Dec 1, 2016 by Wendy Content

Sharing the News

MailChimp changes a lot, and so does our Knowledge Base (KB). So a few months ago, we relaunched our monthly, internal Technical Content Newsletter to let people in the company know about new articles and KB updates. We write about fun stuff too, to help spread awareness in the company about what our team does.

KB logo gif

Some people say a newsletter is a good excuse to use a lot of fun gifs. Those people are right.

Why spend time on an internal newsletter?

It’s easy to think that the KB is a big information repository that’s magically updated at night by cute little word elves. But in fact, we’re a hardworking crew of 15 people who write and analyze technical content every day. As MailChimp keeps building awesome new features, our team clacks away on our keyboards, constantly writing and revising articles. Right now, MailChimp’s Knowledge Base is a huge collection of nearly 1,600 articles in Spanish, French, and English.

A gif of somebody typing away on a typewriter

Fun fact: My mechanical keyboard is probably the clackiest on this side of the office. Apologies to my desk neighbors!

Before I was a technical writer (about 1 year and a few hundred articles ago), I started at MailChimp as a tech support agent. There were only about 300 articles back then, and I was amazed at how comprehensive and informative the Knowledge Base was. I loved how empowered the KB made me feel when I chatted with users about virtually any topic, from Google Analytics to automation.

Nowadays, the breadth of our documentation is even more impressive. But I sometimes wonder: how can we possibly expect our coworkers—like new hires, UX designers, developers, and tech support agents, just to name a few—to remember all of our articles? The short answer is, we can’t.

Some researchers say that there’s a maximum number of people you can reasonably keep track of in your social network (150 or so), and I think the same is true for articles. Even for the most helpful articles, I think there’s some limitation to the amount of brainspace that people have available to keep articles in their mind.

So, that’s where the monthly newsletter comes in.

It allows us to update all of our coworkers about what’s going on with the writers, content strategists, managers, and editors in our department, and helps us remind them of recent changes to the Knowledge Base, so they can keep our latest resources fresh in their minds.

The newsletter also serves as a conduit for feedback and collaboration with other departments. After relaunching the newsletter, we noticed that a lot more people started reaching out to us to share feedback about our articles to help make them better for MailChimp users. It’s been great to meet new people and talk about content with colleagues from all over the company, whether it’s our overnight tech support agents or our CEO. It can be intimidating to give feedback to somebody you don’t know very well, but the newsletter makes us available, and reminds people that we’re here to help.

When people ask me what I do at MailChimp, my standard answer is, “I’m a technical writer. It’s more fun than it sounds.” And it really is. For last month’s newsletter, I wrote a feature story about how the KB’s tone has changed over the years. No joke, we once compared Outlook’s email rendering to monkey poop. Yeah, that happened.

A gif featured in a recent newsletter to illustrate what things were like in 2012. We’ve come a long way!

A gif featured in a recent newsletter to illustrate what things were like in 2012. We’ve come a long way!

I like writing an internal newsletter because it’s fun to break out and write something a little more informal. It’s also great to advocate for what we do and foster transparency.  The Technical Content Newsletter helps make everybody at MailChimp feel like they’re a part of what makes the KB a success, because they really are.

We’re still figuring out the best way to share the news to 14 million users about updates to the Knowledge Base, but updating our internal folks is a great start.

Discussion

  • Tony Roma

    03.13.2017 - reply

    I’m a lone writer at my company, but it’s clear we’ll have to build a team as we grow. You folks at MailChimp do a fantastic job, so I thought I’d reach out to you for pointers. I’m happy to find this blog and will devour the existing content. Thank you!

    Of course, if anyone on your team is open to a chat, I’d love to talk to you. So many questions.

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