How are you currently sharing information with your coworkers? How is your employee engagement? These are two important questions to ask yourself when getting started with SharePoint news. A strategy for SharePoint news can be built around your Intranet and portal plans.
SharePoint news is an out-of-the-box distribution service that gets important content to personal, team, and organizational audiences across SharePoint apps and experiences. SharePoint news is built on modern pages and web parts. It will allow you to tell stories with rich, dynamic content.
Why are these stories important?
Intranets and portals are not dead but are evolving. The ability to share content with your team or the enterprise is becoming more vital as remote work becomes more popular.
A study by Upwork highlights 63 percent of companies now have remote workers. The days of being in the office everyday and meeting around the water cooler or seeing internal digital signage for things like company events, the quarterly financials or even the anniversaries of long-standing employees are dwindling.
This type of information is vital for employee engagement. People want to feel part of their company but also don’t always have time to go to a specific spot everyday to ensure they are aware of things. “I don’t have time” is what we hear all the time when building communication solutions on Intranets and portals. Bringing these things together shows that engagement is best driven through existing context. SharePoint news can be used to bridge this gap to tell these stories in context to your teammates and employees.
SharePoint news distribution
One of the first things to know about news is where it all shows. This will help you understand the impact of a news post you make. News is displayed across experiences and apps, even Microsoft Teams.
News will only show up if you have access to it. All news will roll up to the SharePoint start page (formally SharePoint home prior to “home sites”) and the SharePoint mobile app. Those two places alone show the impact that SharePoint news can have for your enterprise.
You also can have more targeted places for news within your team and communication sites. To reach a broader audience than just single sites, hub sites can be used which can aggregate news for all sites within the hub. Hub sites can be a great way to utilize news and is the future of how sites are connected in SharePoint Online. Finally, you can bring news right into where you are working within Microsoft Teams using a connector or bringing the content in through tabs.
SharePoint news creation
SharePoint news is built on modern pages in SharePoint. Modern pages all live within the Site Pages library on a site. What makes a SharePoint news page special is the hidden PromotedState and FirstPublishedDate. All news has a PromotedState value that is not 0 compared to other SharePoint pages within Site Pages. Creating news is easiest using the Add+ -> News from either SharePoint start or the News web part.
Besides using the actions above you can also promote any modern SharePoint page as a news post on publishing. Once you click publish you can click “Post as News on this site”.
There are 2 different kinds of news that can be created. A news post and news link.
A news link provides you the ability to link to an external resource. Some examples could include news posts from the company’s external website, a link to a 3rd party white paper or video, or a link to a report in another BI system that is utilized. A news link is still a SharePoint page but has different metadata that is used such as a link field. It also has an important thumbnail field which you should always fill out as this is used in the displaying of the news link.
Displaying SharePoint news
SharePoint news will naturally appear within the start page and in the mobile app. The primary way to display news is through the modern SharePoint news web part. This is a web part that rolled out with news and continues to be enhanced with new features. This web part is built to show news across your SharePoint sites and pages where you want it to be seen.
Within the web part you can select the source of where you want the pull the news from. This can be from: This site, select sites, and Recommended for current user. If your site is a hub site, you will also see an option for that. When you select specific sites, you can manually enter them or check ones that SharePoint recognizes and frequent sites.
The layout options within the news web part include: Top story, Carousel, Side-by-side, List and Hub news. Each of these will have a different option for the look and feel for your site. Top story is the most common layout that I have seen but these options allow you to pick what works best for your business. It is always best to show each of these layout options to the team that will be owning news if it is for an organizational level. Getting input from the business for design decisions like this will improve engagement for owners. And news is only great if you have people to build great news.
You can filter news posts using metadata within the news web part. This allows you to truly customize the news experience. A great example of this is done by adding columns to your Site Pages library and using those within the page properties filter. A common property I see for news is “category.” You then could use specific category tags for different parts of a page or different web parts. You could also get more creative and use it for things like expiry or archive.
Even with the ability under filtering it may not meet the needs for organizing the news within the web part. Under the organize section you can build your own order and select what you want to show. This is a great option if something comes out that you want to always ensure it is on top and have other things still be underneath it or vice versa where you always want something on the end.
Other great tidbits for news
- You can take any news page you create and turn it into a Page Template to allow other to reuse it when they create new pages
- Add an organizational news location using PowerShell
- Enable audience targeting for your news
- Use the built in Microsoft Flow page approval to add logic to your news approvals
- Send an email with a collection of news articles you picked through a news digest
- Add a calculated column utilizing the Promoted State column to view which pages are news vs not in a site pages library
- If you really want to delete a news article you can unpublish it or fully delete the page
- Thumbnail images can come from an image in the page if you don’t have a header image
Helpful links for SharePoint news
- Create and share news on your SharePoint sites
- Use the news web part on a SharePoint page
- Create and send a news digest
- Add team site news in a Teams channel
- Expiring news across Modern SharePoint
- Tips for where to post news articles in SharePoint Online
Madelung, D. 92019). Getting started with SharePoint News. Available at: https://www.valointranet.com/blog/general/getting-started-with-sharepoint-news/ [Accessed: 31st October 2019].