3.5 Tools for Busy Communicators

A version of this first appeared on CUinsight.com.

I’m always on the lookout for useful tools. As a department of one, I’m short on time, but have plenty to do. Here are three (plus a half more) of my favorite tools:

Wordmark.it: For finding the ideal typeface.
Don’t let anyone tell you fonts aren’t important. A great typeface is what holds your marketing materials together. Wordmark.it allows you to see how a word looks in all the fonts that are installed on your computer. See them on a white background, black background, all lowercase or all caps. This is a great way to find a new font, or isolate a word that you want to stand out in your materials. Here’s one I did using “credit union.”


  1. Canva: For designing simple graphics.
    I am not trained as a graphic designer, so I don’t know all the tricks of the trade. I don’t use Canva all the time, because it does have limitations. I use it for quick social media graphics, flyers or simple invitations. Upload your own photo or choose from free backgrounds, photos and tons of graphical elements. Here’s a quick graphic I did with one of my photos.Canva
    3. Colorhex.com: For finding the “right” colors.
    Starting a design from scratch? Find hex colors, RGB, tints, complementary and monochromatic colors, plus more.

    3.5 Feed.ly: For managing information overload.
    It’s not really a tool…but a way to wrestle your your crowded inbox. Feed.ly is a news aggregate that allows you to quickly glance at all the news important to you. Use the RSS feed to customize what you want to see, without jamming your inbox with a ton of emails.And these tools are all free…what are some your favorite tools or websites?

3 Concepts to Remember in a Crisis


This post was originally published on CUinsight.com.

“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”
~Henry Kissinger

The very definition of crisis means something unplanned. Crisis communication is the scary part of public relations and communications. It’s chaotic. You don’t know all the details. People might be scared. And others want answers.

I recently attended two sessions that have focused on crisis communication. They each focused on different aspects but there were three common concepts that seemed to keep appearing.

Response Time.

Acknowledge immediately and regularly. This is crucial. We used to have a couple of hours to respond, but not anymore. Social media has shrunk that time to 20 minutes or less. And time constraints will continue to shrink. Your organization needs to be on the proactive side of this, not the reactive. The last thing you want to happen is rumors and misinformation flooding social media and the news.

Build bridges.

Build bridges through relationships and through information.

Relationships: Hopefully you already have the bridges built to media professionals, city officials and other community leaders. Have you built those bridges to your neighbors? Your tenants? Your members? Even your competitors can step forward in a crisis.

Information: This is simply bridging information together. This works well when using social media. Here’s how it works: You post the latest information on Twitter or Facebook. Your next posts should either repeat the information (if there’s nothing new to say) or add new information to what is already known. The idea is that if the public were to scroll through your streams, they would have a good idea of what is happening, and how you are responding.

Review your plan.

Sounds like a no brainer, but when was the last time your plan was revised? Do the people listed on your crisis team still work there? Do you have templates already made up for all the scenarios? Most likely you have messaging about a weather disaster, a robbery and maybe even an internal embezzlement act. What about a possible data breach? Think of all the events that could be considered a disaster and draft talking points now.

What’s in Your Communications Disaster Kit?

Originally written for posting on the Kansas Credit Union Association website.

Severe weather is upon us, and we have all heard the importance of having a personal severe weather kit with water, batteries, flashlight, important documents, medication… anything you need in case of a weather disaster.

But what’s in your communications disaster kit? What do you need in case your credit union is affected by severe weather? What if your branch or office is damaged by a tornado? You would probably want to spread the word to your members and the media. Would you be able to find everything you need quickly?

Here’s a few items to get your started:

Press release templates.

You don’t want to be re-creating the wheel when you are trying to disseminate news quickly.

Media contact lists.
Make sure you have names, phone numbers, email addresses and social media accounts handles.

You never know when someone might need one.

Contact information of leaders in your organization.
In times of a disaster, reporters and others might want to talk with the CEO, President or Board Chairman of your organization. Mobile phone numbers and email addresses are important.

Passwords to your website, social media accounts and other important websites.
Even if your work computer is unavailable, you can still keep your website up to date if you can log in from another computer. If you have an app on your smartphone, make sure you have access to your credit union’s social media accounts. Sometimes social media is the only way to inform the public.

Important information about your credit union.
Fact sheets, number of branches and their phone numbers and addresses, number of members, staff or volunteers, field of membership information and historical information is a good start.

Consider putting the above items as well as other important documents on a thumb drive, in case you are unable to log into your work computer, or you lose power at your location and have to use a different computer.