It’s been a decade, maybe two since the merger of communications and technology. Some could argue it started with the old Wordstar word processing program. Or maybe it was Lotus Notes internal email application. But whatever that monumental moment was, the full merger of communications and technology has happened. Today if you are even the slightest bit technophobic, then it might be best to choose a career other than marketing or branding. But if you don’t mind delving into the world of computers, the cloud, and a host of apps that bring your brand to life and get your message out, here are the technology musts.
You may say you don’t need to actually know any of this stuff, after all you will hire people who do. But you can bet that having a solid technology foundation and a willingness to learn new things will help you in ways you have yet to imagine. Sure you may not actually do the work, but you can’t recommend the strategy if you don’t understand the technology and what it can do for you. You can’t be a good purchaser of services if you don’t know the language. And you can’t pull off marketing miracles if your hands are bound by your fear of technology.
Let’s start with the absolute basics. One is old school, Microsoft Word, and one is new school, WordPress:
Believe it or not, much of your communication still happens through word processing documents. Reports & proposals – these all are part of your brand promise. If they look amateurish, that reflects on your brand. So how do you make sure your materials don’t look like you turned your computer on and started typing? How do you make sure that professional brand look we created for you lives on beyond the brand presentation?
- Tip: Understand and learn how to use style sheets. Word actually is quite powerful when it comes to type management and page layout. I wouldn’t recommend it for laying out a brochure, but to make your reports and proposals speak volumes about your work, learn how to manage type and layout through style sheets.
- Tip: Understand how to use Word’s line leading controls and paragraph functions. This is the secret to making pages look professional. It’s more than just adding line breaks between paragraphs. You want to control the space between your lines and between your paragraphs. If you don’t understand type, and leading, you’ll have a hard time pulling off a professional brand look.
- Tip: Learn the right way to use tabs. You can drag and drop them right in the page ruler. It’s that easy. Too many people just use the auto tabbing and align their text in a space that looks “close enough.” Not good. It’s so easy to set tabs where you want them, why not do it?
- Tip: Become an expert at using tables. Word’s table function is powerful enough to handle many of the most complicated charts and even create forms. Just mess around with it, you’ll pick it up if you let yourself make mistakes to learn.
We’ll stop there with Microsoft Word. That’s enough for you to start bringing your skill levels where you’ll need them to be effective in the digital world of communications. Practice and see what the tools do. Use the online help to guide you when in doubt.
Let’s move on to your website.
WordPress is another way to publish your own content. We strongly urge business owners to create their websites using the WordPress development engine because it is so powerful, scalable and easy to keep fresh. Plus you can even post blogs, edit pages, change settings, approve and reply to posts, etc. right from your iPhone, iPad or similar devices. You’ll want a company like ours to help you with the initial website development, but once you have the site, what do you need to know?
- Tip: Understand and be familiar with image file formats. If you’re expecting to do anything in marketing, you’ll need to know the difference between a .jpg, a .bmp and an .eps file. You’ll need to be able to convert image files and compress them for online use. Learn how to upload images, crop and re-size them. Know what aspect ratio is and how to maintain it. These are critical to working in the communications arena.
- Tip: Know where to go online for images, music and videos that you will use on your website. Begin a digital photo and video library of your own company media and tag them for easy retrieval. Keep them on your own local computers or in “the cloud” on sites like Flickr, YouTube or Vimeo.
- Tip: Master the administrator interface on your WordPress website. Our developers will set up your site so that it can be dynamic allowing you to add content continually. Learn how to add a page, how to edit a page, how to add images, embed videos, manage your navigation menus and how to categorize and tag your pages and posts for easy search.
The tips in this post are by no means all inclusive and we are not trying to turn you into a power-user in any of these areas. These are simply the basic skills we have found most lacking and most needed for keeping a brand alive. We can create the brand, but you and your team must have the basic skills needed to keep it alive and growing with quality and consistency. Watch for more posts on this subject. There’s much more to learn, but this should get you started.