Gini Dietrich

Slack: A Communication Tool Every Team Should Use

By: Gini Dietrich | July 9, 2015 | 

Slack LogoBy Gini Dietrich

Alright boys and girls. I have a special treat for you today.

Some of you may already know about this tool—it’s a favorite of developers and start-up teams that work virtually.

And, for others, I’m about to blow your mind.

Are you ready?

There is a tool called Slack that is billed as, “a messaging app for teams. You have everything in one place, instantly searchable. And it’s free for as long as you want, with an unlimited number of people.”

It is all of that and more.

As many of you know, I run a virtual team. There are close to 30 of us spread out across North America and Europe.

All Communication in One Spot? Say it isn’t So!

Before Slack, we were using iMessaging, email, and a private Facebook group.

We also use Asana for project management, Iris for media relations tracking, Cision for media list development, Hootsuite and Sprout Social for social media in one spot, Dynamic Signal for employee engagement, Hubspot for marketing automation and lead generation, Mailchimp for email marketing…you can see it begins to get unwieldily.

Slack puts everything in one spot—and it has open APIs to most of the tools we use. It’s searchable so I can think, “What did Laura need me to include in this plan from her client meeting?” and search a key word or two and voila! It’s all up on my screen.

Nothing we’ve used before now has allowed us to do that.

It also allows me, as the shallow figurehead, to track conversations among the team, gain more context in the client work they’re doing, and provide coaching and mentoring opportunities when I see them versus when my gut says there might be an opportunity.

The Handy, Dandy Slack Dashboard

I use it for Arment Dietrich, for my Spin Sucks coaching groups, for Inside PR, for my mastermind group, and for clients.

Slack Dashboard

In this dashboard, I’ve clicked on For Immediate Release, the podcast network we use for Inside PR.

In there, you can see I have access to every FIR podcaster and we have an Inside PR channel where only Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and I have access.

We use it to schedule our weekly recordings, drop links for things we might discuss, and include the #IPRMustKnow articles that we discuss each week.

What’s amazing about it is, when one of goes to write the show notes, we can just go into Slack, search #IPRMustKnow, for instance, and the week’s articles pop up.

It makes it ridiculously easy to write the show notes and link to the appropriate articles.

The Features of Slack

The features of it are pretty incredible (and it’s free…did I mention that?):

  • Create channels. You can organize your team conversations in open channels that anyone you’ve invited in has access to. You can make a channel for a project, a topic, a team, or anything—everyone has a transparent view of all that’s going on.
  • Send direct messages. To reach a colleague directly, you can send them a direct message. It’s completely private and secure…and it’s only between the two of you.
  • Create private groups. For sensitive information, you can create private groups and invite a few team members. No one else can see or join and it’s like having direct messages for more than one person.
  • Drag, drop, and share files. No more sending emails with attachments (hooray!). No more sending Dropbox links that require you to download the file. You can send files, images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets right through Slack and share with anyone you like. AND, if you use Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, all you have to do is paste the link in there and it gives you the file. You don’t have to download it or go search for it.
  • Everything in one spot. I mentioned they have an open API to hundreds of apps. If you use Asana, for instance, you don’t have to keep it open to get an alert when you have something due. It tags you right in Slack.
  • Searchable. This really is a huge benefit because if you’ve ever tried finding something in a text message, you know you’re doomed. This is probably in my top three loves of this tool.
  • Accessible anywhere. They have a mobile app that mirrors the desktop app so I can get my messages anywhere, anytime. With a team that crosses U.S. borders, I don’t have to worry about international fees if someone isn’t on iMessaging. It’s free access to everyone, all the time.

Of course, you can upgrade Slack to a paid version (and they force you to start paying after 10,000 messages), but the free version is pretty darn handy.

If you pay for it, it’s a whopping $6.67-$12.50 a month.

Totally worth it.

And don’t worry. This isn’t a change that is going to require a lot from your team. It’s pretty easy to get them on board and using it in a couple of days. It was the easiest change I’ve made for the team here…and my email inbox thanks Slack.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Gert- you make the case well… now I just need a team

  • FlipCatLLC

    ginidietrich SpinSucks Been hearing a lot of people recommend #Slack this spring/summer.

  • ginidietrich

    FlipCatLLC We really, really love it!

  • Todd Lyden You can do it with your family! Or your friends! Oh wait. No friends, either?

  • I have all the love for Slack. Also /giphy integrations is a must.

  • travispeterson

    This is awesome.  I just saw one of my colleagues at another firm reference it yesterday.  I’ve heard of it but haven’t tried it.  Thanks for the push off the ledge into the abyss of newness.  

    If it stinks, I’m blaming you, ginidietrich  haha.

  • I <3 Slack. That is all!

  • Elizabeth Papa Reusswig

    The Social Media at Work team is using this! It’s AWESOME!

  • debdobson62

    This is cool!  Thanks for sharing ginidietrich

  • ginidietrich Todd Lyden you’re my ONLY friend

  • Jamie Rutter

    oh. my. god.

  • JamieNRutter

    This looks AMAZING. Dragging/dropping files and being able to search for things would be a godsend!

  • Todd Lyden We can Slack!

  • chelpixie OK! Done!

  • travispeterson It doesn’t stink. I promise! You will love it. But you can blame me for something else. Like…hmmmm….

  • LSSocialEngage Yay!

  • debdobson62 You’re welcome! We really love it.

  • ginidietrich Todd Lyden well, you ARE a slacker

  • JamieNRutter You will be singing my praises in about a week. I’ll come over to your office and collect my prize.

  • Todd Lyden That’s funny because it’s true

  • I love, love, love Slack!

    In addition to being a phenomenal tool for production, it also makes it really easy to build relationships with teams that aren’t located in the same space. At my last position, we had crazy threads like “GIF of the Day” and “Real Internal Memos” that rephrased ridiculous corporate memos. I loved the team building as much as the production!

  • Gini Dietrich

    You’re welcome!

  • Gini Dietrich

    Don’t you love it? We love it. I have all the peeps on it.

  • We had it at Weaving Influence for a period of several months. The main drawback (and this is operational about us, not specific to a downside of slack) is we did not eliminate the other methods of communication (like the internal FB page) and it was optional. Without it being mandatory or the designated primary source of communication, there ended up being duplication of messages (like a FB message saying “did you see what I said on slack?”) kind of thing. But it IS interesting, and has many assets as you point out. I was a fan of the #VentingThread. Who doesn’t need one of those?

  • I just threw it up on my android phone this morning, very interesting. I managed to narcissistically invite myself to my own team of me.  I’ll keep it on,  and perhaps fire out a few more team invites. Thanks G.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more, Gini. We use Slack at Sprout Social and I’ll just say we use the /giphy command A LOT!

  • Darryl Villacorta I have been having WAY TOO MUCH fun with that.

  • Digital_DRK LOL! Literally, I laughed out loud

  • biggreenpen BHAHAAH! That does sort of defeat the purpose, doesn’t it?

  • Digital_DRK “team of me” that’s awesome!

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen totally

  • HeatherTweedy I’m sad. I didn’t give you more to do today. Must. Try. Harder.

  • chelpixie Crap. I just lost a good 15 minutes.

  • ginidietrich #sorrynotsorry

    It’s hysterical. I wish we could giphy in text. 

    But in all reality, I had my doubts when we started using it, how can this really change how we work but it has and it’s awesome.

  • chelpixie I totally agree. I love it!

  • samemac

    We JUST started using this yesterday as a trial and I was immediately blown away.

  • susancellura

    Slack is fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I love everything that is happening the collaboration space. The biggest benefit we’ve found at Iris (thanks for the should out BTW!) is that is reduces the email inbox overload. If you think about how many conversations happen among team members through email, it’s really a no brainer to switch to something like this.

    We use Slack, and just signed up for the Beta of Ryver, which is showing a lot of promise as well. If you’re into the early adopter thing, you might want to check it out.

  • danielschiller

    Slack = how you make sure I’m not slackin.’

  • IrisPRMgt I just checked it out. How are you using it differently than Slack?

  • danielschiller Oh I know you’re slackin’ with out Slack.

  • ginidietrich IrisPRMgt Right now we’re using it in the same way, but it feels less “developery” if that makes sense. My team was faster to adopt this than Slack, I think, for that reason. And I love trying new tools 🙂

  • IrisPRMgt This is why we’re friends.

  • susancellura Yay! Slack!

  • samemac You are going to LOVE it. You may ask it to marry you.

  • ginidietrich IrisPRMgt Indeedy!

  • patmrhoads

    I received an invitation from my boss for Slack yesterday. I haven’t dug into it yet, but this blog post certainly piques my curiosity. Very timely.

  • ginidietrich You clearly knew I had three content audits due today.  Thanks for the break. 🙂

  • HeatherTweedy You’re welcome. I guess.

  • patmrhoads DIG INTO IT!

  • Gini – We use Asana for project management also. Do you now move all of your conversation about tasks into Slack instead of Asana? Or, how do the two work together? Maybe I just need to test it out to see how it might work for us. I know a lot of people love Slack – I’ve just not tried it yet.

  • lauraclick You can tag conversations in Slack and it moves them to Asana. You also can have it send you messages when you have items due. I never open Asana anymore. It’s pretty nifty!

  • Brian Meeks

    I’ve been using Slack for three months now and I LOVE it!!!

  • JohnBentz

    I am just learning Slack right now and I am loving everything about it.

  • I checked this tool out a few months back. But it really needs teams. Meaning me checking it out via invite from strangers really didn’t do much for me or bring me to use it a lot vs just giving it a spin. It is not a social media replacement vs a simplifying many of the social media type comm tools, messaging, and even project management (aka Salesforce).

    That said Salesforce must be freaking out.because I use Insightly now for CRM and this really hits their internal comm  I let my account lapse and a single user only spends like $120 a year and i get called 3x a week by a real human trying to win me back!

  • Been using it since February, love it. But you forgot the most important part – the hours of fun to be had when having Giphy fights! 🙂

  • I honestly was skeptical when you first wanted to start using this. It felt like one more communication arm to add to the endless others. But I’m obsessed. It has made our team collaboration and project management soooo much easier.

  • Danny Brown WORD.

  • #Amirite? 🙂

  • Danny Brown The randomness leads to hysterics.

  • Danny Brown /giphy rocks!!!

  • chelpixie

  • JohnBentz It’s pretty great, right?

  • ginidietrich lauraclick I HAVE TO GET ON THIS TRAIN