Newsletter Issue Builder

The Arts & Sciences web team has developed a tool that helps departments build a newsletter “issue” on their Department Web Framework sites.  How does it work?

Step 1 - Plan your content strategy

Will you create content specifically for the newsletter, or share stories that are created throughout the quarter? Do you plan to advertise any upcoming events or fundraising campaigns? Decide what you'd like to include, and gather or write the necessary content. If you need assistance with this step, please request a consultation with the marketing team. You should also contact the marketing team at least 8 weeks in advance of your desired send date if they will be sending the newsletter on your behalf through Marketo (see Step 4 below).

Step 2 - Add feature articles

Add articles you want to include as individual News stories.  You can add them all at once or periodically throughout the quarter.

  • Log in to your site and go to Add content > News
  • Create a News post as you normally would, adding a separate post for each story/article/topic.
  • Check the "Exclude from front page news list" box if you don't want the story to appear on the front page (this option will only be available on sites where the front page news is automatically pulled from the most recent stories).

Step 3 - Build the newsletter issue

Add the Newsletter to your site.  Select which stories to include in the issue, and rearrange the order. If there is content that doesn't make sense as a standalone News article, you can add it in the introduction, sidebar, or conclusion.  After saving, the issue will arrange everything on a single page, with links to the issue's contents in the sidebar.

  • Log in to your site and go to Add content > Newsletter
  • Provide a title for the issue
  • Optional - provide an introduction (text or links to appear at the top)
  • Select stories to include
  • Optional - provide text or links to appear in the sidebar
  • Optional - provide a closing (text or links to appear at the bottom)

Step 4 - Distribute the newsletter

Use the Newsletter issue page as the basis for an email in the distribution tool of your choosing (we recommend Marketo, the UW's digital automation platform). If you are working with a marketing communications or digital stewardship specialist, send them the link to your issue when it is ready. Also promote the issue via social media, and add a link to it on your website's newsletter page (some sites may add the link automatically).


Newsletter Builder FAQ

Q: Can we include other types of content besides News?

A: You can mention or link to other content in the intro/sidebar/conclusion, if you don’t want to create a separate News story.  We may be able to enable other content types on a case-by-case basis.  It would require that the content be written in a format suitable for excerpting into a newsletter.

Q: Can we customize the content, so it is different from the original News post?

To keep the tool simple and easy to use, you must select from pre-existing stories and let it generate the teaser image and text.  If you need to change the content for an issue, you have several options: update the original article so it reads better; add a new article with retrospective focus; or add the story or links in the intro, conclusion, or sidebar, so they only appear in that issue. 

If you can’t find a way to make these options work, then the Newsletter builder may not be the best solution for your department.  For complete control over the issue contents, you can create a Page, where you have freedom to write and format the newsletter however you like.  This is how newsletters were handled on older sites.  The Newsletter builder is designed to simplify this process by avoiding the need to manually build the newsletter issue/landing page.

Q: What if we want to add a story for the Newsletter, but we don't want it on the front page?

A: No problem.  When we add the Newsletter tool, we also add an "Exclude from front page" option to your News stories.  So they can be used in newsletters and appear in the news archive, but don't need to appear on front page if they're not top priority. (This option won't appear on sites that don't have automatically generated lists of news on the front page.)

Q: How can we build our email list?

A: This is a great question and one that deserves further discussion and strategy.  Ideas mentioned at DWF user meetings include requiring graduating students to give you an email address where they can be contacted as part of their graduation RSVP and requesting lists of alumni, donors, students, or staff from Advance / ReportWriter.  Include an email sign-up opportunity where ever you can: on flyers, invites, email signatures, web content, social media channels... we're sure there's many more ways.

Q: We have plenty of ideas.  How can we get help writing content?

Our hope is that when your department joins the Department Web Framework, the site becomes easier to manage and your staff can refocus time previously spent battling technology into updating content.  More people will also be able contribute to the site because we can customize permissions and roles.  Each department must work out their own approach for distributing responsibility for content.  If you need additional assistance generating content, consider the following:

  • Hire help – student workers, freelancers, or communications/marketing staff.  Check with other departments to see if they work with any freelance writers who may be looking for more work.
  • Re-use content posted on your website.  Sending it out via email will attract fresh eyes who didn't see it before.
  • Consult with a marketing communications specialist (see Marketing & Communications Team) about strategies for creating content or finding writers.