Staying in Touch With Your Community November 4, 2016

adobe-connect-bwUpdate: Watch the recording via Adobe Connect at http://stc.adobeconnect.com/p3k11wpzn4w/

Note: Due to technical difficulties the first ten minutes are not available, but the slides cover the material.

Slides from the presentation are available for viewing now (Adobe Presenter) at: http://stc.adobeconnect.com/p695jr614mn/

The MailChimp tutorial recommended by Toni (54 minutes) is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE0k7tuKEa0

The email information website recommended by Toni is http://www.emailisnotdead.com/ 

Attendee Tim Esposito mentioned some posts on Google Docs and Google accounts on the CAC website:

http://www.cac-stc.org/sharing-community-files-in-google-drive

http://www.cac-stc.org/customizing-your-chapter-email-addresses

Special thanks to our speakers, Erika Frensley and Toni Ressaire, and to Elaine Gilliam and Ben Woelk for resolving the difficulties.

 

Fri, November 4, 2016 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT

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About the Webinar

Coordinating with members, volunteers and administration council members across a large geographic or metropolitan area can be challenging. STC Houston coordinates with admin council members using Skype and Google Drive, and STC France keeps in touch with members using MailChimp. Erika Frensley describes how STC Houston uses Skype and Google Drive for STC Houston meetings and business. Toni Ressaire talks about using MailChimp and principles that would apply to any email software.

This webinar will be recorded. 

About the Audience

This webinar is for STC community leaders, who are encouraged to register and attend online or watch the recording.

About the Speakers

Jane Wilson LinkedIn

Erika Frensley has been a technical writer for over 20 years, and a member of STC since the mid 90s. She has worked in the medical, software, oil and gas and financial industries. In STC Houston she has been a Satellite Director, Competitions Director and Manager, Newsletter Editor and Webmaster. She is currently the President of STC Houston for the first time.

 

Candid hheadshot of Toni Ressaire

Toni Ressaire works with companies and individuals in various countries providing consulting, training, technical documentation, and technical engineering. She is the owner/founder of Route 11 Publications, a print and digital book publishing company she started to help talented authors get their works published. Toni is the President of STC France and a founding member of Tech Writers Without Borders.

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Customizing Your Chapter Email Addresses

Everyone wants to have a custom email address that fits their personality. That’s fine until your new chapter leader’s email is FuzzyBunnySnuggler25@email.biz, and it doesn’t look entirely professional on your chapter mailings. There are a few options out there to make your community email addresses look professional, and branded to suit your community. The first is using Gmail, and the second is using Email Forwarders in your website’s cPanel.

Gmail

The first option is to create email accounts dedicated to the job roles of your chapter: president, VP, treasurer, secretary, programs, webmaster, etc. These emails would not be tied to a user, but to the job role. So when one volunteer steps down and the new volunteer fills their place, they have the history of past communications stored in the account. Contacts will be there, as will prior community planning conversations.

Create an Admin Gmail Account

In order to do this, first set up an Admin gmail account. I recommend using your community nickname@gmail.com, for example stcmuc@gmail.com for STC-MadeUpCommunity. All of the subsequent accounts you are going to create will use this account as the rescue account, if the password is lost. The recovery email account for the Admin account should be your soon-to-be-created President or Webmaster account.

This Admin account is key. Use it to create a Google Drive and share it with all the leadership role email accounts you are about to create. Then you can store all your community documents on the Admin’s Google Drive, and your documents won’t get lost between changes in command.

Create Role Gmail Accounts

After you create your Admin account, create role accounts for each of your chapter roles. I recommend using a consistent format that brands all of the email addresses together. Create an email naming pattern, such as community.role@gmail.com. For example, muc.president@gmail, or muc.treasurer@gmail. When you create the accounts, make the fallback email the Admin account for all of these. Also, I recommend leaving off the cell phone validation since next year the person with the cell phone may not be the role assigned to the email.

Email Forwarders in cPanel

So now you have all these Gmail accounts. The name on the account is branded to match your community nickname, so there is continuity between accounts. What if you want to personalize the email addresses even more by changing the email domain? That can be easily done using the email forwarders built into cPanel.

cPanel is the website toolbox associated with your chapter’s domain. You can manage your website FTP setting, view the file structure of your website, back up your site, and view error logs, among other tasks, in your cPanel. If your chapter is hosted by STC’s hosting solution, you’ll be given cPanel credentials when STC begins hosting. If you’ve lost these credentials, contact webmaster@stc.org to retrieve them, along with the website for the STC cPanel host.

Note: SIGs are hosted differently by STC and do not have access to cPanel. However you can contact webmaster@stc.org to create email forwarders for your SIG.

One of the easiest to use tools in cPanel is the email forwarder. When you create an email forwarder, it creates what looks like an email address branded with your domain. That forwarder is not an actual account; no email will be stored within it. Instead, when email is sent to that address, it will be seamlessly forwarded on to any other addresses you specify.

cPanel, showing the email forwarder
Your cPanel layout may appear differently based on the theme selected.

Once you open the Forwarders app, you’ll see a list of existing forwarders. If there are none, click Add Forwarder. In the new screen, enter the address to forward. Specify how you want the forwarder to appear, and what real account to forward to, such as the Gmail accounts I described earlier. In my example, I’m using the CAC website, so the domain is cac-stc.org. On your site, it will be whatever your domain is.

Adding an Email Forwarder
This is how it looks, but with your domain at the top.

Each forwarder can be tied to one email address when you create the forwarder. However, you can add the same forwarder multiple times, and each time specify a different email address. This is handy when multiple people are sharing a job role, such as competition managers or if the president wants to be copied on all event registration emails. Just repeat the process above, entering the same Address to Forward. Then put a different Forward to Email Address value in each time.

Conclusion

Brand your chapter by completing the following tasks, as described above.

  1. Create similarly-branded role accounts in a free email service like Gmail.
    1. Create an Admin account first. Link all further accounts to that Admin account.
    2. Store all the passwords for all the accounts in an encrypted password tool, like LastPass or KeePass.
    3. If you used Gmail, take advantage of their cloud storage, and move your community’s files to the Google Drive owned by your Admin account.
    4. By using role accounts, records of prior communications and contacts are maintained year to year, regardless of the person using the account.
  2. If you want further email customization, sign into cPanel and create custom email forwarders that point to either your new Gmail accounts, or to the email addresses your leaders prefer to use. You do not need to use Gmail accounts for this feature to work.

If your chapter or SIG has found other solutions similar to the ones presented above, please respond in the comments and open a dialogue. These are best practices based on my experiences, but that doesn’t mean they are best practices for everyone.