Thursday, December 16, 2010

Director's perspective: Clouds for communicators

(Editor's note: From time to time, I ask communications pros to share perspectives here on tools they're using and how you can benefit from them. Joe Bonner experiments early and often with social media and tech tools, so I'm glad we can learn what's caught his attention. Bonner is the director of communications and public affairs for Rockefeller University in New York City.)

I love clouds, and I'm not referring to the 1969 Joni Mitchell album, though I love that, too. I'm talking about data clouds, websites where you can store files and retrieve them no matter where you are -- whether it's at work, at home, or in a coffee shop -- as long as you have an Internet connection. Before the advent of cloud services, I would routinely email files to myself if I needed to work on a document outside the office, or transfer the files to a USB storage device. My current favorite cloud service, Dropbox, makes things a lot easier for me, and has also saved me from getting caught without an important file on at least one occasion. 

The principle behind Dropbox is simple. You install the Dropbox application on your computer and create an account. Dropbox acts like folder on your hard disk. The beauty of Dropbox is that, every file you add to your Dropbox folder is synced on each computer that has the Dropbox app installed. Dropbox files are also retrievable from your account on the Dropbox website.

If that weren't cool enough, Dropbox also has apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. And this is what saved me recently when a reporter called me after I had left the office -- just as I was about to hit the road for a five hour drive -- asking for a copy of a press release for a story he was on deadline for that evening. I had saved the document in Dropbox, and I was able to grab it using the Dropbox app on my Android phone and email to the reporter within a matter of minutes.

There's another Dropbox feature that I think has great potential for communicators: Dropbox allows you to create a shareable link to any file in your account. A lot of us are creating media -- video, audio or images -- to help us tell our stories, and if that story is an embargoed research paper, Dropbox makes it easy to create a link to that can be embedded in a news release instead of attaching a massive file. Just make sure that you share that link with trusted recipients. And if you do try  this, be sure to read Dropbox's advice on keeping your Dropbox files secure.

Subscribe to For Communications Directors, my free monthly newsletter, which features content before it appears here on the blog.  Then head over to don't get caught on Facebook, where you'll see new social media trends, technology and communications issues as they crop up during the week--and great conversations with our community of communicators.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice overview of Dropbox, Joe. I find I use it more and more, especially to move photos and videos to journalists.