McKinley Marketing's newsletter is back, and so is the Blog Watchdog. This column is a bit of a departure from previous editions, but I think you'll like it. As always, the obligatory full disclosure: I'm a paid freelance writer for McKinley...
The Blog Watchdog takes a slightly different approach in this February 2008 edition. As a busy association executive working in marketing and communications, I'm constantly on the lookout for anything to help me get things done faster and more efficiently. This month, I'm sharing four free online resources and services that I use in business virtually every single day that marketing and communications staff like you can use to squeeze more productivity out of those eight (ha!) hours you spend in the office every day.
Let's start with Flickr.com. Flickr is a widely-used photo sharing site among technology-savvy photographers who coincidentally embrace creative commons licensing. At Flickr.com/creativecommons, you'll find nearly seven million photos (as of February 23, 2008) that you can use for free in the "By Attribution" category. Your only obligation under this license is to credit the creator. An additional 52 million photos (as of February 23, 2008) are available for use with different rules in the creative commons framework. Ordinarily I use images I find here for broadcast emails and blog posts. Here's a review and more details.
Hands-down, my favorite site I'll tell you about today is Meebo.com. Meebo is an instant messenger client that you never have to download or install. It just works in a web browser. If your co-workers instant message, rather than clog up your e-mail inbox, to ask quick questions like "How's that newsletter copy coming?" or "Have you heard back from the mailhouse yet?", you can keep in touch with them even when you're on the road, whether you have a laptop or just stop by an internet kiosk. You can also aggregate several different instant messenger formats into a single Meebo account. In other words, you can chat in AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, Gtalk and ICQ right within Meebo. Here's another review.
Occasionally, I need to send large files to graphic artists, printers or someone in the approval process that are too large for e-mail. Ordinarily, I would FTP the files, but you can remove another application from your computer and do this just as effectively by using YouSendIt.com to solve this problem. Just type in the email address of the person you want to send to, upload the file, and YouSendIt transfers the file for you with a friendly message to let the recipient know that the file is ready for download. The email alert actually speeds up the process over FTP, because it eliminates the need for you to tell the recipient that the file has arrived. Best of all, there's no registration or installation required. Another YouSendIt review.
Sometimes, association marketing and communications types have to organize committee meetings. It can be a real nightmare trying to get everyone on the phone, or in the same place, at the same time. MeetingWizard.com isn't the sexiest meeting scheduling platform on the web, but it's the most friendly, in my opinion. I've tried other solutions, but no-frills MeetingWizard is straightforward, simple to use, and employs text-only email. MeetingWizard is more like a Toyota than a BMW, but it's just what you need to get from point A to point B without having to trouble yourself with what all the dials and gauges mean. Check out this review.
As always, if you have feedback or a tip for Ben, e-mail him at bkmcae at gmail dot com.