VIDEO: Have I convinced you yet?

I just learned about this fun and informative video that explains why you shouldn’t fight the Google+ revolution. It’s totally worth watching.

Thanks to +Lauren Stenzel for sharing this with me!

Google shut [most of] us all down

I knew it was coming. KOMU’s Google+ profile was shut down Tuesday afternoon. I knew it would happen but I don’t regret it at all. This is what it looks like when I log into the KOMU Google+ account profile:

As of this afternoon, it looks like all brands are gone. But here’s the interesting thing. My KOMU News account may be down… but the link continues to work and when I’m logged in, I can see people continue to circle our newsroom. Also, I can continue to add people into circles and read our stream. I know some newsrooms chose to leave Google+ including the NBC News account. I am not sure if the managers of those brands did that on a recommendation from Google or not.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m mad or disappointed. How can I be mad when I’m having so much fun in this new space? KOMU’s account started on July 1st and ended 19 days later. Google didn’t tell brands to get out and stay out until July 6th. Google’s Christian Oestlien posted this message on Google+ asking for brands to stay out.

I won’t complain about the fact Google made this announcement five days after I had my newsroom up and running inside Google+ because this is being considered a “field test” until it opens to the public on July 31st.

I am glad Google offered a form we can use to alert them to our brand. You can fill it out by going to this link. But what I wonder is even if I’ve had the opportunity to experiment and help spread the word about the uses of Google+, how long will it take a little newsroom like mine to get the chance to test a business page? Also, will a business page be a part of Google Apps? How much will we have to pay?

In the meantime, interactive anchor Sarah Hill and I will continue to experiment, learn and find new ways to reach out to our market and beyond. If you want to keep up with us, follow Sarah and my Google+ accounts to see what we can think up.

UPDATE: Apparently Mashable and The Next Web pages remain alive on Google+. I’d love to know why.

Another UPDATE: Christian Oestlien posted an update a few hours after I wrote this. Take a look at what he says is in the future of business accounts on Google+.

Brands and Bloggers

I’m attending the Brands and Bloggers Summit in Chicago today. I’m learning a different side of blogging. I’ve been in this space for years, but I’ve never really learned what the blogging and brand experience is really about.

As a journalist and professor, I realize this is a place that may seem a little unusual. But let’s be honest. This is an economy where we need to be curious and look for ways to be able to pay for my kids dozens of activities and maybe save something once they get into college. Along with my nerd world, I advocate for kids and help parents advocate for their children on Born Just Right. I’m curious and interested in seeing how the brands and bloggers relationship works.

What do you think? Can journalists have side jobs where they have open and transparent relationships with brands?

5 Reasons Why Journalists Should Play with Google+

I truly believe journalists need to be open to new opportunity to connect with communities and learn how to share. Any time a legitimate organization launches a new way to communicate, I’m going to jump. I’m curious. I’m hungry to connect. I want to learn its potential.

That’s what I’ve done inside Google+. It is a fresh start and I think Google has taken the lessons learned from communities built in Twitter and Facebook. Facebook offers privacy while Twitter allows openness. Both established social networks created ways to build lists and groups to help organize your contacts after the social networks were built. Google+ allows you to establish circles from the start. I have built a personal profile and a non-official professional profile for KOMU8. Inside each space I’ve learned what may work for journalists inside this new and evolving space. I have 5 reasons why you should give it a try.

1. Get in on a social media space from the beginning.
Very few newsrooms quickly jumped into Twitter or Facebook. Many are playing catch up. This is an opportunity for journalists to be there at the beginning. I created a KOMU News account inside Google+ because newsrooms are good at sharing. We vet information, we share and people trust us. Why not become a leader inside a new space?

2. Reach out and find your audience.
The Google+ search is improving by the day. As a person, I’ve created circles of professionals and friends who I want to follow. For the newsroom profile, I’ve created regional profiles where I have circled people who live in different towns, counties and work in different organizations. I’m still trying to see what works best, but when someone comments on a newsroom post, I almost immediately know where that person is from because I can hover my arrow over their name and see what circle they’re in. Take the time to search for major businesses, topics and locations that may show additional people from your area who could be added into a circle. As additional people follow the KOMU8 brand, I look at their profiles and add them into regional circles. If a circle for their area doesn’t exist, I create one. I haven’t decided if regional or employment (or both) circles work best, but it’s worth creating regional Google+ scanners and see if it works when there are more people inside this space!

3. Play with hangouts.
We’ve gone live in two broadcasts (and another in less than an hour) so far with a Google Hangout discussion. It’s simple to find people we trust to attend these hangouts and it’s so cool to have found the technical ability to not only feed our computer into our broadcast control room, but also because you can hear it. We haven’t figured that technical challenge out before. I love how new technology pushes us to try new things. Our broadcast hangouts created quite a buzz. So much, I ended up on a local talk radio show talking about the uses of Google+. We’re having fun and expanding the conversation way beyond this new social network. You can read about our Hangouts here and I wrote an earlier post about it here.

4. Encourage followers to circle others from your organization.
Since we are all in this social media world together, once you have additional folks contributing content into Google+, make sure your followers know about it. I’m regularly updating a list of KOMU8 News folks and making sure each person’s profile is links for easy circling. What’s really great is I can just edit the original post and add the latest names. Then I reshare the post to let our followers know I updated it. I don’t have to recreate this post multiple times. (Think of all of those topics you’ve tried to promote again and again on Facebook. You wouldn’t have to rewrite and rewrite, you can just share and share and share.)

In an ideal Google+ world, I would ask our followers to tell us what circles they’d like to be in. I’d love to offer our audience the chance to get extra information if they really like weather or sports or specific news topics like courts, development or politics. These opt-in circles could get live blogs and extra video and images that the average news consumer may not want but our newsroom could deliver it on demand to the appropriate circles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say we’re tweeting too much information about a specific topic or someone on our Facebook wall says they have heard enough. We could tone down those complaints and actually play more content to those who want it.

5. Experiment and ask people what they’d like to do with Google+.
We’re all in this together. Be open and share what you’re learning and ask what others are learning. Share your ideas and include your audience in the learning. My profile is very open and explains what I do at KOMU8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. I also made sure the KOMU8 profile mentioned I’m the wizard behind the smoke and mirrors. The most interesting input I’ve had so far are from people in my market AND others who are just really interested in what KOMU8 is doing online. I’m getting great input and ideas from far and wide.

I don’t own an Android, but I’ve been told Huddles could have great implications as well for journalists. Maybe an Android journalist could let me know what he or she thinks.

If this is the first post you’ve read from me, feel free to check out my first impression post about G+ and you might be interested in this Google Doc where Google fans put together a guidebook with more than a hundred people adding content to it. I think that’s pretty cool.

I was on live TV from my kitchen

My newsroom is preparing to launch a very new show in September. It’s called U_News@4 and we’re planning to make it a social media-based newscast and conversation. Thanks to that show, the show’s anchor, Sarah Hill, and I are trying to experiment on as many new tools as possible on the air. When Google+ came out we both knew this was a great opportunity for us to test out the tools.

Fast forward to last night. Our engineers figured out how to route the audio from one of our computers and share a Google+ hangout conversation live on the air. Here’s what it looked like:

I had a chance to discuss what Google+ is to our viewers and pick up my kids from summer camp without missing the 5pm newscast. How perfect is that?

We have a number of ideas on future uses of the Google Hangout tool:
*Create live panel discussions – Hangout is the new round table
*Create a circle of people we trust and open it up to join in on a conversation we start at the beginning of the broadcast
*Use this as an easier way to allow different sides to debate about a topic live on the air.

What other ideas do you have?

A little sidebar: We already livestream behind the scenes of the newscast on our Facebook page. The Livestream participants were jealous and demanded a mention on the air during last night’s broadcast. I thought that was really interesting.

You can read about Sarah Hill’s experience using Google+ in this MediaShift article.

Gaga over Google+

I’m hooked. I realize I’m a social networking addict (as someone mentioned to me earlier today) but I’m really enjoying my experience on the new Google Plus.

My invite came through less than 24 hours after the network’s release and I immediately jumped in to share invites with others and figure the space out. The first thing you’ll see when you sign up is the profile in Google+ is the same profile that exists with Google Profiles. I thought that was pretty handy since I had already built mine up a while ago. I was also able to add a link of photos that are my “scrapbook” to personalize things up a bit more.

If you don’t have a Google+ account, you can get ready by adding information to your Google Profiles page (which is available for anyone with a Google account). I’ve found most people who have created a Google Profile are able to easily get into Google+ when a user shares anything to their gmail address. The trick is having that Google Profile ahead of time.

When you arrive inside this new network, I recommend creating circles. This is different from the Facebook lists for a number of reasons. First, when you publish, you pick who listens. Facebook allows you to block certain lists from seeing a post, but you have to pick people individually by name if you want to post something specific. (It’s a four step process.) Second, you can think about Google+ like Twitter. People choose to read your posts and you can choose to add them back into your circles or not. If people don’t like what you post, they can stop following you in a circle. If you don’t like them following you, make sure you only post items specifically to your personal circles and not to the public. I currently have 23. Here’s a look at my growing Google circle (which looks pretty when you roll your mouse over it because it shows the images of the people inside):

Along with Circles, another great G+ (that’s the short, lazy way to say Google+) feature is Google Hangouts. When a person you are following in a circle launches a hangout, you see a notice of it on your stream. If you have a webcam and a microphone, you can jump in. As many as 9 people can be in the hangout at the same time. My first hangout was with Google’s Chief Architect of Social Yonatan Zunger. I had noticed him posting really interesting tips early into the release of G+ and I liked reading his updates. I started a Google circle thanks to him. Many Google employees are openly sharing the developments of the social network and I’m fascinated by the openness of the launch. (Which is COMPLETELY opposite with how Facebook rolls out changes.) I jumped into a public Hangout he had launched and heard many Google fans ask questions and talk about what’s ahead for the project. After that, I launched a few public hangouts. It’s fun when people can get their webcams to work. If you’ve never experienced a Cisco Telepresence Center, a Hangout is a poor man’s version of it. When someone in the Hangout speaks, the video window switches to him or her. It continues to do that until you click on an individual person’s image.

You can choose to have a chat box open on the side (which was handy in the Hangout you can see above here because one person couldn’t get his webcam to work). You can also choose to look through and watch YouTube video with your Hangout. When you hop into YouTube mode, the other members have to choose to join in to watch. When you start playing the video, your audio is automatically muted. You have to press a button to talk over it. I love that! One other pro tip: You can use Google Translate to translate chat and live conversations during a Hangout.
My other tip: Encourage people in your Hangout to share their favorite YouTube video. (Mine is Thumbs up for Rock and Roll)

Not long after I dug into G+ , I started to look for ways this can be used in a news. I’ll write up another post about that soon. In the meantime, feel free to visit the page if you’re a G+ member: gplus.to/komunews

Some additional tips for Google+ users:
*If you’re following someone who posts a lot and there’s a lot of comments that keep pushing the item back to the top of the page, you can click on the little drop down menu (it’s a little triangle to the right of a post) and chose to mute it. You don’t have to remove that person from a circle, you can just quiet him (or her, even though I haven’t found a “loud” G+ female user).

*If you’ve ever enjoyed Twitter, Google+ is a similar experience. Think of this as a space where you can say more than 140 characters and interact with people you may have never considered interacting with before. (Back in the day, Twitter let me talk to amazing people because they weren’t getting bombarded like they do now that Twitter is so big.)

*The intro page when you first sign up on G+ is worth the read to see how to get things started. The first thing I did was create circles and that got my stream moving.

*I was so excited when I first jumped into G+, I didn’t consider the number of alerts I’d get in my Gmail. I think I had collected 100 before I noticed. Don’t do what I did. Change your settings early on: https://plus.google.com/settings/plus

Relief through social

The devastation in Joplin, MO had consumed my focus and the attention of my newsroom. I found my connections through social media allows me to offer support, guidance and community like no other.

I took a little time to explain how I harnessed the power of Facebook to coordinate relief efforts. You can read it on MediaShift. I’ll try to write more soon… But my work has priority right now.

#RoyalWeddingGirl

I love Storify. I’ve used it for lectures, capturing class discussions and collecting news. I thought I’d have fun with it as the Royal Wedding Girl meme spread after the big wedding in London. A little flower girl did not like the crowd noise… and her picture is just wonderful. Many fun people played with the picture. I’ve had a number of people ask me to write up a tutorial about Storify – I will work on that soon!

A proud day

I work on a lot of projects. And I never give myself enough time to tell people about it. I realize I should pay better attention to my friend Jeremy Littau. He’s SO DARN GOOD at making sure we see his hard, smart work. Dang it. He’s good. I’m constantly impressed.

So yesterday was a great day for me professionally. I won a regional Murrow award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for a website I built. It was part of a project one of my student, Alex Rozier, did with YouTube and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Alex teamed up with KOMU’s Sarah Hill and our photographer Scott Schaefer to tell the story of the PET Project. The organization distributes body-powered mobile devices to help people who are immobile in third world countries. Alex, Sarah and Scott traveled to Guatemala to witness the challenge of immobility first hand. They met people who struggle every day and the people who are part of the solution. It was beautiful. The stories they told are heartbreaking.

As Alex and Sarah worked on their storytelling, I jumped in to help build a website for all of the stories under the name The Culture that Crawls. The idea was to post additional stories of the struggle and solution while posting the on air stories. I put together the structure and basically fulfilled the vision of Alex and Sarah. I used WordPress and the Thesis template. Scott had taken some really nice still images and I was able to mix those up with the YouTube videos. I’m super proud of their hard work.

I helped in a smaller way in the production of The Culture that Crawls documentary that aired on KOMU 8. Sarah and I worked together to find a way to gather live interaction with our audience members and share what they had to say. It was a really neat addition to a touching collection of stories in Guatemala. Congrats to my co-workers and to other friends who won awards yesterday. All of the regional awards move into the national level. I think it’s especially fascinating to have won in the website category since my site is not your standard news site – it documents a news topic and it beat out a region of traditional news sites. It will be interesting to hear what the judges on the national level have to say about our project!

Following my passion

I recently attended the BlogHer bet conference in Silicon Valley, California. The reasoning for me was to get a better base knowledge of entrepreneurialism while I try to see if there additional ways to use my skills and knowledge in this world. I do a lot at the Missouri School of Journalism and KOMU 8, and it was really cool to have a chance to talk about my passion.

Passion is such an overused word. But it was said everywhere I went during my time attending the conference. When I checked into the hotel, the woman who was getting me the room key asked me what I blogged about. I gave her the list of different blogs I run when she interrupted me:
“What’s your passion.”

I was quick to answer. It’s my website, Born Just Right, where I focus on advocating for my daughter and other children born with special needs. My daughter was born with a left arm that stopped right before the elbow. I’ve written about that experience from the very beginning. It’s an experience that’s helped me grow into an advocate for families of children born with limb differences and other conditions. I don’t know it all but I think I’m lucky to be able to find great stories, get to know wonderful people and I’ve learned that connecting with a community of families who understand is an incredible experience.

I’ve started writing a book about what I’ve learned for the last five years as Jordan’s mom, I created an LLC for my site Born Just Right and I’m working with a few people to come up with a logo. I’m passionate and I’m going to see what it takes to make it move forward.

It’s taken a crowd of friends encouraging me for the last year, but my time at SXSW and the BlogHer event has convinced me this is something I want to follow. I created an LLC, I’m working on a business plan and I’m encouraging my readers to contribute content to the site to help extend the stories and perspective. My mission: To help families understand everyone is born just right. In the end, it would be wonderful to help lead a campaign to change the public’s view of what is considered normal.

It’s exciting since this is something I’m working on outside of my regular day-to-day jobs at the Missouri School of Journalism and KOMU.com. But I think it’s worth it.

Since I’m following my passion, I started looking at other sites that are trying to do good. I am fascinated by LoveDrop. It’s a for-profit site that drops money and assistance to a person, family or organization each month. I’m a member and give $5 a month towards good causes. I’ve been impressed with the positive flow of assistance that’s come out of the site.

I also discovered Start Some Good. It’s a site where you can pitch your visions to do good in the world and possibly find community funders who support your cause. I’m certainly planning to put Born Just Right into the site and see what the community thinks.

I’d love your thoughts and ideas on initiatives that are doing good – be it in the world of journalism or any other genre. I’m certain that helping spread positive in the world is a wonderful goal. I feel very lucky to have the energy and opportunity to give this a try!