I wish I could have live-tweeted the digital producer retreat Wednesday at the Open Works co-working space in Greenville, but that would have put an end to our private, invite-only “safe place.” A lot was said that couldn’t be repeated.
One thing I did tweet was favorited by Post-It Notes because we made a joke about the giant stickies we started filling up with our strengths and weaknesses. We noted more weaknesses than strengths, which was fine because that’s what we were there for: to recognize and improve our digital production experience for ourselves and our audience.
My boss prepped the six-person team with a few speaking points and told us, “You don’t really need to bring anything except your good ideas.” Of course, I started a list right away and came prepared with nearly two pages of ideas separated into quadrants based on topic.
“She’s got like a whole notebook,” one of the producers noticed. “This ain’t my first rodeo,” I laughed.
My ideas included more short video pieces on timely topics like man-on-the-street interviews and also adding live coverage (of sports, meetings, concerts or festivals) through social media apps like Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat. There’s potential for a regular series like “What’s on your desk,” that would give readers a sneak peek into the newsroom. Companies are using Snapchat to deliver breaking news or tease new content. With filters, time, geolocation and drawing capabilities, media can provide a real-time, raw human connection with readers. I also continued to advocate for a newsroom Instagram account as another way to connect with readers through behind-the-scenes photos from around the newsroom especially. Lots of brands use Instagram not as a way to get clicks on the website but to let people in on the news through a different format and to get more personal with readers. Instagram can also help the newspaper find happenings around town or breaking news.
For Facebook, I thought it would be a good idea to post Facebook-only video; for instance, what didn’t make the cut and short recaps from reporters about their stories. I also suggested us asking our readers for content using hashtags like #tellasheville or #tellcitizentimes that we could run in print or online. USA Today does a great job of curating user generated content (UGC) with hashtags like #tellusatoday and photo galleries for the top reader photos of the day.
We ended with discussion of not “thinking too much like a newspaper,” and how some reporters are still worried about inch count instead of writing “the story that it’s worth.” All in all, our more Post-It Notes were full of creative ideas and I feel rejuvenated to bring more consistency to the online production (and more embedded tweets.)