Teaching Tout, Twitter and Pinterest at the media lab

The last few weeks at the media lab have had me on the road traveling to newsrooms in Oakland and Wayne counties, and working with individuals at the media lab in Ypsilanti, located in Washtenaw County, teaching Tout, Twitter and Pinterest.

Since Digital First Media entered a partnership with Tout and we started using it in newsrooms across our footprint, from the East Coast to the West Coast, there has been a big push to get everyone trained — journalists, freelancers and the public. In the last week, I’ve trained Michigan sports reporters, Heritage Media-West reporters and Oakland County residents on Tout using three different presentations tailored to their specific needs.

I really enjoyed putting together the presentation for sports because it motivated me to look at what reporters were producing on Tout, checking into their successes (with top views coming from Detroit Lions reporter Paula Pasche and Detroit Tigers reporter Matt Mowery) and looking at what they could be doing better, such as writing better descriptions that are more Twitter friendly with mentions and hashtags, and narrating their videos, instead of just shooting action. I also suggested how their audience could get involved, creating their own Touts and feeding their videos into a widget on our sites.

I had similar advice for the news staff in Washtenaw County, but geared their presentation more toward breaking news and coverage of community events, and motivating their readers to get involved by shooting their own Touts and sharing them by using an established hashtag for breaking news, and individual hashtags specific for each community event.

We have found that more views come through widgets embedded in articles on our websites, rather than plays through Tout.com or the Tout app. It makes sense since you have a built-in audience already interested in the news, sports or feature story, and looking for complementary coverage. So, I walked the reporters through the process of building a widget, which takes less than a minute. It’s very simple and there really is no excuse not to do it. It’s definitely more efficient. It also delivers a better presentation with a video player, and provides more thorough coverage, bringing in video from a variety of sources using a hashtag.

I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for Tout training for readers of The Oakland Press. We had about eight people sign up via our Facebook events page and Meetup, but twice as many actually attended as a news article online and in print enticed even more people to check it out.

Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, helped me with both presentations.

I think we make a good team. We had a PowerPoint that encouraged readers to start using Tout and Monica took it a step further by actually setting up the hashtag for them to use that will feed directly into the Tout widget on The Oakland Press home page. It was inspiring to see that many of the participants had either downloaded the Tout app before coming or did so shortly after they arrived. Many asked questions and were genuinely interested in contributing community news through short-form video. The fact that Tout provides video in real time and can be easily shared on social media makes it very useful.

While I feel very comfortable teaching Tout, I struggle a little bit more with Pinterest, but I am becoming more versed the more I use it. I’ve been working regularly with two women from the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor, who are interested in creating a Pinterest page to share photos from the group’s volunteer activities. Before they asked for my help, I had started a Pinterest page of my own, but I wasn’t very active. Now, after exploring on my own so I could help them, and then actually setting up their page, adding boards and creating pins, and then showing them how to repin, I’ve become more comfortable with it. There is much more for me to learn about it and teach them, and I am enjoying the experience. Check out their boards here and let me know if you have some suggestions for them. They will be returning Friday for more help.

Linda Tubbs of the Professional Volunteers Corps works on her Pinterest page.

Linda Tubbs of the Professional Volunteers Corps works on her Pinterest page.

At The News-Herald in Southgate, I’ve paid two visits in recent weeks to work with newly hired reporter Anne Runkle. Anne had worked in the industry during the late 1980s and through the mid-1990s, and needs some catching up to do with digital media. So, we started with Tout and Twitter training.

I’d eventually love to see her graduate to creating timelines, audiocasts, locator map embeds, polls and data visualizations. But we’re starting with building an audience on Twitter, crowdsourcing and creating video to complement her storytelling.

I am curious, if you are a journalist, which social media tools do you use and why? Please leave a comment and answer my poll.

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