in Just Journalism & Tools

Using Google Voice for newsrooms, reporters

Google Voice Phone Booth

A Google Voice phone booth via Search Engine Land

With all of the excitement around this week’s addition of placing phone calls from Gmail accounts and Google’s campaign to spread awareness of its Google Voice service, you’d think it would be impossible to miss these great services. Namely, given that Voice has been around for more than a year you’d think news organizations would have taken to the benefits it would give reporters—and cost savings it could bring a company. Many larger media companies go so far as to buy reporters a work cell phone, which with the advent of Google Voice, is a costly and unnecessary expense.

If your news organization hasn’t tried using Google Voice yet, then why not now?

Voice works like this: You can choose to get a new number from Google for free or you can use your existing phone number with some limitations. Let’s walk the route of getting a new number from Google to show what Voice could do for reporters and newsrooms:

  1. Upon getting a new Google Voice number, a reporter can give out one number only instead of both their desk line and cell phone. For example, their email signature could simply say Direct: Google-voice-number-here.
  2. When they are at their desk, reporters can set their GV number to send to their desk. When they’re out in the field, their Voice number can forward calls to their cell phone.
  3. Users can forget about checking multiple voicemail inboxes at their desk and cell phone. Voice’s voicemail can replace both, with neat features like custom messages depending on who’s calling (like family, friends or sources), voicemail transcription to email (handy for those like me who never actually listen to voicemail) and archived text messages and voicemail for easily double-checking what someone did or didn’t say. Did I mention you may never have to actually listen to voicemails again when you can just read the message in your email inbox?
  4. Use neat features like making calls from your browser or using “Do Not Disturb” to send all calls to voicemail when you need to focus on hammering out that feature story or are bitter with the world—or crazy readers.
  5. Deal-sealers: You can use Google Voice to record phone calls and store them as well as use it to screen calls, as Etan Horowitz points out over at Poynter.

Beyond having newsroom staff use Voice for their own lines, GV could be used to manage a news tips line. For example, that line could always forward to the desk/cell phone of whomever is on duty to answer it. Maybe the biggest advantage of this would be using Voice’s voicemail transription to avoid listening to long, rambling and useless news “tips” from frequent callers or crazies.

Some might point out that their phone system or some other software they use already does most of this. But is it easy to use and free? Probably neither.

Do you as a reporter or your newsroom use Google Voice?

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