Bulletins: A remote-friendly alternative to all hands

Thom Cummings
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In the weeks since we’ve all gone fully remote, we’ve had to contend with a host of new challenges, many of them centered around how to communicate effectively. From holding meetings in Zoom or cutting through the chatter on Slack, everyone is learning to navigate our "new normal."

Pitch has been a remote-friendly organization since the start, and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. One of our biggest takeaways is that keeping the entire company updated on a regular basis is a massive challenge.

When you think of company-wide updates, all hands are probably the first thing that comes to mind. But as anyone who has tried to hold an all hands via video knows, it's not easy. With people scattered across different time zones, someone will inevitably be forced to join in after hours, and even if you do manage to find a time slot, who wants to add yet another meeting to our already busy days?

We realized pretty early on that we needed a better way to keep the organization updated. One that was asynchronous, agile, and suited to the way we work today. That's how we discovered weekly bulletins: a remote-friendly alternative to all hands.

Introducing bulletins: The new way to do all hands

Meetings and emails aren’t always the ideal format for presenting information. You can only put so much into an email before it becomes too long, and the time-bound nature of meetings means you’re forced to edit or cut out information. They aren't really interactive because even if you do have time for a Q&A at the end of an all-hands meeting, not everyone feels comfortable speaking up. And hitting reply-all to the entire company? That’s for the truly brave.

Presentations allow people to express their ideas succinctly, with multimedia, and in a much less stressful environment than composing a memo or all-company email that many people will never read. They're also much more interactive than emails or meetings. People can engage, comment, and share their thoughts in their own time.

Here's how it works: Each Friday, we all collaborate on a presentation that is sent to the company. We call these our weekly bulletins, and they’re our way of keeping the entire team up to date about what’s going on at Pitch.

We use these weekly bulletins for high-level updates. They give us a chance to celebrate quick wins as well as larger initiatives, since we don't have to trim content for time. We link out to relevant pages in Notion or Figma for anyone who wants to delve into deeper explorations.

Important company news, like new hires and office updates, is located at the front of the deck. The rest is dedicated to updates from team members. People can add as many or as few slides as they like, and each team has their own section, so it’s easy to navigate and build.

In-the-moment updates and historical records

The asynchronous nature of bulletins means everyone has time to thoughtfully consume and comment on ongoing work across the company, which leads to greater collaboration between teams and departments. Plus, those who may not feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting can still share their thoughts.

In addition to providing weekly updates of what’s going on in the company, bulletins also serve as historical records of what we've been working on. This makes for great onboarding reading for newbies and it also provides perspective on how far a team has come and how the company has evolved.

Pitch team bulletin
A look back at our weekly bulletins

A few more reasons why we love bulletins

  • Always available: Bulletins can be consumed and engaged with in someone’s own time, and offer the space to celebrate other’s work while effectively distributing information.
  • Fully transparent: With bulletins, it’s always clear what other teams are working on.
  • Fun to create — and read: We actually look forward to reading bulletins! Everyone loves to get creative, adding GIFs and fun pops of personality in their slides.

Less time in meetings, more time doing what matters

We wanted to make it quick and easy for everyone in the company to work on the bulletin, so we created a template in Pitch that we use each week. It takes just a few minutes to drag and drop slides from the template into the presentation and customize the copy and image. The template has multiple slide layouts with image placeholders, so non-designers don't have to worry about cropping, resizing, or styling.

The work of creating each weekly bulletin is fully distributed. Everyone from interns to team leads and founders are contributing, so the work doesn't pile up onto any one person. Each person spends a little bit of time, and it really adds up! Think about if you have a company of 100 people, each week you spend:

Conclusion

We believe great ideas come from everywhere. That’s why we try to do everything we can to enable everyone at Pitch to be part of the conversations we’re having as a company. As a remote-friendly company, it’s important to us that everyone has visibility into what others are working on, no matter where they’re working from. Bulletins have given us a way to elevate all-company updates into something that’s truly enjoyable and special to create and consume. But don’t just take it from us, try it for yourself and let us know how you get on.

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