February 5, 2018

This article originally appeared in Try This! — Tools for Journalism, our newsletter about digital tools. Want bite-sized news, tutorials and ideas about the best digital tools for journalism in your inbox every Monday? Sign up here.

I’ve been trying to set up a meeting with someone for 54 days.

That’s 51 back-and-forth emails, 1,264 words (including 24 thankses) and 10 rescheduled dates and times. I don’t even remember what we were supposed to talk about anymore. 

But I think I found a way to solve it. I’m going to take a cue from Joy Mayer, a frequent Poynter (and everyone else, apparently) collaborator, and start using Calendly to schedule my meetings.

Calendly is an automatic scheduling tool. Set your availability, grab a link and share it with anyone who wants to meet with you. They pick the time that works best for them and Calendly sends you both invites. It’ll even add the meeting to your Google calendar (or whatever else you use).

Mayer said it saved her from the “hell of ‘hey, we should meet.’”

When I reached out to Mayer to chat, she sent me a link to her Calendly page and told me to "grab a time." I scanned through her available blocks and picked a day and time that worked for me. Then Calendly sent me a Google Calendar event and a helpful summary of her contact information. It was ridiculously easy.

“I can’t even believe how I ever scheduled meetings,” she said. “I’m going to look at my calendar and transcribe to you when I’m available and by the time I get back to you, your availability has already changed.”

The tool offers a surprisingly robust suite of options for free (unlimited invites, integrations with most major calendars, notifications, personalized links) but Mayer uses the paid version (eight bucks a month for customizable notifications and reminders, group events and pooled availability options and more). 

I’m going to use the free one but I’ll consider coughing up the dough if it finally makes this unschedulable email happen.
GET SOCIAL: It’s hard to gauge how popular Instagram is. There are the numbers, sure, but it still has that “it” factor that makes it irresistible for millions of users. It’s also hard to gauge because the features for business accounts, like the one your newsroom might have, are pretty minimal. That’s changing. Instagram just launched a handful of new features for business accounts, including the ability to see and reply to public mentions. 

BUT NOT THIS SOCIAL: You know what doesn’t have an “it” factor? Buying Twitter followers to make yourself seem more popular. Richard Roeper, a Chicago Sun-Times film critic, was knocked for it after a New York Times expose showed that a website called Devumi had sold millions of fake followers, including some to journalists and celebrities. 

+ Let’s say you have a bunch of fake followers. Maybe you bought them yourself, maybe you didn’t. How do you get rid of them? I wrote about how to identify fake followers and remove them from your followers list. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. 

PROTECT YOURSELF: Once, when I suggested to a room of journalists to think more about online security, someone stood up and said that there’s no point since the government can see everything we do anyway. That’s too cynical for me. So here’s Silo, a browser so secure that it doesn’t even exist on your computer, sends pixels instead of real information and that vanishes after each session like an ill-advised Snap. 

PRINTABLE INTERNET: Between all of Snowfall’s illegitimate children and the interactive timelines and the many, many breathtaking infographics it’s getting hard to be truly innovative on the web. Which is why Matt Thompson’s latest project has me buzzing. It’s printable fiction (it can't be read online) and it’s old-school and subversive and smart. But what else did we expect from one half of the duo who predicted big tech’s takeover of the news industry way back in 2004 with Googlezon

VIDEO STAR: Sometimes an app comes my way and though I have no idea how to use it for journalism, it’s too cool not to share. Simply put, Worm is a slow-motion app. Users record videos and share them with other users, who can press their screens to make any video slow down. Sports reporters, what do you think? 

LAST WEEK: How familiar does this sound? Three years ago, one of your best reporters wrote a piece that had everyone agog. Though the post-publishing excitement is long gone, some recent event makes the piece feel more relevant than ever. What do you do? My advice: Repost it on social and see what happens. Here’s how I mine Poynter’s archives for stories just like this. 

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of Poynter.org. He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
Ren LaForme

More News

Back to News