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Google Calendar as an Internal Comms Scheduling Tool

A post on Tech Republic caught me eye this morning: New features in Google Apps are designed for collaborative teams. Like many people I’ve been using Google + and started to look at some business opportunities for one of my clients. This post made me think of more mainstream options, especially in relation to internal comms.

The scenario is this, in a complex matrix environment that defines most multinational corporate environments there tends to be a lot of noise as various teams and departments compete to get their audience’s attention. This can also feature the ‘red bus syndrome’ whereby nothing happens for ages and then all of a sudden everyone is sending messages at once. The solution to all this is of course planning and governance. This is not always easy in the matrix multinational, for unless you have a central team defining who says what to whom and when, and with what channel, you are going to get noise, randomness and repetition, not to mention anger and frustration. And even if you have near totalitarian control from the centre, you’re still going to need to plan and cohere a lot of different messages.

One way of managing all of this is via Synopsis Communication Planning and Coordination Tools. Bill Quirke of Synopsis demoed this a while back and I thought it an excellent way of planning and scheduling internal comms campaigns. The tool uses the metaphor of flight plans to schedule the messaging campaigns providing a means to avoid all the chaos and noise. Reading the Tech Republic piece, I realised you could make a rough and ready but pretty workable internal comms scheduling tool using Google Calendar, and here’s how.

Tech Republic explains that:

Teams don’t only rely on email for communication, but also on calendars to schedule meetings and events. Google Calendar allows user to overlay coworkers’ calendars on top of their own to find shared open appointment slots.

They provide a screenshot as so:

To use this as a comms scheduling tool, what you need to do is swap people for audiences and channels. This would be easy to do, all you’d need do is simply to create Google Calendar accounts for all these types of entities. What you’d need to do then would be to have a simple light weight governance that said anyone creating a new campaign, would need to create a Google account for that Campaign and to use the calendar to match that up against the target audience, the channel used and other campaigns. The governance might state that there should be no overlap, or that only an agreed number could feature in a given time/target.

It might take some time to bed such a scheduler in but it could be a quick cheap and easy way of scheduling the comms campaigns and managing the noise. unlike say using Outlook calendaring, it would be easy to set up and delete accounts as needed. In addition, going to Month View could provide a graphic overview of planned campaigns – ideal for a screen shot to post out to other stakeholders. A final gain is that the tool could do some of the tricky work in finding the best time to launch a comms campaign, i.e., that perfect moment when no one else is launching theirs. Google Calendar has “The Smart Reschedulerwhich is designed to sift through diaries to find the empty slot and could be used to do exactly the same for a comms campaign.

I’m going to return to Google shortly and look at Google+ . I think Google are already offering a disruptive technologies as this little instance shows. They’re providing quick and easy ways of doing things that are free at the point of entry. Joining these up with Google + changes the game. Their quiet beauty is that they’re all social from the start…

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