Remember when clubs used to publicize telephone hotlines as a way of keeping members informed? Dial it up and get a voice recording of the latest news. Wondering if that event was still on due to weather? Call up the hotline and hear a short recording left by the event registrar before heading out. Web and email all but replaced hotlines, but let's not throw away the phone just yet. There's a way you can have your hotline without giving up your privacy or sanity.
As much as we push our communications to the more efficient email, we often neglect the more effective telephone. It's no surprise: publish your telephone number on the Internet and you can be guaranteed people will call and text at all hours. And when you eventually pass the baton to a new event registrar, those calls will follow you into retirement.
Today's Pro Tip is a modern alternative to offering your personal phone number as a public contact number. It's a service I've been using to offer phone and text support for timing and scoring operators using our live timing and race results app RaceHero. It's totally free and called Google Voice:
Google Voice is a supercharged virtual phone number that can simultaneously ring all your phones at times you specify or log a voicemail and send an email transcription. You can set it to never forward so it functions like a 24/7 voicemail system with helpful information for participants. Perhaps most importantly for younger generations who eschew email, you can send and receive text messages. By publishing a Google Voice number instead of your personal number, you keep your privacy and keep the calls always going where they belong: to the organization.
Even better, do you have someone who helps with the effort of putting on an event? Google Voice will let you share your public number with a team by adding them as one of the phone numbers that receives calls. Laughing because you don't have any help? If you don't have systems that allow you to split the workload, you never will. Like a shared email inbox, this is another way to divy up the responsibility.
Setup takes 5 minutes and you can download apps for Android and iPhone. You can search for easily remembered numbers (e.g. 572-RACE) in your local area code. Don't be afraid to publish a modern text and phone hotline to engage more participants, get started at http://www.google.com/voice