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Our favourites: free-miums

Whether you work for an agency, a Not For Profit, a big corporate, or for yourself, there are always better ways of doing things to make you more efficient, communicate clearer and faster, or keep on top of what you’re doing.

Enter the world of the free-mium app. Usually the result of a start-up, these are business tools that help you do things better, and the best part is that in most cases they’re free to use, with a small fee required to access premium features.

This month, we spoke to three Board member to find out which apps they turn to to keep on top of their busy lives as communicators.

Julie WeldonJW150
IABC Victoria Secretary, and Principal Consultant and Director of JAW Communications

Skype: I run a virtual team, with people across three states and multiple locations within those states. Many of us work from home offices, so Skype is a great way to stay connected. The chat function is a great way to have virtual ‘water cooler’ conversations, or ask the quick ‘hey, can I run something by you?’ questions you might ask if you shared an office. But it is equally as helpful for collaborating on projects, using the ‘share screens’ function, or bringing all the team together for a meeting. It’s also a great way to connect with comms colleagues across the world, as it makes long conversations cost effective. And, best of all, it’s free.

Toggl: In my business, we work with a range of different clients, on a range of different fee arrangements. Some need us to account for every minute we spend, but others just want to know the total time. I find Toggl a great way to have my virtual team track their time, using standard categories for particular activities. So it helps me meet clients’ expectations when it comes to billing, plus the analysis / export tools give me great insights as a manager as to how and where the team are spending their time. There is a free option, but I find it’s worth paying for a fee for the additional features that it unlocks.

Kate van der DrifKVDD150t
Membership Co-chair, and Consultant at The Launch Box

Basecamp: Basecamp is an online project management tool that allows team members to meet up, share resources and information to deliver seamless campaigns. After your team members log in, one of you establishes a ‘Basecamp’ to keep in one place all of your project resources, chit-chat and project updates through the Message Board. Team members can then refer to the Message Board to quickly access the resources or information they need, along with a separate to-do list which team members can create tasks for their own completion or to assign to someone else. It’s a great tool to manage work to with the to-do list tasks able to be due-dated and checked off on completion.

Fiona McGregorFM150
Brand and Communications Co-chair, Internal Communications Manager at Foxtel

Trello: I use Trello as a shared resource with my fellow Brand and Comms Co-chairs, mainly to storyboard the monthly IABC Vic newsletters. It’s almost like using virtual post-it notes, as it’s really easy to pick up an ‘article’ and shuffle it around – either for the order of stories or month. We can add notes to each article idea, including status updates or an owner, and it’s completely free to use. There are premium options for those who need it.

#slack: I’m working on a project at the moment with third party suppliers who aren’t always co-located, using our systems, or have a Foxtel email address (goodbye Yammer and Skype for Business/Lync). To get around this without excessive amounts of IT interaction (although we did let them know what we were doing) we set up a #slack chat account dedicated to the project. We have different #slack channels for different parts of the project, and only admins can invite participants. We can share images and documents and refer back to conversations as required.

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