It’s pretty obvious; if you’re in the field of communications, you know that things are ever changing. Today, Snapchat might be the hottest new app, but by tomorrow, there could be something even bigger and better than you could have imagined.
There are so many new resources, products, apps, etc. that are introduced in the market or on the web daily. As journalists, we’re supposed to know the latest and greatest about EVERYTHING. As public relations people, we’re supposed to know the most effective way to get stuff done. As advertisers, we’re supposed to know the newest strategy in the book that’s proven to work with consumers. It can be extremely overwhelming to have that much responsibility and pressure resting on our shoulders. But no worries; there are some classic, good ol’ resources that will always be handy to have in your back pocket.
#1 Google Drive
With all of the wonderful things I say about Google Drive, you would think that the company was paying me to promote them. Sadly, that is not the case, I’m just an extremely satisfied user that wants everyone to know this option is out there for them. Google Drive is an online file storage system. All you need is a Google account and you get 15 GB of free storage. Since I’m still a college student, I take all of my notes and write all of my papers in Google Docs. This way, I can access them from any computer on campus, whether that be my laptop in my dorm or that 3:00 AM rush to the third floor of the library. Plus, everything automatically saves so I don’t have to worry about losing my work. And group projects? No problem. You can all work together in documents, or presentation with Google Slides, at the same time from different locations. All you have to do is share the link with whoever you want to be included and then decide what role they will serve (can comment, can edit, can view).
Not only is Google Drive useful for school, it also helps me accomplish tasks for volunteer work at church and projects for my hobbies like running my fanpages. I keep a running list of all of my ideas for church in a Google Doc. I use Google Forms to send surveys out to the members when I need their input on something. Best part? The answers are automatically generated in a Google Sheets document where I’m able to easily and clearly analyze the results and answers.
Bottom line, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a Google Drive account. It’s tons of storage, a work space you can access from anywhere, and information you can share with anyone; all for free.
#2 A Social Media Presence and Following
It’s hard to imagine a place without Internet access or apps, isn’t it? So much of today’s communication is done digitally, which means we must change, or expand, the way we think about how communicatoin works. There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and it can be confusing to know which ones you should have. I personally recommend a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Vimeo. Some other people may say that Pinterest and Snapchat are a must as well, but to avoid overwhelming yourself, start out small and with the basics. Each one offers different options for you and different ways to engage with your followers. The decision whether to make separate personal and professional accounts is totally up to you. Personally, I have a separate Twitter account for all of my “professional” type endeavors.
Not only do you have to have accounts, you need to be active. Share articles that are similar to what your goals are or what sort of image you’re striving to achieve. Take a poll to get your followers involved and learn from their opinions. Create a video that attracts attention and brings your story to the front line. Whatever it may be, you need to start creating and sharing content that will get people’s attention and attract followers. Followers are an important part of your success. The more followers you have, the more eyes see your content and the more opportunities for that content to be shared to even more people there are. Don’t be obessed with the numbers that they’re the only thing that you think about, but if you’ve had your accounts for two years, have been posting on a consistant basis, and only have 27 followers, something isn’t working out.
#3 A Blog
In today’s world, there are literally millions and millions of data created every single day and shared online. As communications people, we’re supposed to share our words be social with people on a constant basis, but how are we supposed to compete with that much noise? Although a social media presence is a must, you should also have a blog of some sort. It’s more of a professional take on writing articles, sharing information, and posting news. People who care and aren’t on the Internet just to post a picture of their lunch that day or to share a funny cat video, will most likely dig a little deeper to find valuable information and opinions, like a blog focused on journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, and so on.
Most blog sites are free (which also means limited) to create. I have personally used WordPress and Weebly but the possibilities are endless. My point is, go find a template that you like and just start posting. Get your voice out there. Then share your content with your friends, on your social medias, or wherever. The purpose is that you’re making an effort to make a difference and develop your personal brand and image in the online world. And if you find that it’s something you enjoy or that it becomes a huge success, you can always purchase your own domain name later on and reach even more people and have even more options with your blog creations.
#4 Video Editing Software
Now that you have resources to brainstorm and work, and places to share your content, you need to actually create content. In my opinion, it’s important to be well rounded and have a basic understanding of many different skills. So we know how to make documents in Google Drive, we know how to re-tweet an article, and we know how to write a blog post, but how to we do more?
This year in college, I was introduced to basic photography and videography skills, and they’re something I want to explore more deeply. I also believe that no matter what sector of communications you’re part of, they’re great skills to have. Who knows when your boss might ask you to create a promotional video for a new product? Or if you’re sent to the scene to capture stills of the action?
For class, all we used were our cell phones, so my skills are pretty amateur in this field right now, but what I DO know, is that you need good software to make the most of your work. I have come to love iMovie more than anything else that I’ve tried. Windows Movie Maker is okay, but it seems to be more of a hassle than it needs to be. Both of these options are free, and to just be dabbling in the arts and playing around with ideas, that’s all I need. Free doesn’t mean terrible quality though. Both of my projects I created for class turned out pretty well. There are tons of options, effects, enhancements, and so on that really add to the overall feel of your videos.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and try out some new stuff to expand your tool kit! After all, the more you know, the more versatile you are, which in turn, can make you more of a useful and productive employee than that other guy who applied for the same position as you.
What are some of your go-to or must-have tools that you can’t see your life without?