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Communication Methods

Email

If possible, generate a list of team members and email addresses before the season begins. This list could be maintained by the team captains or team leader. Try to include students, mentors, and school leaders when appropriate.

Work to communicate only important information and try to avoid overuse of the email, or members will begin to ignore the messages because they don’t think there will be important information in them.

Slack

Slack is a great communication tool that can be used to set up multiple message rooms for members and/or team mentors.

One advantage of Slack is that message rooms can be restricted to specific members within the team, allowing for mentor-specific or sub team-specific chat rooms.  This allows for less cluttered messaging between members.  In addition, Slack offers private messaging, making communication between individuals on the team quick and easy.

More information about Slack can be found here.

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to communicate with team members, parents, and others in the FIRST community. Many teams use twitter for quick, instant communication.

One advantage of twitter is that it is instant and easy for others to “follow you”. If someone has a twitter account, they can follow you through twitter. If they do not have a twitter account, they can follow you via text messaging. To follow someone, just text ‘follow NAME’ to 40404 in the US. For example type: “Follow @cyberblue234” to the number 40404 to follow Cyber Blue.

Twitter can be a very effective communication tool for:

* Information on meeting times and locations, especially last minute changes or cancellations.

* Letting others in FIRST or with a robotics interest know what you are doing.

Keep in mind that twitter is instant, and you cannot delete or “call back” a tweet once it is sent!

Hashtags (#xxxx) are a way to flag your tweets so that people who follow special interests can see your tweets, even if they are not following you. For example, if you use the hashtag #omgrobots, anyone who is following that hashtag will see your tweet. Examples of robotics related hashtags are #FIRST, #firstweets, #omgrobots, #robots, #makeitloud

Website

A team website is a great way to communicate information about the team to the outside community. Articles, photos, new updates, and other information can help others learn about your team, your school, your sponsors, and FIRST. Links to other websites will let you provide access to content without hosting it on your site.

Many web hosting sites are low cost. You will need to buy a domain name (such as “clickFRC.org”) and then maintain the name.

There are many website development tools that make creating and managing your site an easier task than it was just a few years ago. This site is managed under WordPress and there are many similar options that are free or very low cost.

A team website also allows some team members to develop specific media/communication skills for a possible future career.

A team website can also host team forums, where team members can communicate information in a different level of detail.

Remember to UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE… Your website is only as good as your last post.

Team Blog

A team blog is another communication method to tell about your team. Others subscribe to or follow your blog to see the updates. Many blog sites are free. WordPress, twitter, blog.com, and  blogger.com are some example of hosting locations.

Updates, by creating posts or entries, usually cover an update for a day or special event. A blog is often a way to tell a story over several days.

Many FIRST teams have team blogs to document and share their build season progress for others to follow along.

Newsletters

A team newsletter is a great way to communicate with your sponsors and team supporters. The newsletter can contain information about the team, specific students, special activities, upcoming events, or a season wrap up.

A newsletter might be a simple word document or a high level document with photos, articles, and  specialized layouts. They key is to make sure it is easy for the reader to find the information.

Consider saving your final document as a “PDF” (Portable Document Format) before sending. This gives a few specific benefits, including an often smaller file size for emailing, the ability for almost anyone to open and read the document (PDF readers are free downloads), and low risk of a formatting change occurring due to different versions of the software the document was created in.