SharePoint tips and resources for your COVID-19 communication site

Here's some helpful tips and reliable resources for your SharePoint crisis management site to support your organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 coronavirus [morphology/visualization]
Viktor Forgacs

It’s amazing how the tech community has come together to create resources for people now working from home and staying connected during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft has published a helpful how-to guide to build a crisis management communication site and created a way for SharePoint admins to easily provision the site design in your own tenant from the lookbook.

I’ve created multiple COVID-19 sites for clients in the past two weeks using this template as a starting point. In the course of making these sites and working with some amazing people, I have also gathered some helpful and reliable resources for the pages in these sites. Here’s what I’ve learned and some content you can re-use.

Create a COVID-19-specific site

One of my clients already had a “general” Crisis Management site. We learned pretty quickly that adding the COVID-19 specific content to that site makes it difficult to both manage and maintain – especially across a global organization. We have come to realize that it is better to create a topic-specific site for this crisis.

We know there will be other crises and in the spirit of keeping our site architecture flat and allowing users to follow sites for topics that are most relevant to them – and having a reusable template to deploy the next time a occurs – we have learned (a little painfully in one case), that we need a unique site.

One cool thing we are doing is rolling in COVID-19 specific news from local sites in major locations. We can’t use the News web part to do this, but we can use Highlighted Content web part with a query that looks for Pages on a specific site with (COVID* or corona*) AND Promoted State =2. This query will retrieve news pages where the page content includes COVID or any variation as well as corona. If your page source is a specific site, you can narrow the query to just a specific location or you can search across your entire intranet for any related news content.

Make the site an Organization News site

If you have a crisis-specific site, making it an organization news site allows you to easily “brand” the news about the specific crisis as authoritative. Learn how to create an organization news site.

Reliable external resources for the home page

Pointing people to reliable sources of information is important all the time, but is especially so during a crisis. Here are the links that my clients have added to their sites in a Quick Links web part with a list view and including descriptions:

Twitter feeds for your Twitter web parts:

  • @CDCgov
  • @WHO

Starter news posts

Here are some suggested News links for some initial site content. You may need to add a local image for some of these links:

Content for pages

Each organization I work with has a different culture and “personality,” but all of their COVID-19 content is a combination of both facts, policies, and “human” content. Here are some pages and suggested resources for the pages that have been very helpful in these organizations. Before you use them, it’s a good idea to check to see that the links are still valid – and that the content has not been updated.

I hope these resources can save you some time and help you and your colleagues stay safe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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