Friday, February 12, 2010

find & use reporters' new tools

Among the best gifts social media's given to communicators: Most of the new tips, tools and tactics reporters are using to reboot their work are out in the open--which means you have within your reach the resources to figure out what your company or organization should be doing to reboot your media relations. From my vantage point, these are among the most useful sources:
  • Read like a journalist: Mashable has published journalists' guides, written by a reporter, to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  Even better, read Nieman Lab, which focuses on the nexus between traditional and social media for journalism. 
    • Then, do these 3 things:  Update your news pages with reporter guides to your organization's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social-media pages....make sure your experts all have social media profiles and pointers to them from your website...share links to your datasets, archives and other online resources on your news or "for reporters" pages.
  • Rethink the journalist:  Some news outlets like USA TODAY have long had "data editors," a combination of reporter, librarian, and researcher.  They focused on finding and analyzing gigantic data sets. Today, the new hybrid is the programmer-journalist.  Here's Mashable's take on how programmer-journalists are changing the news
    • For you to do:  Consider rebooting your communications staff to include a programmer-communicator, someone who has the skills to scour your datasets and archives for resources of interest to journalists--and perhaps build apps to help them access your data....make sure your online offerings include features that mimic what's popular now (word clouds to show what people are searching for or saying in comments or posts, for example), so reporters can see what you're capable of.
  • Start using new tools yourself to understand how reporters are using them:  Here's a Nieman Lab post about a reporter using a private Google Wave to interview other reporters, as a group, for a future blog post.  Haven't yet experimented with using your cellphone or a Flip camera to take video and photos or record interviews? Do it now, and find out what reporters already know. In this Mashable article on 5 essential tools for the mobile journalist, the comfort level of interviewees with cellphones for recording is acknowledged.  From the article: “[I]t was frightening for most people when a full TV crew was on site for an interview,” said Frank Barth Nilsen of, a blog dedicated to mobile journalism. “It’s not so frightening to be interviewed by a man or woman with only a cell phone. It’s small and most people are used to being photographed by a cell phone.”  For more on that score, check out how this journalist uses a smartphone for everything from note-taking to files-on-the-go and reader feedback.
    • One key takeaway: Mobile tools mean stories can be edited and published right on the spot and faster than ever, so rethink your expectations about when breaking news will appear. To help mobile reporters, start working now on optimizing your web offerings for use on mobile phones and devices--and make sure your media training and planning accounts for these new devices and conditions.
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