Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Get smart, communicators: Use curation tools to help reporters, experts, partners

Communicators don't just tell stories to the outside world. More often, our versions of curation and storytelling involve pulling together background for a reporter or prepping a speaker or interviewee. And in some cases, we tell our stories when we're networking or looking for new job opportunities. To do this, we used to have press kits, briefing books, piles of documents, honking email attachments, portfolios and other cumbersome ways to collect what we needed to brief and source a story. What would you use today to share information, background, leads and sources? I'm seeing more options than ever for public and private sharing of sources and knowledge in several new curation and collection tools. Here are some of my emerging favorites:
  • Evernote: You can collect all sorts of source material in an Evernote notebook, then publish it for anyone to access, email it to a particular user privately, or grant access invitations via email to a group of people. That makes it perfect for backgrounding reporters, prepping your spokespeople, communicating with a panel of experts before a news conference, sharing materials with your communications counterparts at partner organizations before a big announcement, and much more. You can include any medium from photos and video to text and audio, and placing source material in Evernote makes it searchable--which saves time on all sides. I'll just add for my reporter friends: Giving them access to notebooks in the cloud is preferable to emailing those honkingly huge attachments that often don't make it past their system filters. You can offer and rescind access at any time, too--but play nice with this feature. Here's an open invite to communicators: If you make a sourcing notebook in Evernote and want to share it here so we can all learn, I'll feature it on the blog. (I'm an Evernote affiliate; click the elephant "clip" button at the end of this post to find out how to set up a free or premium account.) Check out Evernote's "Getting Started" guide, and look at how your entire organization can get Evernote with a sponsored premium account.
  • Storify: This service is still in beta, although you can sign up for invites to join. Storify makes it easy for you to collect string from Twitter, online videos, photostreams and more. Then you can publish, share or make it easy for others to embed your "story." Here's how I'm thinking communicators can use Storify:  to chronicle a breaking or emergency story as it unfolds for sharing with reporters; collecting coverage of an issue, conference news, or a particular expert at your company or organization, for sharing with reporters or publishing for your members, employees or supporters; letting your grantees, volunteers, donors, or partners share their side of a story. (Storify lets you appoint contributors and editors for each story.)
  • Dipity: I'd be running to Dipity, which helps you create interactive timelines, if my company or organization had an anniversary coming up or had played a key role in another bit of history (for example, the 30th anniversary of the first reports of AIDS in the Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report is coming up). The options for communicators are many: Want to show the significance of a step your group's responsible for, or background reporters on the difficult but little-known history of your issue? Want to show a progression, the backstory, some context from history--recent or ancient? Setting the record straight or establishing provenance? Want to show your career progression and achievements, you shooting star? This is the place. The Dipity blog highlights this timeline from Steuben Glass to get you started.
  • Projeqt: Here's another service you'll need an invite for, at this time. Projeqt calls itself a storytelling platform, and is highlighting its compatibility with social services and with mobile platforms--another dimension for your curation and sharing. It was developed initially for a website, to be a Flash-free option that worked across many platforms; now it's billed as a portfolio option for creatives and a presentation tool for brands and businesses.  In that vein, communicators might want to use it, variously, to prep experts and speakers; as a creative resume/portfolio tool to showcase their own work; for internal presentations; or to share a range of visuals with reporters covering a story. (And that's not counting how you might use this for external storytelling direct to your key audiences.) The mobile option's appealing if you are briefing or prepping far-flung sources or folks on the move. Here's what it looks like:

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