Organize Your Business’s Most Important Files

Organize passwords, definitionIt’s amazing how many times a new client tells me they don’t know how to log into their website or where to find a high-res version of their logo. “My old developer/graphic designer has all that information,” they tell me.

Employees quit. Developers get fired. Agencies close. You need to have this data together, just in case that zombie apocalypse does happen (and business continues forward, brain-eating walkers be damned).

Passwords aren’t the only information you should have on hand. Press contacts ask for bios and company histories. Graphic designers need high-res logos. Do you have these ready to go at a moment’s notice? Or do you have to contact last summer’s intern to find out how to log into the Twitter account they created for your company? Here’s a quick rundown of the data you need to organize for everyday occurrences.

Time required: approximately one hour, depending on how much data you have and how organized it already is.

  1. Passwords. We’ve created a handy-dandy spreadsheet to organize your passwords. The Excel spreadsheet even includes some of the more popular passwords companies have, such as social media accounts, web and domain hosts (there is a difference, so make sure these are properly labeled), and email.
  2. High-resolution logos. If your company often sponsors events or receives press mentions, you’ll want to have these handy. There’s no sense missing out on a press opportunity just because you couldn’t find your logo! If you work with a designer, make sure to ask for a copy of your logo in vector format, which will allow you to resize the logo exponentially without a loss in quality.
  3. Company background. Have a one-page background prepared and ready in case a journalist wants to learn more about your company’s history. If you begin working with a new business partner or vendor, the background will provide insight that will help them better understand how to work with you. This company background may or may not be different from the one posted in the “About” section of your website.
  4. Bios. As with the company background, you should have several versions of your bio ready to go. I generally recommend that my clients have one that can be used for bio boxes at the end of an article, one for HARO pitches, and then ones of various length for when you’re credited as a board member, guest speaker, etc.
  5. Style and brand guides. Ensure consistency in your branding by creating and maintaining copy and visual style guides. Copy style guides include info on brand-specific spellings and grammar rules (such as whether or not to use serial commas), while visual style guides outline what fonts are to be used and when, the specific Pantone codes for brand colors, etc.
  6. Website instructions. Can’t remember how to change that image on your homepage? Keep a document that contains all the necessary steps for different procedures, particularly those you don’t do that often and so are liable to forget. Better yet, make it part of the developer’s contract that these instructions are included in the development of the website.
  7. Press photos. You’ll want to hire a professional photographer to take care of photos that will be used by the press or in marketing materials, but amateur photography will serve you well for most of your social media needs. For example, I work with a pizza chain that is very active in the community. In running their blog, I always need photos of food, events, employees, etc. Because they add photos to Dropbox as soon as an event is over, I have a ready supply for keeping the blog authentic, without having to resort to stock photos. Types of photos you’ll want to gather and organize include company principals, products, store (interior and exterior), and events.

Once you have all this data together, decide where you’re going to keep it. If you practice safe passwording, you can store some of it in the cloud, such as in Dropbox folders. Just make sure that your passwords are in a different folder from your press files, so that if you grant access to a reporter, you’re not also giving them the keys to the kingdom. And, of course, make sure that wherever you store this data, you’ve got a backup.

Did we miss something? What other business documents do you share with others on a regular basis?

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