You arrange events, book flights, plan meetings, arrange printing, but how tech-savvy are you expected to be in your role? Tim Stackpool explains where to find online solutions to those curly and short-notice challenges.
Quite often, the Executive Personal Assistant is expected to be a master at all manner of business prowess. Bluffing your way through is sometimes an option, but if you ever find yourself confronted with challenges beyond the capability of mere mortals, here are some great online destinations to make your day.
This can be a disaster in the wrong hands, and whipping-up a quick image with text using PowerPoint for a last minute post on social media or LinkedIn can cause more damage to your brand than good.
Canva (www.canva.com) not only serves-up great visual ideas, but also allows collaboration between team members working on the same image. Some of the features do require a fee, but the prices are reasonable, and many of the basic design layouts and ideas are free. More than 50,000 templates are available and no software download is required. The various design categories include invitations, calendars, planners, newsletters, social media graphics and much more.
The flavour of the month when it comes to web creation is WordPress (www.wordpress.com). Many web developers swear by it, and at the rudimentary level it works a treat. It can, however, become as complicated as you want it to be, and may appear frightening to the novice.
Website builders can be a lifesaver when a new site needs to be in the market right now. There is of course, more to having an online presence than just a web page, as you also need a domain name and a place to host it. The easy solution is to reach for a service, like WordPress, that takes care of all hosting, domain and design. Others include the popular Wix (www.wix.com), Weebly (www.weebly.com) and Squarespace (www.squarespace.com). These and similar services make web presence and creation so easy, the difficult bit will be comparing the layouts and prices they offer.
Mailing list communication
Sending a single email to hundreds of contacts generally results in the various mail services identifying your email as spam. While this can be disappointing to find the recipients failed to receive your communication, you can also risk having your own email address blacklisted by email servers around the world for being the originator. CRM (customer relationship management) systems are designed to ensure that such communications avoid being sent
to the trash.
Plenty of online services exist that expertly and elegantly deliver the same email to hundreds (or thousands) of inboxes. Almost all come with inbuilt layout tools for newsletters and form letters, which can also personalise the salutation. Mailchimp (www.mailchimp.com) allows up to 2000 addresses and 12,000 emails per month delivered for free. Completely online, you can format the email as plain text, or use rich layout features to add images and font effects to give your communication a more ‘magazine feel’. Popular alternatives to Mailchimp include GetResponse (www.getresponse.com), iContact (www.icontact.com), and FreshMail (www.freshmail.com).
As with all these suggestions, the real challenge is choosing the one most suitable to your needs, given the different features each one offers.
Tech expert Tim is the technology writer for Executive PA Media. He can be heard on talk radio in his native Australia and is a tech presenter speaking at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle