A safe space

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. 

20150610_100106

Setting up for the digital producer brainstorming session at OpenWorks Greenville.

Halfway through thr day of brainstorming, we had filled up five giant Post-It notes.

Halfway through the day of brainstorming, we had filled up five giant Post-It notes.

Taking a walk after lunch in downtown Greenville.

Taking a walk after lunch in downtown Greenville.

The Greenville News building, where the compant has been since 1931, will soon be torn down and the newspaper will be relocated.

The Greenville News building, where the company has been since 1931, will soon be torn down and the newspaper will be relocated.

Fall's Park on the Reedy is one of downtown Greenville's main attractions.

Fall’s Park on the Reedy is one of downtown Greenville’s main attractions.

@downtownmelissa captured the crew chilling above Fall's Creek.

@downtownmelissa captured the digital producer crew chilling above Fall’s Creek.

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.)

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