The Story Team Weekly publishes two stories a week, a new story and one from the archives. To keep up with this weekly publishing schedule with a large team of volunteers, coordinate social and team events, and keep our staff running smoothly we need effective tools. We’ve tried various software and apps with mixed results. As you develop your team, here are a few things we’ve found essential to our efforts.
- Need: A program to aid project management and assignments
- Our Use: For project management, we create a new project for each story, conference, bootcamp, film assignment, or special event where a list of tasks is appropriate. It’s simple to create a list of tasks and to assign each bullet to a particular person, due on a particular day. We upload documents and image folders for each of our written stories, making it easy to track which artists are on time in submitting their assignments. Writers will often leave a note or remark in a comment section for an uploaded file. It’s easy to send an email blast to to specific people assigned to a particular project. We’ve used it since the beginning of Story Team, and recommend you try it out.
- Need: A shared document to track stats for all stories, and to log where current stories are in publishing process
- Our Use: We have a master spreadsheet that is shared only with the staff/leadership, and this document tracks the history of all stories we have published, all stories where we paused production, all current stories, and who worked on each project. Stories in different stages of production have different colors (including stories that we started but then decided to pause).
- We have another spreadsheet that is shared with our whole team, including volunteers. This document shows the latest assignments and gives each artist the ability to accept or decline their assignment. The artists have access to the story details and contact information for the subject of their story.
- Need: A tool to craft and send a weekly email publication.
- Our Use: We use it weekly for our weekly story publication Story Team Weekly, but we also use it for our storytelling publication, Story Team Field Guide. MailChimp allows you to have multiple email lists and to easily send to segments or to a whole list at once. We also use mail chimp to send updates or prayer requests to our team of volunteers. It has a very clean look and is easy to work with (a couple things Story Team loves). Here’s the header image of our weekly email below:
- Need: Centralized Communication
- Our Use: We started using Slack as a test instead of using a group text and email thread for staff communication. It’s been really helpful to be able to direct message someone, message the whole team or several specific people at once, upload documents, merge with Twitter, Mail chimp, Evernote, etc. We created a “dashboard” channel where we upload our task lists and update our team throughout the week. We have a “general” channel and a “random” channel for general announcements and questions or random inspirational and funny things we find. You can even create your own staff emojis (maybe we have too much fun with it sometimes). We recommend trying it out. You can see a few of our channels in the image below on the left, and an example of a direct chat on the right.
- Need: Way to create tasteful invites to events
- Our use: All event communication. We like how we can have multiple lists for different kinds of events (some of our events include a ladies brunch, all volunteer party or gathering, team specific training, etc). A tiny snap shot of our Christmas party invite is below.
- Downside: Managing contacts in Evite: we haven’t fined tuned the merging of contact details with our primary roster in google docs and mail chimp yet.
- Other options: We’ve seen other teams use Paperless Post.
The Austin Stone Website
- Need: A way for our church to access stories of what God is doing within our community. A place to log and collect our stories.
- Our use: We primarily use the website to post our weekly stories, latest films, and photo essays. The website is also the primary place where we send people to submit their story lead. Since discontinuing printing stories in our bulletin, we created the Story Team Weekly as a way to get each story out to our church body and beyond. This spring, we launched Storyteam.org as a way to get stories and storytelling resources into the hands of others who want to learn and stretch themselves in the art of storytelling.
As you try new tools, you will find some that work for you and some that don’t. And that’s okay. We’d love to hear what works for you.