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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”.
  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.
  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.
  5. Open Microsoft Word, and for your template, select Blog Post.  Click Create.
  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.
  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:
  9. Click Publish.
  10. You’ll receive a SharePoint alert email that looks just like your “newsletter”!
  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.
  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.
  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!).

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