Saturday, 28 February 2009
Hello. My name is Justin and I am a Twitterholic.
Yes, 2009 may well go down as the Year of the Twitter. Whether it's because of the influence of celebrity micro-bloggers like Stephen Fry @stephenfry or Jonathan Ross @wossy, or it's the articles in the papers, or perhaps just good old word of mouth, one thing is clear - Twitter is the hottest thing in social networking.
A number of my friends dismiss Twitter and say they don't understand it but to me it's simple to see the secret of its success. I actually don't buy it as a kind of micro blog. To me, Twitter is mass text messaging and this means it has many uses. From a peek into the lives of celebrities to breaking news and information to a joke you've just heard to, well, anything that can be said in 140 characters or less. This is the other positive. A message can be sent instantly, by web or phone. It's so simple.
All the major news networks, eg @SkyNews, appear to be using Twitter now to send news alerts. Radio stations like @lbc973 use it to inform about guests and other appointments to listen. 5 Live has trialed a travel news service @5livetravel and check out this list of radio presenters on Twitter.
So, whilst subscription numbers to such accounts (you become a 'follower' in Twitter land) are fairly low right now, don't turn your back on Twitter. I'd suggest anyone in radio signs up and looks at how it's being used.
I decided to use Twitter to connect with potential new clients and came up with an idea to post a radio journalism tip a day in February. They're re-published below. I've asked my followers to suggest if I continue or not.....join in the debate at twitter.com/newsleader
1. Think in pictures. Whether u r at the scene of a story or describing TV pics, in the words of the great Roy Walker, say what you see!!
2. Great news presenting and writing are inter linked. Replace words you wouldn't use everyday - aim for conversational but credible.
3. Don't give green light (oops) to clichés. Tributes pouring in, rubber stamped plans = lazy and won't help make a conversational read.
4. Try to practice out loud before the broadcast – it’ll highlight trip up dangers or part that just don’t sound right.
5. Relevance is critical. Ask why does this story matter to my listener today? Add the most useful and user friendly information.
6. Finding it tough to concisely tell a complicated story? Explain it to the colleague next you. It’ll help.
7. Edit together opposing arguments as one continuous clip. It’ll help emphasize the disagreement.
8. Fed up of boring cue in lines? Let the interviewee introduce herself and edit their sound bite directly off the back.
9. Think about using wild track more regularly. It could help tell a story better than a sound bite.
10. Challenge yourself to break out of same old bulletin model of copy, clip, copy, clip etc. Vary structure. Make it more dynamic!
11. Suggest the best work is replayed at the start of the morning meeting. It’ll share ideas and reward the journalist.
12. Gain PR for your scoops! Offer quotes to local and national press on the condition your radio station gets a full credit.
13. Sell your on-line coverage: “You can see pictures of this…” – “There’s more detail on this…” and “You can read the background to this…” are lines you should be using.
14. Remember your listeners are thousands of extra reporters on the streets. Appeal for eyewitnesses but check legitimacy.
15. Invest in time to speak to important contacts. Do it as much as you can. The more contact = the more stories!
16. Use music with caution. A lively bed will not improve a dull package. Use music to set or change a mood or pace – and when that’s done, ditch it!
17. Don’t be afraid of silence. It can say a lot at the scene of a story. It can also allow a listener to picture and consider what’s happening.
18. Explain to reluctant PRs that a written statement isn’t ideal for radio – you need audio, so you need an interview.
19. Plan what you want from an interview and write 5-6 questions to get there. Still, be prepared to follow up interesting answers.
20. Before the interview, second guess answers to better challenge your guest.
21. Warm up a nervous interviewee with an ‘easy’ starter question/s.
22. Bidding for a hard to get interview? Can you easily syndicate within your organization? If so, you can boast the maximum audience nos.
23. Does your format allow for VIPs to take calls from listeners? It’s a unique dynamic, with often surprising questions and exchanges.
24. Consider the idea of a guest News Editor for the day. It could lead to interesting content and publicity.
25. A reporter’s microphone isn’t dressed without a branded mic flag. Free marketing. Suggest a prize bounty for each logo spotted in the press and TV.
26. In city or regional newsrooms, ask each reporter to bring in their local newspapers each week.
27. Everyone in the newsroom needs regular coaching and feedback. News Eds, make time for it. Journalists, demand it!
28. Make time for medium term forward planning. Ask, what are the issues and stories the news team wants to own in the next quarter?
29. Consider adding Twitter to your platforms, for real time alerts. Encourage presenters to get personal and do their own Twittering!