Highlighting Important News

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Ensure key announcements and news stay front & center long after they scroll out of view in the news feed web part

There are certain News articles that are important and need more visibility than a normal article.   They may be reminders for an important company event or deadline, and you want them front & center up to a certain date.  After the date passes, you no longer want to promote them.  

They’re regular news articles in every way, except they need to be highlighted for a while.

One common approach to accomplish this is to change their Promote state.  This basically de-publishes the article, essentially changing it back to the same state that a draft article would be in.  Unfortunately, this removes it from the consolidated news archive (on the SharePoint Home) which is a valuable historical reference of all news.  Removing it from the archive (as if it was never published), isn’t a good solution something you want users to consider the official archive of news.

An Easy-Peasy Solution

A better approach is to simply add 2 metadata columns for the Contributor to use only on items they wish to Highlight.  One field flags if they wish to highlight, the second is a date field for them to define the expiration date for the highlight.  Then use the Highlighted Content web part to filter these items and reveal them as “ads” anywhere on your Site or Hub.  I’ve titled my web part “Don’t Miss News.”

Step-By-Step

Minimum requirements for success:

  1. Create 2 columns as I have specified in the Specs below
  2. Go to the page you want to reveal these items on, and add a Highlighted Content web part to the page.
    • Configure it as I have in the screen capture below
  3. Enter some test data in the new fields & verify it is working properly.
    • At a minimum create 3 test news articles that are flagged “Highlight” and give one each the expiration dates of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.
  4. Teach your Contributors how to access page details and what the Highlight Indicator and Highlight Expires fields do.

Specs

2 Metadata Columns:

Web Part Configuration:

  1. Highlight Indicator
    • Multiple Choice column
    • Choices:  Highlight, Don’t Highlight
    • Default = Don’t Highlight
  2. Highlight Expires
    • Date column

Contributors manage Highlight details when they create news articles

Tips & Notes

Once you experience this highlight technique, you’ll likely find lots of ways to use it.  I use it to highlight important calendar events, documents, and even candid shots that are cool, that I want to highlight in the company candid photo library.  Here’s a couple extra tips so you can get more distance from it.

Site Columns for easy reuse of the columns

You can do this with 1-off columns, but I like to use this “Highlight” technique for lots of things throughout my SharePoint ecosystem, so I have created the columns as Site Columns on all my sites.  

Managed Metadata columns rather than Multiple Choice

Additionally, for the Highlight Indicator field, I prefer to use a simple term set to drive my choices rather than a Multiple Choice column.  I’ve named my term set “Featured Content”, and it simply contains the same terms as outlined in the field specs.
This gives me more options when using the new Metadata Properties features, and guarantees consistency across all sites in my ecosystem.    I just find I get more “bang for the buck” I can use it for additional functionality, or make a universal change to the field values.  If you’re comfortable with the Term Store, I suggest that you use this approach.

Revealing Highlight Status on the Page

Show the highlight status on the page, using the Page Properties web part.

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