Software speed dating: quickly finding a good match for your communications team
(Author: Frederik Vincx)
It’s about four months since many of us began the year full of good intentions. Go to the fitness centre more. Eat more healthily. Read more. What remains of these resolutions a quarter of a year later?
Being involved in the building of communication software I also saw many communication teams and all their good intentions in January. Improving their workflow was high up on the list. They wanted to get rid of old software and inefficient ways of working.
Four months later some of these teams are well on their way to accomplishing better work in less time. The majority of the other teams, on the other hand, are no further forward.
How does their approach differ? What do efficient teams do differently in their search for better results?
1. Know what you want
The days of PR teams only being involved in media relations are long gone. Modern teams like Outsource also help manage the rest of the PESO model: Paid, Owned, Shared and Earned media. And there are various issues to solve in every area of expertise and plenty of tools to help.
Start where it hurts the most. Identify the greatest issues in your workflow and use these as a basis to list your tool requirements.
Tip: I published an extensive guide on how to modernise your PR team. You can find techniques to help identify problems in the chapter on workflow mapping.
2. Divide and conquer
A well-known African proverb says: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. This wisdom is also relevant to management changes within organisations.
You don’t have to change your entire communication right away. It’s all about seeing what works first. So avoid large committees and long meetings. Appoint one or two people to look into possible solutions.
Choose a number of representatives and make them ambassadors of the project. Let them find out quickly if a tool or way of working is the right solution.
3. Search in the right places
It’s easy to find communication software. There are many online product catalogues with a mass of solutions. The most extensive overview specifically relevant to PR is PRstack.co. This is a crowd-sourced catalogue with over 250 communication tools. The overview is arranged nicely according to area of expertise and objectives. You can make a shortlist of tools in no time at all.
4. Seek guidance
There are myriads of tools. Take social media monitoring for example and you soon end up with long shortlists of tools like Hootsuite, Falcon Social, Engagor or BrandWatch. What is the most efficient way to choose between them?
Ask the software teams themselves to help. Those selling software usually offer online demos. Take half an hour per tool to understand the product’s worth. If you want to be sure that your questions are covered then pass on your checklist up front.
5. Do some speed dating
This is often where things go wrong. Following their research communication teams want to make the perfect choice right away and spend months deliberating. Analysis paralysis in other words.
The solution? Start small. Take the various tools on a short date.
In this way you avoid rolling out a tool to the entire team immediately. Avoid interference from IT. Go off the radar briefly to discover whether the tool is both useful and convenient. Find out now rather than after you have persuaded your entire team to use the tool.
Most software packages offer a test version lasting between two weeks and a month. Use this time to carry out a pilot project. If this is successful you can work in phases with other clients and projects. If not then try out a different solution.
You can no longer avoid software tools if you want to work efficiently. Now that communication teams are needed to manage more and more areas of expertise it is also necessary to test and use more and more specific tools. Do this by applying a simple procedure so that you can quickly get an insight into what works for your team.
Frederik Vincx helps communication teams to increase their impact by improving collaboration.
He does this with lectures, practical guides and designing workflow software.
His focus lies on Prezly. This is a tool that helps large companies to manage and distribute all their news. Prezly’s customers include Audi, Emirates Airlines, HP, IKEA, KBC, Samsung, Toyota, and the Flemish Parliament.