Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He will be writing regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Dear Geek.”
We have a phone tree at work detailing who should call whom to relay important events or cancellations, but hardly anyone picks up a phone call anymore. Technology has to be able to help make this easier and more efficient, right?
Thanks for writing in; you’ve asked a very relevant question with current communication trends. The old phone tree that we all used for communication at work had its place, and most of the time worked well. Except for when it turned into the game of operator and the person before you forgot to check their voicemail, which stated “wear your Halloween costumes to work” day was canceled. I’m sure everyone would enjoy seeing you dressed as Darth Vader at the workplace, but proper communication would have left the costume at home. We can definitely make your phone tree a thing of the past and add efficiency to this needed form of communication.
There are a couple of ways I’ve replaced the phone tree with group texting programs, though your specific solution will depend on budget and technical ability.
The first method is to use an email group to send text messages. It’s a little-known fact that sending an email to your cell number@something specific to your carrier will cause that email to be received as a text message. Let’s say Jenny has AT&T cell service and her number is 867-5309. You could email her at email@example.com, and she would receive it as a text message on her phone. I suppose you could try to write a hit song and she’d get the message that way as well. For real-life usage, you’ll need to use the person’s 10-digit cell number and the suffix provided below to use after their number (for some of our common cell carriers):
[10-digit number] @txt.att.net
[10-digit number] @messaging.sprintpcs.com
[10-digit number] @tmomail.net
[10-digit number] @vtext.com
An alternative method, if you have the budget and don’t want to deal with setting up and managing email groups, would be to use a mass texting service such as Trumpia to accomplish group texting. No need to know the recipient’s cell carrier, and the vendor has easy-to-use tools for managing contacts, groups, and messaging. Trumpia allows people to automatically join your group by texting a keyword to a short code number (which will be a 5-digit number). This vendor also allows people to receive messages via email, if they aren’t into the texting craze. Sending a message to the entire group is as easy and quick as sending any other text message. You can also send a message by logging into the Trumpia.com website and using their online form. Monthly plans start at $225 a month for 10,000 messages (one message to 500 recipients would count as 500 messages), and you are limited to 160 characters, so be short, sweet, and abbreviate where possible.
I consistently use the two methods mentioned in this article in different circumstances, and they come in extremely handy. Be sure to triple-check for typos, as I have nearly sent some embarrassing messages out to 1,000-plus people, thanks to the autocorrect feature on my phone. I hope you enjoy using these ways to streamline communication to a group, and find them to be helpful.