Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the view from your local reporter's 'desk'

...could be the yellow lines in the middle of the road, as more newspaper reporters go "mojo" (short for mobile journalist), according to this Editor & Publisher article on the trend. Equipped with backpacks containing laptops, cellphones, video cameras, audio recorders and lots of cables, print reporters have moved increasingly into more immediate filings of stories, augmenting online posts with still or moving pictures or extra audio in what one editor terms "radio-style reporting." In many cases, they file from the scene--and find stories simply by driving past a site, event or landmark. The industry's moved from "man on the street" to "man at desktop computer" and now, "on the road." What does this mean for your organization's media relations--and media training?

  • Stop seeing "print" reporters as a single-medium outlet, if you haven't done so already. Their needs are closer to those of broadcast reporters today. Are you offering them audio and video, as well as print-oriented material?
  • Skip the press kits. Reporters who work from their cars won't be using your printed matter as the basis for a story. Make sure your website content for reporters is optimized to reflect the needs of reporters on the go. Then...
  • Make sure your web site works well on mobile devices. A "dot-mobi" (.mobi) extension on your URL ensures your site is optimized for users who get there on mobile devices, with smaller screens that fit a variety of devices, among other features. (Give your webmaster this set of mobile web best practices as a starting point.)
  • Train your spokesfolks to expect on-the-street encounters, and how to stay alert to potential coverage. In an age when anyone with a cellphone can take still and video pictures and record sound, it's more important than ever to prepare your executives for this widening of media opportunities. (E&P notes that, just like everyone else, roving reporters can be found in wi-fi hotspots like hotel lobbies and coffeehouses, filing away.)

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