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Improve internal news with the new Attini Feature: Shadow Copy

With the popularity and the usage of our internal news app Attini Comms expanding, we figured it was time to bring a new feature into the game for those organizations that have become lean, mean news machines. It is called Shadow Copy and it allows you to copy an article that you found in a random channel to your own channel. This way news can spread even faster.

Who is it for

This feature is very useful for organizations with over ten news channels and/or where the creation of news is a decentralized activity. It will help owners of a channel to easily bring in interesting articles from other channels and present them to their own audience. And the readers of those channels of course also benefit, for this will bring more news their way.

How it works.

Since the Shadow Copy feature is quite a big pack of functionalities, it helps if we explain the way it works based on a scenario. So, let’s first meet the stars of our story.

First up is Mark, the Attini administrator of Basically A Random Company Inc. (BARC Inc.) who makes sure that all the twenty channels that he administers are kept in tip top shape. Second is Nicole, the Director of the Sales Department and owner of the Sales news channel. Third we have Harold, an employee of BARC Inc.

Let’s say that in the IT channel of BARC Inc. a very interesting article has been published about how to safely connect to Wi-Fi networks at work. The tips and tricks mentioned in the article are very useful to all the colleagues working for the IT Department to setup secure connections. So, Mark has read the article and during a chat at the water cooler tells Nicole and Harold about it. Harold is a real news buff who has already read the article and encourages Nicole to check it out. Nicole knows that a lot of Sales colleagues are working from all different places, so she decides to look up the article in the IT channel.

When the three colleagues look at the article they all have a different set of options presented to them due to the new Shadow Copy feature:

In the top right corner of the article page, a menu is presented based on the permissions of the user looking at the page. Each channel for which you have permission to publish an article will be shown. That means that Mark sees all channels (because he is the Attini Admin), Nicole only sees the Sales Channel (because she has Contribute permissions only for that channel) and Harold doesn’t even see the menu since he owns no channels at all.

After reading the article, Nicole decides to copy it to the Sales Channel. During the copy a new article is created within the Sales Channel. However, this is no ordinary article. For one, Nicole cannot edit the content of the article. She wanted to copy the article and that is what she gets, an exact copy. But more important, a relationship is created between the original article (further known as the mother) and the copied article (further known as the child).

This relationship is used to update the child article as soon as a change is published in the mother article and to show where the child article originally came from. Showing were the article originally came from is important information. It leads Harold the news buff from the child article to the channel that possibly contains more articles about internet security. And it leads other channel-owners to the mother article from which they can also create a copy for their news channel. This is important because the feature does not allow copying a child article. To put it in family terms, we will allow creating sibling articles but aim to avoid a grandchild or even greatgrandchild article being created.

Now that the article is copied, Nicole has brought the tips and tricks about internet security to her audience. With an easy click of a button she has made the Sales colleagues happy. However, we did not forget about Harold our news buff. Because like a true news enthusiasts, Harold has subscribed himself to all the twenty channels that BARC Inc. has. Which means that he gets all the articles from the IT Channel (containing the mother article) and all articles from the Sales Channel (containing the child article). Of course, we filter out the duplicates from every feed so no one sees the same article twice. Mark, Nicole and Harold see the following items in their feeds.

Harold only sees one of the Internet Security articles, because the duplicates are filtered out of his feed. In this case the child is filtered out and the mother article is featured in his feed. As long as the reader is subscribed to the channel which holds the mother article, they will only see the mother article in their feed. If an article is copied to multiple channels, so multiple child articles exist, and a user is not subscribed to the channel holding the mother article, then the oldest child article that would be presented to this user would be visible.

So, if the Internet Security article would be copied to a third channel, Harold would still only see the mother article in his feed. In the event that Harold would unsubscribe himself from the IT channel, that holds the mother article, he would then only see the oldest child article in his feed, which is the one in the Sales channel, because Nicole copied the article first.

By filtering out the duplicates we can guarantee that the Shadow Copy feature can be used without limit, bringing news articles to new audiences and not polluting the feeds of people who already had access to the article. And by only showing the oldest article a user is subscribed to, we make sure that every user sees the article when it has the most news value for them.

Customers using the <link to sticky news>Sticky news feature</link to sticky news> feature need not fret as the deduplication feature of Shadow copy means that Harold will only see one of the sticky articles if the sticky article was the one copied by Nicole.

How to get started

Are you interested in adding the Shadow Copy feature to your Attini Comms installation? Than feel free to contact us by sending an email to attini@rapidcircle.com. We will be happy to run you through all the details and get you started!

Do you want to give your company news an additional boost in reaching all the colleagues, please make sure you check out the Sticky News feature we just released.

Improve internal news with the new Attini Feature: Sticky News

  All news is important, but some news is more important than other. And that is why we bring you Sticky News as a new feature inside the number one Office 365 News application.

Sticky News is a feature that is available as of this summer for Attini Comms. The new feature allows the creator of a news article to flag their article as being extra important which will make sure the news article remains at the top of the list in the news feeds. So instead of being pushed down by other articles with a more recent publishing date, the sticky news article will remain at the top of the news feed for the number of days that was specified by the writer of the article. To give it an extra touch of importance it is possible with a slight design change to highlight a sticky news article by displaying it in an offsetting color, depending on the type of Attini Reader web part you are using.

How To Use

As you have noticed, the technical and functional changes that are required to turn a news article into a sticky news article are not that major. However, the feature has proven to be a total game changer for organizations that are already used to Attini. The reason why is simple: having the ability to make your articles sticky, gives you a big advantage when spreading your news. And as our favorite spiderlike superhero so obviously stated “with great power comes great responsibility”.

The Sticky News functionality can be granted to each news channel that you have within your Attini Comms setup and this is done via the Attini Comms Dashboard. This means that only an Attini Administrator has the power to turn a news channel into a sticky news channel that can produce sticky news articles. Also, it is good to note that the power can be taken away as well by the Attini Administrator. So, the control over who gets the power and who doesn’t lies with the person administrating the whole Attini Comms landscape at the customer side, exactly in the place where you want to have this control.

Once the Attini Administrator has granted the Sticky News functionality to a channel, the owners of that channel have the power to create Sticky News articles. Per article they have the option to upgrade it to a Sticky News article or just publish it as a regular article. And since the difference is indicated by a simple flick of the switch, it is easy to make your news sticky. Even if you posted an article as a regular news story and the next day you decide to make it Sticky, you simply check the box and publish the article again to move it to the top of the feed.

Per channel you can have a maximum of three Sticky News articles. Let’s assume you post one sticky news article every day. If you would start on a Monday then Monday sticky article is on spot one and the rest of the spots are filled by other articles based on the priority model that you have chosen (most recent, most liked, most viewed, etc.). On Tuesday, your Tuesday sticky article will take spot one, the Monday sticky article will move to spot two and spot three and lower is taken by the rest. On Wednesday, your Wednesday sticky article will take spot one, the Tuesday sticky article will take spot two, the Monday sticky article will move to spot three and spot four and lower is taken by the rest. On Thursday, everything moves again when your Thursday sticky article is published, but now the Monday sticky article will not be considered sticky anymore and will get ranked amongst the rest according to the ranking model. Below, an overview is given of how the feed would look on each of the days.

Up to this point the story is plain and simple. You have one channel fitted with the sticky news and the owner of that channel can choose which stories to make sticky. However, most of our customers have multiple news channels, which in practice means anywhere from two to over fifty channels. And that is when the Sticky News scenario becomes interesting. Because the more news you have, the bigger the benefit is to have a way to make an article stand out. On the other hand, the more people who have the power to put their news at the top of the feed for days, the higher the risk will be for editors gaming the system.

To make sure you get the benefit from the Sticky News functionality and not turn the business of publishing news into a free for all fight about who can get their article at the top of the feed, some best practices need to be taken into consideration.

  • First, only channels with a wide audience should be candidates for the Sticky News upgrade. If a channel only has 50% or less of the company in the audience set, then the news published there is already targeted at such a specific group that probably every story is equally important for the reader.
  • Second, only channels with a high frequency of publishing articles need a functionality like Sticky News. If you only publish an article once a week, it will stay at the top of your feed anyhow, so no need for making it stick.
  • Third, make sure that if multiple people have the power to create Sticky News that they communicate with each other on a regular basis. If the power lies with a central communications team or colleagues near one another they have ample opportunities to discuss which stories should dominate the feeds the coming days. The situation that you want to avoid is two colleagues that never talk to each other battling it out over the news channels to get their news on top. The result of such a situation is seen in the comment section of every YouTube video and always turns ugly.
  • Fourth, be sure to monitor the use of the Sticky News functionality after it has been granted to a channel. If the functionality is not used properly (or not used at all) it is worth a conversation with the owners of that channel. And don’t be shy to take away the power again, because having not so interesting articles dominating the feeds may make the creator of that news very happy, but could make your readers frustrated.

How to get started

Are you interested in adding the Sticky News feature to your Attini Comms installation? Than feel free to contact us by sending an email to attini@rapidcircle.com. We will be happy to run you through all the details and get you started!

Do you want to give your company news an additional boost in reaching all the colleagues, please make sure you check out the Shadow copy feature we just released.