoint, if you want to save some money and not use those other services.  Also, this offers something that those services don’t offer… a place to go look to reference older newsletters from the past.

The solution?  Create a SharePoint blog site and create alerts on the “Posts” list.  That’s it.  Here’s the step-by-step on how to do that.

  1. In SharePoint (or SharePoint Online), create a blog site.  (use the “Blog” site template)
    Whatever you name your site, that will be the “From” name that will show when these newsletters arrive in people’s inboxes.  So for mine, I’m calling the site “Team Newsletter”.
    244-image_thumb_572DD91D.png
  2. Click the little Site Settings gear at the top right, to go to Site Contents.
  3. Go to the list called Posts.  In the ribbon, in the List tab, choose Alert Me, and Set alert on this list.
    244-image_2c9a7d30-8232-47cd-86f5-f278a87eb04a_572DD91D.png
  4. Change the Alert Title to New Newsletter.
    In the Send Alerts To, I put Everyone, so that it will go to everyone in the company.  This part is up to you.  Who is the group of people who need to receive this newsletter?  You can put that SharePoint group here, or put an email-enabled AD group, or just a bunch of individuals here.
    Important!  When you set up this alert, everyone in that group will immediately receive an email letting them know that they have had an alert set up for them.
    Change Type – New Items are Added
    Leave the rest of the options as default, and click OK.
    If you’re just testing this at first, just put your own name in the box to send alerts to.
    244-image_22368eb1-be40-40c6-80be-cc3da96d464d_572DD91D.png
  5. Open Microsoft Word, and for your template, select Blog Post.  Click Create.
    244-image_thumb_1_572DD91D.png
  6. In Word, in the Blog Post tab in the ribbon, click NEW, and add the URL to your blog site if it isn’t already there.  You can see that I have two different ones in mine now.
    244-image_3b4c66bf-56a5-48d2-a501-5de09d2bedb8_572DD91D.png
  7. Give your newsletter a title where it says “Enter Post Title Here”.  You can also give your post a category with the Insert Category button.
    Here are a lot more resources on the topic of blogging from MS Word.
  8. To make this look and feel like a newsletter, I use the insert tab to insert a table with two columns.  Then it’s just all about adding your content that you’d normally put in your own newsletter.  As a shortcut, I’m creating a new file in Word, and using some example newsletter, so that I can copy over some of the images and example text over into my blog post table that I already inserted.  Now it looks like this after some colors and pictures are added:
    244-image_11_572DD91D.png
  9. Click Publish.
  10. You’ll receive a SharePoint alert email that looks just like your “newsletter”!
    244-SNAGHTML2590e5a2_1_572DD91D.png
  11. Another thing to pay attention to is permissions.  For all of the people who will receive this newsletter, you may want to also give them permissions to your blog site, at least read permissions, so that if they click any of the links in the email, they won’t get access denied errors.  You will definitely need to give them at least read access to the library called “Photos” on your blog site.  This is where the images from your posts automatically get stored.
    You can tell that there is some work that could be done around using the right fonts and some formatting, but the cool part is that the images come across too, and all of the tables and colors come across in the email just like they were set up.
    Here’s another one that I did, that turned out really nice looking in the alert email:
  12. What about all that nice information that you get with newsletter products, about the number of clicks and stuff?  You can kind of do that with this also, with built in reporting.  At the site collection level, go to site settings, and site collection features.  Enable the feature called Reporting.
    244-image_d290117a-4d51-4934-b9a4-71d8fae37bea_572DD91D.png
  13. Once you have reporting enabled, all of your libraries will have a button in the library tab of the ribbon, called Most Popular Items.  In your blog site, go to Site Contents, go to the library called Photos, and click Most Popular Items.
    244-image_8ad2b32f-95d4-48d4-ae6f-ce006b14a53b_572DD91D.png
  14. For the alert emails that go out, this is how you can track whether people have opened them.  In the email client, when the photos are shown in the email, the users are actually authenticating to SharePoint to see those photos.  This will count as views to the items.  Go to your Photos library on your blog site, and click Most Popular Items.  This will show you the number of people who have viewed those pictures (via the newsletter!).
Advertisements

12 comments

  • Richard Pyra @richpyra

    Awesome post and great way to professional communicate information to an organization. I’m going to recommend this approach to my customer as well. I’m wondering if there is a way for email receivers to “unsubscribe” to the newsletter?

    Like

  • Thanks Richard,
    Yes, you would unsubscribe to it the same way you’d unsubscribe to an alert. Each email will contain a link for the user to modify their alert settings. If you use an email-enabled Active Directory group, they will NOT be able to do this, though.

    Like

  • I have been using this feature for a while now and now can use this post to help sell the idea. Thanks!

    Like

  • Hi Laura,

    You have mentioned in this post that we can send alerts on SharePoint groups but this option is not working for me. “Send Alerts To” box is not able to resolve SharePoint groups. Have you ever created alerts using SharePoint group?

    Thanks,
    Tushar

    Like

  • So much easier than a super-complicated solution I had to deal with most of last year.

    Like

  • Images won’t appear in email alerts unless you have anonymous access enabled on Office 365. 😦 Our Outlook client blocks them.

    So close to being good.

    Like

  • Hi Tushar,
    It looks like you’re right. This used to work in previous versions of SharePoint, but I guess they removed it.

    Ronnie,
    Our Outlook client blocks all images, no matter what webpage they come from. Each end user would have to mark that sender as safe in order to see them.

    Like

  • Seems like there’s an an ardent admirer of your work. Likes it enough to edit & repost it on LinkedIn as his own.
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/internal-company-newsletter-using-sharepoint-subhi-almouslem

    Like

  • Hi Laura,
    We noticed that if we try to publish the MS Word Newsletter template as is (the one that matches your screenshots above) SharePoint can’t handle the column formatting. I found an older article about blogging in SP 2007 and it states that column formatting won’t be retained unless it is copied as one object and then published, thus rendering the content uneditable once posted. Looking very hard at your first screenshot, it looks like you pasted the content as one object as well. I tried this and was only able to get one page of the Newsletter template to copy which conflicts with your second screenshot of several pages of the Newsletter template. Our Newsletters are several pages long. Can you comment on the need to copy / paste special as one object and what limitations this has? Here is the other/older article: http://info.akgroup.com/blog-0/bid/71509/How-to-Publish-a-SharePoint-Blog-from-an-existing-Word-2007-Document
    Thank you!

    Like

  • It is so sad that images do not show up in outlook. We are using Outlook 2016 and Office 365

    Like

  • Saving it to PDF works for Outlook 2016.

    Like

Leave a reply or question

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s