A major challenge in any opposition research cycle is keeping all team members on the same page. Distributed teams across states, time-zones and offices complicates matters. At Nesbitt Research we’ve found a way to keep all our members up to date: #Slack.
Slack is what you would get if Twitter and an IRC channel had a baby and it went on to earn an MBA. It’s accessible on any computer with an internet connection, Android and Apple phones, and even has a desktop application that is comparable with Mac and Windows machines. When it comes to opposition research it does four things very well:
Slack Lets You Organize a Whole Cycle’s Worth of Campaigns Into Dedicated Channels.
When using e-mail or Skype to talk about multiple campaigns with the same team members it can be hard to keep track of what campaign each communique specifically refers to. But #Slack lets you keep all your communications focused, on topic and in one easy-to-reach place.
Here’s how it works: You set up a channel for your campaign and invite team members to join it. Any messages, posts , document uploads, links or other content uploaded to this channel will be chronicled and saved in that one place. This lets a small team that works on multiple campaigns together keep track of what everyone is up to. And if you have members who you don’t want to see everything you can create a private channel to keep them at an arms’ length.
What’s more, you can set up multiple channels for each campaign: such as #campaign_comms, #campaign_report and #campaign_news. Why would you want a channel dedicated to news? Well…
Slack Lets You Integrate Other Applications
Slack lets you connect third-party applications to any channel you set up through integrations. You can link a twitter handle to a
campaign_news channel, for example. You can link MailChimp to a channel and have an indexed archive of your daily updates.
It takes a bit of time up-front, but in the grand scheme of things setting up a channel dedicated to news can easily save hours through the course of a campaign. Twitter handles, Google Alerts, RSS Feeds; they can all be added to a dedicated and searchable channel in #Slack.
The only negative part about setting up a news channel is setting up multiple integrations with the same application. In order to link a twitter handle you have to go through the whole integration for every single twitter handle, RSS feed and Google alert. But in the end it’s worth it because…
Slack Is Extremely Searchable
You can scour the entire history of a #Slack channel by using a few simple commands.
Let’s say you remember reading something a few months ago about how Candidate X took a stand for abortion access, but you don’t want to wade through a new Google search to find it.
Well, by typing a few commands to narrow your search, you can grab it right out of your #campaign_news channel. In the search bar type:
in:#campaign_news has:link abortion
Boom. There you are, all the stories that popped into your campaign specific news feed on the topic, in order. The great thing about these searches is that as you type the commands #Slack will auto-complete based on the most common and practical applications.
Furthermore, you can star important messages or links when you see them. Then using the tag
has:star will let you search through any message, document or story that you deemed important.
But #Slack isn’t just about archiving, it’s also about keeping everyone in contact. That’s because…
Slack Lets You Communicate With Team Members in New Ways
Slack let’s your team stay in contact at all times: whether an attack ad just dropped on your team and you need to marshal evidence for a counter, or you want to fact-check an important debate in real-time #Slack puts everyone on the same page.
In each channel you can draw the attention of specific team members by using their handle. These are similar to Twitter handles and let you ping people with questions and concerns. Or you can use the handle
@channel to alert everyone on a campaign to important news. And if they have the #Slack app on their phone, which they should, they’ll get the message immediately.
But everything doesn’t have to be public. #Slack lets team-members send private messages amongst themselves and they’ll just as stable and searchable as anything sent to the group at large.
Finally, the program uses read-state synchronization which is a multi-syllabic way to say something simple: your computer knows if you see something on your phone and will indicate this on your other devices. So, after a long-and-hectic day at your desk, you won’t have to sift through a whole day’s worth of messages at 9:00 at night when you have to respond to some emergency or other.