Friday, June 04, 2004

Useful Communication Technologies

Scott Shaw of Creativerge Communications gave an informative presentation on new internet and web communications technologies at the last IPRA luncheon.

For clients:

Blogger (free and professional versions available)
TypePad ($4.95 to $14.95 per month)
Movable Type ($199.95 for corporate; developer’s tool)

Shaw talked about the ways our clients could use web logs, or blogs, to promote their businesses. Blogs allow companies to have direct conversations with their prospects and customers, such as when someone wants to continue a conversation they began with a product manager at a trade show. Announcements that do not merit a press release can be placed on a corporate blog.

RSS News Aggregators:
News Gator ($29, for Microsoft Outlook)
FeedDemon ($29.95)

Shaw described RSS news aggregators as a great method of distributing press releases and a way around spam filters. Dan Gillmor has said the same thing. (Gillmor uses NetNewsWire, a product for Mac OS X.) Technoflak does not use an RSS service, it’s on her to-do list. AVC has a great discussion on RSS.

HTML Newsletters
Constant Contact (free to $150 per month)
Xpedite (variable pricing)

Shaw is an HTML Newsletter enthusiast. This technology allows companies to incorporate logos and other graphics into their email newsletters. It also allows companies to track who is reading their email newsletters and who deletes it unopened.

Technoflak would counsel against using anything but ASCII text in email. HTML takes too long to download and is an imposition on the recipient. Because HTML can carry a computer virus, many spam filters block all HTML mail.

Nor is Technoflak enthusiastic about any technology that allows the sender to automatically know if the recipient has opened the email. It is a violation of the recipient's privacy.

Online Survey Tools
Survey Monkey ($19.95)
Zoomerang ($599, nonprofit version for $350 or $99 or 90 days, also a free version.)

Online survey tools are a perfect example of how the internet is drastically reducing costs and making it possible for independent practitioners to offer services that previously were out of our reach.

For PR Practitioners

Web-based Project Management
Basecamp HQ ($19 to $59 per month, with a free option)
Ace Project ($40 to $100 per month with a free option)

As Shaw pointed out, this is perfect for the virtual teams common amongst independent practitioners.

TimeSlice ($49)
TimeFox ($35 per month, $5 per additional user)

Instant Messaging
Trillan Pro (free for basic, $25 for pro)
GAIM (free)

To Techoflak, instant messaging combines the annoying interruption of telephone calls with the impersonal nature of email. But everyone she knows swears by it.

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