Email Sign Out: Why Some Communications Teams Are Switching to Slack

June 1, 2017

“My inbox is crazy,” says everyone, at almost every company, everywhere. Research backs up that complaint.

A 2012 McKinsey report said email took up more than a quarter of the average worker’s time. Frustration with email isn’t new, but now that messaging platforms have matured and younger generations have entered the workplace, there are finally great alternatives.

In today’s world, a high school or college student might not even know what email is, but can easily use emojis, animated GIFs, filters, stickers and drawings to communicate quickly and efficiently with friends. Until recently, a misconception about these types of communications was that they’re unprofessional and not meant for the workplace. And then Slack was built.

Like many communications platforms before it, Slack has gone through different iterations that weren’t quite as good as the one we have today. MySpace and Friendster were popular social networks before Facebook emerged and eventually destroyed them, as Slack is now doing to AOL Instant Messenger, Google Chat and many others.

The big difference is that Slack has created a superior user experience that brings the fun of emojis and GIFs into a professional environment. While Slack has not yet replaced external email, thousands of companies are forgoing email for more efficient, professional and relaxed internal communicating with Slack.

For PR teams and agencies, it’s never been more important to consider implementing Slack at your company (with guidelines) to limit or eliminate unnecessary emailing among employees.

By using Slack, your team can:

1. Limit communications to relevant topics. One of Slack’s best features is that it lets you set up public and private “channels” that act as discussion rooms, file-sharing vaults and brainstorms. For PRSA’s Tri-State District, we exclusively use Slack instead of email, and focus our conversations on the topics we need to discuss.

2. React with emojis instead of “reply all.” When you’re copied on an email update that you don’t need to receive or pay attention to, you often get roped into endless “reply-all” responses that in many cases are just one-word acknowledgements. The time it takes to open, read, delete or archive each of these emails adds up. On Slack, you can simply react with a “thumbs up” or other emoji of your choice to let the person know you’ve seen what they said.

3. Have more focused conversations. Email was designed to mimic postal letters, but today’s communication environment demands professional and concise conversations. Every time you write a new email you’re forced to pick a new subject line, but Slack recognizes that most conversations revolve around a small number of topics, such as committees, projects, events or clients.

4. Keep everyone on the team apprised of new developments. Deciding who to include on an email is often difficult but, as teams evolve and grow, it is increasingly important for employees to know what’s happening. Slack allows employees to peek into what’s going on in appropriate channels without distracting them from their work.

5. Have fun and get to know your colleagues.
One of the worst things about email is that unless you use exclamation points, you can easily be misconstrued as having an attitude. Slack lightens things up with GIFs and integrations with other important apps.

As the communications world adapts to the fast-paced environment of journalists, clients and companies, it’s important to realize that email is the past, not the future. Start Slack-ing off soon.

On May 11, Edelsburg presented a PRSA webinar titled “Why Your Communications Team Should be Using Slack.” PRSA members have free access to this and many more webinars.

Natan Edelsburg

Natan Edelsburg is executive vice president at Muck Rack, a digital PR and journalist platform, where he handles the business side of the company. He’s chair of PRSA Tri-State, director of finance for PRSA’s New York Chapter, and serves on the professional development committee for PRSA National. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @twatan.


Emily says:

I respectfully disagree with the author. #Slack like a great idea, and we were enthusiastic about trying it on our comms team, but ultimately we felt it was just amounted to yet another thing we have to check. We can't stop doing email because most of the rest of the world is on it; if we could, it might be different. I know software developers who use and love it, and I can see it being a great fit for that type of work. I also think it is a massive stretch to say that younger people don't know what email is. That's kind of like saying people don't know what a pencil is. Not as ubiquitous as it used to be, but an essential part of our culture for a long time. One would have to be quite sheltered o be unaware of its existence.

June 7, 2017

Natan Reuven Edelsburg says:

Emily, thanks for the feedback and agree to disagree! If you ever wanted to chat more about it would love to. Also, you're totally right - they probably do know email, the same way I know what VHS tapes are :). Thank you for reading!

June 9, 2017

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