Writing the office newsletter

With our London office growing and more and more people working on client site, it becomes harder for everyone to communicate and stay up-to-date with what's going on in the office.

My colleague Enrique had made an attempt to create a weekly newsletter at the beginning of the year which he named “London Calling". I thought it was such a great idea! Reading weekly news about what's happening in our office was really valuable.

So I decided to revive it with him in May. I kept saying to him that I was London Calling’s biggest fan, so obviously I had to continue it. Besides I thought that it would be fun to find and compile all the big and small news stories that our offices has to offer.

As a child I would often play “newspaper”. I pretended to be a reporter, interviewed people and created a newspaper. So now I can play this game again. Except that I can find out even more exciting news than that dad mowed the lawn last weekend and grandma baked a strawberry cake.

The process

Enrique and I set up a Mailchimp account to send out the newsletter each Thursday morning. The newsletter has been going for a while now and we’ve got our process down. It looks like this:

Straight after we have sent out the newsletter for the week, we create a new template for the following week. We have some standing sections each week:

  • client team updates
  • new business updates
  • links to the blog posts we publish each week
  • our Friday afternoon schedule (always very busy with talks, workshops and guests)
  • a photo of a cake if we have one for "Cake Thursday"

In addition to those I've been adding updates about the work that our Diversity, Culture and Inclusion committee does and about what our internal development cohorts are up to. I am sending out a feedback survey with this week’s newsletter, so hopefully I’ll get some more insights into which sections are popular and which ones we can skip.

During the week, whenever I think of a topic for the newsletter, I make a note in the template. I usually come in earlier in the mornings so on a Tuesday morning I'll start writing some of the sections. I usually message three or four of our client teams on Wednesday mornings to get their updates and write a short paragraph for each. Some reply straight away (thank you!) and some reply throughout the day (also thank you!). Luckily everyone is forthcoming with the information, so that makes it easy.

Enrique will populate the new business section as he is involved in talking to new clients.

I also try to find out if we have any guests on Friday and will write a one sentence introduction for each guest. I just think it's easier to connect with our visitors if we at least know what they do and how many cat pictures they tweet each week.

Enrique usually proof-reads the text on a Thursday morning although I've just recruited Dan, another colleague, to help me with that, too. Around 9 am we press the button to send the newsletter and high-five with the Mailchimp monkey. Yes, once the newsletter is sent out, there's a little animated graphic of the Mailchimp mascot giving us a high five. It's so cute. The next step is to create a new template for the following week and start from the top!

A Mailchimp hickup

As I said before, Mailchimp works really well. We only had a bit of a hick up with them once, where they locked our account because their bot detected a violation of their terms and conditions. Except that they never told us what exactly it was that we did that violated the Ts & Cs. We emailed them straight away to ask what we had done wrong but didn’t hear back from them for weeks. During that time we just sent the newsletter out through Gmail. They finally replied after Enrique had had enough and wrote them a strongly worded email. They ask us a load of questions like what we were selling (nothing) or did our customers agree to receive those emails (errr… no customers involved). So once that was all cleared up, they unlocked our account again. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again! We’re still not sure what exactly it was that the bot detected in our emails, so we’ll just carry on as before.

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