Strategies & Tactics

Channel Your Workspace: How Slack’s PR Team Uses Its Own Platform

June 27, 2018

[slack]
[slack]

As communications professionals, we’re in the business of creating connections with people. And yet too often, the daily pulls and pressures of running global communications programs — or even driving sustained PR campaigns — can lead in-house and agency teams into a confusing web of siloed communication streams and stakeholder engagement.

Anyone who’s worked on a global communications launch — across time zones, with an overlapping cast of characters and a growing inbox of email threads, plans and meeting invitations — knows how hard it can be to keep the campaign running. Since joining the company in early 2017, I’ve learned just how effective Slack is in driving seamless collaboration across our in-house PR team and agency partners in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Working in Slack helps us stay close and better connected not only with one another, but also with other key contacts within the company (spokespeople, members of the sales team, marketing or product leaders, etc.), bringing the right people together with the right information. The software, information and conversations we rely on to do our jobs are all in one place, making it faster and easier to get things done.

Here are five ways we use Slack to improve our work:


1. Collaborate 24/7 on a shared channel. This secure workspace allows our in-house and agency teams to jointly discuss every aspect of our PR efforts, from news cycles and events to upcoming announcements and proactive campaign initiatives. It also ensures that everyone can find historical files and conversations quickly. We no longer have to contend with a mess of meetings, email threads and different reports; instead, we have created integrated agency channels for topics that need to be visible to the whole team (in-house and agencies), along with channels for smaller teams focused on projects related to specific sectors, such as product and corporate programs.

Elite, globally distributed creative agencies such as R/GA have discovered the power and utility of working this way with their clients, including McDonald’s, Airbnb and Nike. They share mock-ups, send and receive reports when tasks are complete, and set up automatic notifications as projects reach milestones. Managers at R/GA — like those at our own agencies — no longer have to write long email summaries or schedule presentation meetings. No one gets left behind trying to decipher what’s happening based on fragmented views of a fast-moving campaign.


2. Provide secure, confidential and quick feedback. Slack channels give teams across the company full visibility of a project’s momentum and easy access to all points of contact. At Slack, spokespeople are assigned their own channel, where PR teams can share ideas, discuss opportunities, source insights and coordinate schedules with executive assistants. For confidential projects, we also create a closed space where you can work with business development, finance or legal teams.


3. Avoid notification overload. We use “reacjis,” which allow team members to stay close to each other and react quickly to updates using universally recognized emojis. This plays into the importance of nonverbal cues that resonate globally as people naturally understand visuals.

For example, ":eyes:" lets people know you’ve seen their message, while the ":heavy_check_mark:" symbol confirms that a designated task has been completed. With these “reacjis,” we give people immediate updates on a project’s progress, without the annoying back-and-forth of traditional email chains. Just as important, reacjis such as ":tada:" are a great way to celebrate a job well done.


4. Use integrations. In Slack, you can get your work done without jumping from one software application to another, which makes individual team members and the entire group more productive.

For example, we use Google’s G Suite as our office-productivity application. When sharing Google Docs in Slack channels, the sender is immediately notified if anyone in the channel doesn’t have permission to access the document, so there isn’t any time wasted adjusting viewing permissions. We use Zoom to launch video conferences directly from Slack, so we can transfer seamlessly from written conversations to face-to-face meetings. Twitter offers another great software integration that we use to bring tweets into Slack, allowing the whole PR team to easily track and participate in Twitter conversations directly from Slack.


5. Remove friction from daily tasks. The IFTTT (if this, then that) application integration with Slack allows us to automate coverage tracking across the globe. Google alerts about news articles are often delayed, so instead of manually checking to see whether an article has been published, the IFTTT bot immediately sends anticipated coverage to a designated Slack channel. Removing friction from reporting and global templates helps accelerate the pace of communications across the business.


With the right mix of software applications and integrations that complement your unique PR programs and organizational needs, Slack can help organize your team and improve company culture. Technology should be empowering — not disenfranchising — and this is what Slack delivers across our growing global team.

Terry Anderson

Terry Anderson is the vice president of global communications at Slack, responsible for all internal and external communications efforts across the company. She previously oversaw global communications for Intel, VMware and Cisco. Terry has more than 20 years of experience in communications leadership positions in Silicon Valley.

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