Category Archives: Board Pages

How to post to GCC lists

How to Post GCC Emails

I’ve moved our mailing lists from our old MailPress system into MailChimp. The old system was nice because it automatically sent emails of whatever was posted to groups associated with the post’s WordPress category (land use, transportation, etc.)  But that system stopped working, was always a little inscrutable, and made it impossible to post without emailing or vise versa. It was totally unsupported and undocumented so I lost patience with it.

MailChimp is a free service if you send less than 2000 emails each month. It allows us to set up groups and predefined “segments”. I’ve copied over all of the MailPress groups (GCC, land use, transportation, safety/health, outreach, and library park), and added another 75 names or so that were collected at the car show and celebrate North Seattle events.  We now have about 380 on our list.  I’ve added the committee chairs to the MailChimp account so you can send emails to your committees.  Rick and Chris, let me know if you want to be added as well.

Part 1: Sending an email to a group

Log into MailChimp. You should have gotten an email about how to log in.  When you log in each time they will send you a code via SMS to complete the login. You’ll start out at the “dashboard.”  Choose “Campaigns” from the menu. Campaigns is MailChimp’s way to describe sending an email.

On the campaign screen, in the top left of the screen, pull down the “create campaign” menu and choose “regular campaign.”

First you’ll be asked what group you want to email to.  In the example below, I’ve set MailChimp to send a new message to the Land Use list. You need to choose “send to a group or new segment”, pull down the “subscribers match” menu to select “all, pulled down the next menu to choose “What mailings do you want to receive?”, and then choose the group to send to.  There are 52 members on the land use list as I write this.

Then you’ll need to name the campaign (just so you can remember later) and insert the email subject line.

I should have said this earlier, but at each step you advance to the next step when complete by clicking on the word Next in the bottom right corner.

Finally, you need to select the GCC email template, which simply adds the new GCC banner at the top.  Click on “Saved Templates…
Then click on GCC email.

Now you’re ready to compose your message.  The screen is split in half, with a preview of the email to the left and a place to compose your message to the right. Initially you will see a variety of different formatting tools in the compose window. The preview window has sections you can select, one of which includes the title and content (shown below when the mouse hovers over it). If you click on that section, the compose window will show editing tools and a text input window. You can add formatting, photos and links using the formatting tools.

When you’re all done and satisfied with your email, click Next. (Save and Close will allow go back to the screen that lets you edit different elements of the email or add new ones.)  On the next page you should see a lot of green check marks (and probably a yellow caution) that says everything checks out.  Now you just need to send the message.

The next email will describe how to send a second, slightly altered email with the same content that posts to the website, and how to fine tune the post on the website once its there.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have questions.  I will also post this information in the Board Pages on the website in case you need to look it up later.

— Rob

10/25/15 Board Retreat – Minutes

Thanks everybody who attended today. The raw meeting notes are below. I copied the most important takeaway, a draft calendar of topics for our monthly meetings between now and June 2016, at the top. Also, note that we decided to cancel this week’s board meeting, as today’s retreat covered everything we would have otherwise covered on Tuesday.

Continue reading 10/25/15 Board Retreat – Minutes

How to Post a Meeting

I am still working on  improving this process – it seems clunky and I think there is an easier way.  This tells you how to create a post about a committee meeting and send it to your committee.  Then it tells you how to put the same information (this is the clunky part) into an event listing that will show up on the calendar.  I’d like to sit down with each committee chair and walk through how it works the first time you try it.

Adding information about an upcoming meeting or event

Events are a special kind of post that show up in the right sidebar on the site.  Repeating meetings are already in the calendar and the upcoming 6 meetings are shown in the sidebar.  If there’s no information yet entered, it will list the committee only without any information about the meeting topic or location.
Here’s what the events listing looked like as I typed this (several weeks ago now):
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 6.27.22 PM
The Safety and Health and Land Use committee meetings don’t have information entered yet.  You just need to click on the green hyperlink to open one of them, then there are fields to fill in. Information from the recurring meeting is entered already.  When you open up an event by clicking on the hyperlink you’ll see a map and location, date and time, and text about the meeting.  If you click on EDIT (example below) you can then enter or change the event information.  
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 6.35.10 PM
Here is what you see.  A form opens up that holds all the event information.  The part at the top is for entering the event title (which is the topic, in this case “The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle”), the date and time, and text describing the meeting.  This is a classic WordPress text editing tool, and you can see that it allows you to format the text and do other things.  I try not to use too much formatting – in part because it doesn’t always work correctly and is hard to fine tune.
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 6.45.48 PM
Put the event title in the box at the top – this will be the green hyperlink on the events list on the home page.
In the top left, enter the date and time – but use the drop-down lists that are presented when you click on each of the date and time fields; that ensures that the dates are entered in a way that the events manager module understands. If it’s a recurring meeting you only need to change this if it’s different than already shown.
Then enter information about the event.  The formatting options are similar to those in Microsoft Word.
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 6.54.37 PM
  • Bold, italic and underline are at left
  • Quotation style and bulleted/numbered lists are after (don’t always work)
  • Left, centered, right justified (also don’t always work)
  • To add links, select the text you want the link to be attached to, click the link button, and enter the url.
Next, scroll down to choose the event category in the right sidebar – this is the committee it pertains to (again, if this is a recurring meeting you don’t need to do this.)  For the candidate forum I chose “special event”.  If you scroll back up to the illustration of what’s on the main page you’ll see how this is used to indicate which committee it pertains to.
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.07.50 PM
Finally, enter scroll down further and enter the location information.  Once you’ve entered a location, WordPress stores it in a database so you can refer to it again.  So in this case I entered the name and address of Works Progress and the map was created.  The event manager module, which is an add-on to WordPress, doesn’t let you enter a location without an address it can map, so TBD isn’t accepted – so in the recurring meeting I’ve selected “This event does not have a physical location”, and you will need to de-select that to enter the venue.
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.11.04 PM
When you’re all done, scroll back up to the top and find the Publish section on the right sidebar.  You can preview what you’ve entered if you wish (it will open a new tab or window, which you close to get back to the form).  When you’re comfortable posting it, click on Update (or Publish if it’s a special event).
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.15.28 PM
I said there are two ways to enter posts — you’ll need to use the following (second) approach if the event you want to enter information into isn’t yet showing up on the home page.  In that case you need to get to the event form you just filled out a different way.  Instead of clicking on the hyperlink in the sidebar and clicking edit, go to the top left, pull down the Greenwood Community Council menu, and choose “Dashboard”, and you’ll see a menu in the left sidebar.
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.31.29 PM
Click on Events, and a list of events will show up, including all of the recurring events that have already been defined.  This is a little harder than it should be because the categories aren’t shown, and that’s what would tell you which is for which committee.  So find the event that’s on the date of the meeting you want to enter.  So for example, I know the Safety and Health committee is scheduled for October 8.  If you hover the mouse over “Topic TBD” below, you’ll see options to edit, trash, view, quick edit and duplicate – choose edit and proceed as above.
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.37.51 PM
Posting information to the website and mailing it out
The website is set up so that when you post a message on it, that message is sent out automatically over email.  Who it’s posted to and where it shows up on the website depends on what category the post is assigned to.  The categories are community council (for the general meetings and membership mailings), land use, transportation, safety and health, and something called the GROG – which is something I’ve been hoping the engagement committee would produce.  You can post whatever you think members will be interested in.  
For example, let’s assume you want to post about the same event you just listed and get the information out in email.  You’ll want to use pretty much the same information that’s in the event post.  What I actually do is write the initial post in an email message, get it the way I want it, and then paste it into both the event form and the post.  But you can also just cut and paste what you’ve done already.  I am more likely to put a photo or graphic into a post than into an event listing, and I’m hoping we send out posts that aren’t just events eventually.
So the first thing to do is copy the text from the event you’ve already created.  Again, go to that event from the home page and click on edit.  What I do – and it’s probably not necessary – is click on the Text tab at the top if the text window over all the formatting buttons.  That shows the HTML code.  If you’ve put any formatting or pictures into the post, that ensures it will cut and paste correctly.  Select all of this code and copy it (on my mac that’s command-C, on Windows it’s control-C).
Now you want to create a new post.  At the top of the home page in the black menu, pull down the “New” menu and choose “Post”.  
Before you do anything else, look on the right sidebar for the “Categories” section and select the category that this should be posted in – your committee most likely, and maybe also a subcategory below it.  If any other categories are selected (like Greenwood Community Council), de-select them – otherwise your post will  be sent to people on those lists by mistake.  You can select more than one, and notice there’s a scroll bar to see more.  This will determine what page the post shows up on on the site, and what mailing list it will be sent to.
Then click in the text area and paste the text you copied from the event page.  If you clicked Text to see the HTML, that should still be selected.  Click on Visual to see what it looks like without the HTML code.
Then add a title at the top.  This will also be the subject line in the email that sends your post out to committee members.  I suggest having the event title in the main message, and having the post title be more like an email subject – “GCC meeting next Tuesday on …”
If you want to add a picture (which I sort of like), you’ll need to upload it first to the media library.  First place your cursor where you want the graphic to be pasted.  For good measure, click on Save Draft before you do that, which is up in the right corner.  Then click the “Add Media” button.  You’ll see all sorts of graphics or files already on the site.  
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 8.04.47 PM
You can upload a new file to the library by clicking on the “Upload Files” tab, or you can insert a link to a graphic or file on from another site by clicking “Insert from URL”.  Just drag the file to the center of the screen or click “Select Files” to find them in your computer’s file system.
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 8.07.06 PM
Once the graphic is downloaded, you can add it to your post by clicking on the “Insert Into Post” button at the bottom right of the screen and it will take you back to your post.  If you click on the graphic once it’s entered you’ll see a menu that lets you select its placement to the left, right center or inline with text. 
 Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 8.14.15 PM
When you think you’re done, click on Save Draft in the upper top corner, then on Preview.  If you’re OK with the post, close the preview, DOUBLE CHECK to make sure you’ve selected only your committee in the categories section  of the right sidebar,  and then click Publish.  If everything works correctly it should show up on the committee page associated with the category you gave it, and an email should go out to everyone signed up for that committee.