From old favorites to new game-changers, these five brand publishing tools have been our favorites in 2018.
L&T is a small startup, but we’ve seen considerable growth in the five years since we were founded. Most of that growth can be attributed to the talent and hard work of our leadership and our larger team, but we also couldn’t have gotten where we are today without the help of some truly innovative brand publishing tools.
Without this software, communication would be a nightmare, our workflow would be out the window, and we wouldn’t be able to create some of our most groundbreaking work. It’s especially important to stay organized, connected, and creative when you have teams working in different time zones.
From the oldies but goodies to the new favorites, here are the tools what we love (and actually use) in our New York, St. Louis, and Bilbao offices:
Trello is our primary task management platform, and each of our clients has a private Trello board tailored to their specific needs. We’re obsessed with Trello for two reasons: first, it integrates with many of our other favorite tools, including Harvest, Google Drive, and Slack; and second, it’s incredibly intuitive.
Within a “Trello board,” L&T creates and manages Trello cards, which each correspond to a project. The cards can be edited, commented on, given due dates, and moved between columns as appropriate. Trello’s columns correspond with a project’s status — “drafted,” “edited,” “pending review,” or “published,” for example. Our team members, staff writers, and clients can all easily log in to Trello and track a project’s progress, facilitating accountability and transparency.
At L&T, our communication needs to be quick, relevant, and respectful of our team members’ very limited time. Before Slack, team members would mostly communicate via email, but that would result in huge group email chains that would pile up in the inboxes of people who no longer needed to be in the loop, distracting them from work that demanded their full attention.
With Slack, we’re able to create groups and channels for specific purposes, bringing together only the group of people relevant to the topic at hand — instantly. For example, we have channels for each of our clients, so only the team members working on that account will see those messages. Segmented communication prevents information overload. We can also integrate Trello and Google Drive with Slack, which helps us stay on top of tasks and revisions in real time.
3. Google Suite
Google Drive is a classic — it’s always one of the first things we mention when we’re asked about our favorite tools. It’s the ultimate way to work if you’re trying to get things edited with a lot of stakeholders. Our writers complete assignments in Google Docs before passing their work on to the editing team; the team then submits the work for client review, and clients can leave comments either in the document or on Trello.
Writers can view changes in the document’s revision history, making Google Docs a valuable professional development tool, as well. We also use Google Drive to keep us organized — we have a folder of past deliverables for each client, and each of our team members and staff writers has their own Google Sheet detailing their task list for the week.
Here at L&T, we’re obsessed with digital storytelling. Multimedia digital stories grab readers’ attention and incorporate the great work of our writers, strategists, and graphic designers. A digital storytelling platform can simply give an article a little more life, or present a fully-fledged multimedia experience with audio, video, and interactive elements. But our favorite tool for quick and easy digital storytelling is Shorthand.
At face value, Shorthand is very “what you see is what you get” — it’s definitely the quickest and easiest way to make a digital story on the fly. The user-friendly platform doesn’t require any coding experience, but if you have developers on your team (like we do), they can help you to push Shorthand to its limits with custom animation and dynamic data visualization.
We use a variety of content management systems (CMS) for our clients, but among CMS options with integrated functionality, HubSpot takes the cake. HubSpot’s primary focus is inbound marketing methodology, making it invaluable for content marketers or companies trying to drive traffic to their sites through inbound tactics.
HubSpot equips its users with tools not only to launch inbound marketing initiatives, but also to create a cohesive inbound strategy. HubSpot asks you to create personas based on the specific audience segments you’re trying to reach. Once you’ve created those personas, HubSpot helps you create content plans tailored to those personas, prompting you to focus your brand publishing efforts on those segments.