Entries from April 2009 ↓

Making a good impression

I’m about to speak to a group of people attending the regional SPJ conference about making a good impression online. Here’s the slides… I’d love your thoughts about how you present yourself – or how you look at possible employees when you are searching online.

Mindcasting versus Lifecasting

I love to follow trends and as I dig deeper into the many ways to use social media in the news business, the more interesting it is to watch trends in this quickly changing world. The big talk I’m seeing right now is the difference between mindcasting and lifecasting.

Mindcasting is when you broadcast what’s on your mind. This blog post is a mindcast. I’m typing out my thoughts on these two different styles of social communication. A lot of journalism professionals who are looking at the future of the industry tend to mindcast. They share links and tips and ideas about what is happing to the profession of journalism. Lifecasting is broadcasting what you’re doing in your life. If you are at the gas station, you mention how you’re filling up the tank. If you’re in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, you might mention how you’re not looking forward to stepping onto the scale when the nurse calls you into the examination room. A person who lifecasts talks about the day to day activities in their life. Usually you’ll see these two styles in many different forms on Twitter.

That made me think about how I tweet. I thought about it a lot especially after I got blasted by a person who has been in the broadcast profession for a very long time. He complained about how I tweet. He complained about how I tweet about going to the grocery store (which I actually do on a very rare occasion). I told him he could stop following me and not need to worry about my tweets. But he just kept complaining. What I couldn’t get him to understand was the fact that what I write on Twitter is something he can choose to read or not read. That’s the great thing about the microblog experience. You can choose to read and you can choose to not read. It’s much easier than deciding to unfriend a person on Facebook. A Twitter stream is just a Twitter stream. You don’t loose any other connection with that person. If you follow them on Facebook, you also lose all of that person’s contact information. If you unfollow on Twitter, you just don’t “listen” to that person’s little comments – mundane or non-mundane.

The interaction with this person made me realize that I use Twitter with a combination of mindcasting and lifecasting. I have a bunch of followers who seem to be okay with that style… And I had to think about what is appropriate for a journalist. If I was working in a more traditional newsroom, would I tweet differently? I doubt it. I think the items I tweet about show the many facets of my life: journalism, newsroom management, higher education, technology, parenting, parenting a child with physical challenges, owning a dog, running and exercise, marriage, and you know – sometimes it’s about grocery shopping. It makes me real. It shows the reality of being a journalist who is more than just a journalist. We’re all like that… Or at least, we all try to expand our life beyond work.

I’d be curious to hear what you think – in a mindcasting or lifecasting way.

So many things to talk about

As I get closer to the end of this year’s RTNDA conference (soon to become RTDNA – Radio Television Digital News Association), I am leaving with a lot of topics that I would like to think about more.

First, I was confronted by a long time journalist who basically yelled at me for my Twitter presence. I was told that he had no interest in when I go to the grocery store and that I should get out of his face with all of my updates.

I told him that he can stop following me and he’ll never know another special moment in my life. But that didn’t seem to calm him. I got him pretty bothered and it made me wonder if more of the older journalism leaders have this kind of attitude even though I’ve offered to explain how this tool actually works or attempts to work with journalists. So I shook it off and moved on. There is a super simple solution if he wanted: Just don’t follow me and he’ll never worry about a single thing.

Another issue: Tools. I love to talk about the tools I use to get great work done to connect with my community or to enhance the tools I’m already using (like Facebook and Twitter). I need to write a full post with video and explainers on the most popular tools out there.

Also, it would be great to get a better idea what news directors and other hiring managers want from job hunting journalists. Do they want to see a DVD of work? Will a website suffice? (Probably not since there are still newsrooms where the internet connection isn’t fast enough) I’d like to interview more managers out there and get a better idea of what’s really going on.

Another random thought – RTNDA is the first conference I’ve attended this entire year where I felt like I was working with people who have a common goal: Help our industry. There are people who actually feel the way I do without feeling that need for constant self-promoting. There are people who want to help the broadcast industry continue to grow, learn and succeed. I’m relieved. I was starting to think I was the only naive person out there who just cared a lot and wanted to help find solutions and change for our industry!

Social Media for Broadcast Journos

I attended a session with Chip Mahaney (@ChipMahaney on Twitter) during the second day of sessions at the RTNDA conference.

He focused a lot on Facebook and Twitter. It was great to hear what he had to say and really reminded me how important it is to focus on the social networking tools that people already use. (I say that often – it’s so great to hear someone else have similar thoughts) You can target people who are in your newsroom who already know how to use these tools and have them help you administer the products. They’ll teach you stuff you probably didn’t know.

Facebook is savvy with its product pages. Not only does it give you the opportunity to promote your newsroom’s brand, you can get creative, promote and track the activity on your page. This is something I haven’t taken the time to do yet but recently got the support of my station to move forward and really work on building a great identity on Facebook. What’s even better, Facebook has written up how to do it. It’s very smart.

Worried about snarky comments? Facebook requires less maintenance on the snarky level because people have to use their names and maintain their true personality on that site. It’s a great point. You will see fewer snark because you can’t slam a newsroom anonymously. Your reputation is important on Facebook… so you probably won’t muck it up just to leave negative comments on a newsroom Facebook page.

A big discussion came up over employees using Facebook at work. Everyone should have access to social media. Former news director and current MultiMedia Concept Group’s multimedia executive Joe Coscia said it really well: “This is the voice and pulse of what our market is saying.” He wants to hire younger people who have the smarts and know the technology. That’s what rubs off onto the rest of the organization. His big question (which is everyone’s question) is how is this going to help the core business. This isn’t driving the same margins. Maheney mentioned newsrooms should develop a written guideline for your staff on how they should manage their time. “I don’t mind Facebook use – but I want to know they’re on there promoting the company on company time.”

The next portion of the discussion to use your Twitter accounts to engage your audience. Some sites have a cache — there’s a delay in posting!! (Could be 3, 5, 10 minutes late!) Your logo, information can pop up right away using Twitter.

Chip showed how Tweetdeck works, how to search topics, follow trends and understand some of the basics of hashtags. Twitter isn’t a big deal because it is a website – what is great is the power of the site. Every post is open and viewable by anyone else. It’s powerful as the messages travel everywhere and anywhere. You can track trends with Twitscoop and other tools… Twitter gives you all of its content and it gives anyone a chance to harness that information. All of that content is free. These tools help organize the millions of tweets a day.

Assignment editor could create searches to keep track of information in your area. It’s portable. It’s quick. It’s informative. So dang simple.

Chip is going to offer advice on tech tools later on today at RTNDA… So he wrapped up with some general tools and advice.

How To Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. Chip used this book as a great example on how to use social networking. So he tweaked the advice into today’s terms.

1. Realize the social networking world does not revolve around you or your station. It’s everyone’s home! You don’t have a tower. You’re not
2. Listen before you speak. See how people talk to each other. Figure out the terminologies. Ask questions. People love to help. But listen first.
3. Make your friends feel special. (@reply by a person’s name) A big personality who replies or comments and call someone out by name, it’s special to them.
4. Ask lots of questions.
5. Proactively manage the conversation
6. Bring something to the table that the online community values.

You as a leader in a newsroom can implement these tools:
1. Be online. You don’t have to be the biggest consumer, but you need to be out there with a genuine interest. You need to show that it’s important and you care.
2. Learn to keep score. This is for any kind of online work. Check the metrics on your online properties. Hold yourself accountable for raising traffic month to month.
3. Start small. Move fast. Start with one thing – one tool to connect with your audience. Maintain it and keep it moving. Do something new again next month. One month, get onto Twitter. Next month, get onto Facebook. Do seminars to teach the culture. Take advantage of the social networking experts in your town. (Chip’s town has meet ups where
4. Exploit your expertise. If it’s weather, communicate really well about weather. If it’s investigative reporting, do it.
5. Learn a new skill every month. If you can do it, your staff can do it.
6. Experiment. It’s OKAY to fail, as long as you “fail fast” and learn. Don’t let it linger out there. See what works and move on. Set a time limit and decide if you will move on or keep it going.
7. You can’t stand still. Learn. Go to Mashable and learn.
8. You can’t try everything at once
9. Hire people who know more than you.

Your staff needs to know how you stand on social networks. Be open and honest.

Let’s Talk Twitter at RTNDA!

I’m preparing for a big presentation with two of my former colleagues at the Radio-TV News Directors Association meeting in Las Vegas. Dr. Bill Silcock of Arizona State University and Kelly D. Hicks from KCTV5 in Kansas City will join in on the fun. We hope to introduce Twitter to people who may have heard about it but haven’t taken the step to use it.

I think there are all kinds of different ways to use Twitter – I hope we can teach those who are interested the most efficient ways a newsroom and a journalist can use this tool.

What are ways you use Twitter for yourself as a journalist or for your newsroom/brand. I love hearing and knowing all of the many different ways. That helps me guide and teach future journalists how to think in as many directions as possible!

In honor of Las Vegas, I want to share a moment I experience on my flight as I arrived into town. One of our flight attendants happens to be an Elvis impersonator… And he and the rest of the crew put on a show. I was pretty far in the back of the plane – but I hope you can enjoy the fact that we got a performance and we lit up the aisle using the flight attendant alert lights.

UPDATE: The three hour presentation and one-on-one help time was awesome. I hope anyone who attended (or wish they had) will leave questions and comments here. The conversation doesn’t have to end with this session. To help with that, here’s the slides (and more that we never had time to show) from the presentation:

Assessing the journalists of tomorrow

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I love journalism. I love teaching journalism. I love finding ways to help the industry. I love finding the best ways to send my students out into the world of journalism with as many tools in their bag. That’s why in the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time guiding my students through the process of building an online portfolio site. I’ve also grown towards guiding my students through social networks and helping them develop a personal brand.

Some of my first lessons: Get online. Build a blog and name it something that includes your name (notice how that is something I already do?). Get onto @jenleereeves) You want your name to be searchable. That is another thing I recommend my students should do. Google themselves. It will give them an idea of what they need to do to boost their name. Some of my students have no problem. Their work at KOMU is the first thing you see. But others have very generic names or other people have succeeded in getting their identical name up there in the Google ranks. Those are the people I really work with. They need to blog and leave comments and link to other blogs. They need to get involved and connect with others online. I also recommend everyone gets a LinkedIn account. It’s a professional venue to share and talk solely on a professional level. Facebook is a wonderful place to connect, but it is not created to focus on professional interactions! I also recommend my students build an online portfolio. Many of them are doing great things using free tools like Weebly, WordPress and Wix. I recommend they use free video compression tools and post their video using beautiful tools like Vimeo or Motionbox. Once those sites are created they need to make sure that URL is connected to all of their social networking identities. I’ve seen graduates get jobs just from the viral nature of forwarded emails where one news director likes what they see but can’t hire to her or she forwards the links to friends they know who are hiring. I had one student who didn’t send out a single resume over the mail. She just sent links. I think that’s fabulous. I hope to see more.

Honestly. I just hope to see my students get hired!

I try to keep track of helpful tools that let journalists collect and share their work online. Feel free to visit this page and let me know if you see any other tools in my list. The more I can collect, the easier it will be for us all to do great work without worrying about the technology getting in the way!

UPDATE: One other tool that really helps in getting sites noticed by Google: Use Google Analytics! It helps you see who is visiting your site AND it brings Google to visit your page more often!

How many communities are too many communities

The most amazing part of my fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute is how it has given me so much access to people who know how to build communities online. For a couple of years I have beaten my head on the wall trying to figure out why I haven’t been good at this process.

The simple fact: I have too many jobs. As a professor, newsroom manager, fellow, grad school advisor, technology and policy committee member, technology faculty council member… mom, wife, dog owner, home owner… I could go on and on and on. To build a community I would need to shuffle priorities and lighten my load.

This is a big reason why Smart Decision ’08 didn’t take off as a community. It’s why I’m not pushing too hard to publicize my current economy project. I had initially thought a collaboration of traditional media content that is aggregated into a single site would bring enough viewers to develop a community. After working with Jane Stevens and watching her project grow, it makes more sense to develop the community and supplement it with traditional media aggregation. Jane is working on creating a structure of web-based health communities that focus on specific topics. She’s also helped launch a journalism web community called the RJI Collaboratory. These communities need time, attention and commitment.

While I have tried to develop my Money Commons site, I have also taken all of my lessons learned to KOMU. I have changed the way we use Twitter. We have launched a social networking community. We’re trying to find better and more effective ways to use our Facebook page. I have had a chance to share what I’ve learned about social networking to media outlets and many more faculty and students than I evercould have talked to if I was working exclusively out at the television station. I’m so darn lucky for this opportunity. I hope to have better ideas on the steps to take towards expanding my Money Commons community. My time with RJI is coming to a close, but I’m going to continue to look to a future of helping the Missouri School of Journalism prepare for an unknown but exciting future.