Social TV: Making The Most Of Planned And Unplanned Interactions

Social Awareness Comments Off on Social TV: Making The Most Of Planned And Unplanned Interactions
Jan 162014

Social TV is storytelling. While just 16 percent of Americans are on Twitter, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are on Facebook, according to a recent Pew Study. Social media users are vocal viewers that are likely to influence their friends and family to tune in. We want those viewers to watch and engage in real time and make live TV a different experience than they get reading the news online – which is where interactive TV comes in.

The interaction can be approached two ways — planned, pre-produced segments; and unplanned moments such as breaking news.

The planned:

Social TV sings when it is a produced element of a show. It should be part of the story telling — not tacked on. You can incorporate viewers into a real-time poll, or asking viewers a question to answer, think of how to engage the audience and take your show into the live TV “you snooze you lose” category.

These stories can be mini elements worked into a package with set-up or more involved. One of the more-in-depth interactive stories we’ve done was our story on the bystander effect. We sent our promotions producer outside in various situations — moaning in the cold as a well-dressed person, again in a hoodie and jeans, and then to steal a bike at a transit station (with UTA’s permission). As the package aired, we asked questions to our audience, i.e. “how long will it take someone to help him?” and “how many people will stop the bike theft” and engaged with them in a conversation and showed their comments in real time.

The story was promoted as an interactive over the weekend and generated a ratings lift over our lead-in — and a lot of people buzzing about how they were anxious to see how people reacted. Our Facebook reach numbers jumped during the story as well.

A fantastic example I saw of this was a Today Show #OrangeRoom segment with Tamron Hall. They had talked about electric baby cradles — and Tamron did a live demo with a crying baby (!) to show whether or not they worked. That’s better than any tweet on air — making TV work for its medium.

The unplanned: Social media becomes your friend and your enemy during breaking news. Photos pour in — but no one wants to be the news station that gets punked and puts false information on air. Set a plan in place now that everyone can follow to verify what information is reliable. Once information is verified, and you have permission to use it, take it to air as user generated content. Let it help you tell the story in real time, as it happens. We have done this in breaking news — especially in situations when we want to break in, and we have confirmed information, but our satellite truck or chopper just hasn’t quite reached the scene. It serves as a bridge.

Here are some tips:

1. Learn who you can trust:  I’ve made a twitter list of good social citizens — people that tweet us often with real information, or PIOs that I can trust. From there, I can look at the people they follow and interact with. (This works well with national and international events — start every big event with a Twitter list) 2. Use the information that social media gives you. Look at timestamps and to see the genuine intrigue in people’s messages (are they more shocked by what they just witnessed — or do they seem more interested in having their picture be on TV? It should be the former, not the latter). If it comes through Facebook message, get more information. Better yet, if it’s a good picture, get their contact information, and get an interview.

3. If it is a large event, compare photos. In 2012, we had a horrible wildfire season and every time a new wildfire would start, we would get the same picture of a famous Utah landmark with a fiery sunset behind it. With reverse Google Image search, we were able to trace it to a local photographer who had taken it two years previous.

4. Inform your newsroom. Don’t forget that if you discover something is false, to not live in a vacuum. Tell people, so that all of your producers know and the content doesn’t make it on air.

For a great report on verification and breaking news, read this Q&A with Jennifer Preston of the New York Times.


Natalie Wardel @nataliewardel is the Social Media Director for KSL in Salt Lake City.  Tweet her with questions and/or comments.


How to tease on Twitter: A key secret revealed!

Social Awareness Comments Off on How to tease on Twitter: A key secret revealed!
Oct 162013

A Philly anchor’s recent twitter tease about a real life shootout and the hit show “Breaking Bad” has set off a lot of discussion.  In this case, I am going to look more closely at creative ways to tease on Twitter, without potentially crossing the line. Fact is, teasing is not most journalists strong suit as it is.  We have a series of articles dedicated to help write teases for newscasts.  Now let’s talk Twitter.  The 140 character limit makes it even harder to get the message across clearly.  But I am about to reveal a secret that shows, Twitter teases are actually less difficult to pull off.

Teasing Guidelines for Twitter:

Coming up – BIG no no

Human Link

Remember Images


The number one mistake I see in Twitter teases is using the term “Coming up at.. (show listing)…” as a first line.  Never start a tease this way, period.  Even on Twitter.  It is a throwaway cliche line that really turns off the audience.  You need to get to the sell, which frankly is the reason you want to tease the story.  That is your first line, you can say when to watch after that.

The sell of the tease, is the human link, or what some consultants and managers call the WIFM or viewer benefit.  So, if there’s a character in the story, introduce that. If you found ways to save viewers a ton of money, say that.  If you have kick butt video say that.  The best part about Twitter, is there’s an intimacy to it.  You frankly do not have to be as ‘colorful’ a writer as you do in newscasts. (Here’s the big secret reveal!! ) People on Twitter, are looking for interesting information.  The expectation to be entertained is not as much of a given.  They are looking for facts, and people’s reactions to those facts.  The human link needs to be simple and direct on Twitter.  A lot of the work is already done for you.  People are seeking out your information, instead of you desperately trying to draw them in and keep them.  Think long and hard about that one.  It really fundamentally changes the way you need to tease, and should eliminate some of the pressure to ‘relate’ the story to a trend (or dare I say, a TV show).

Also, many visual TV journalists forget to use the simplest, yet most effective technique: an image.  I am guessing I am far from alone, when I say the number one way to draw me in on Twitter is to include a picture or a link to something.  My natural instinct is to click to learn more.  Don’t forget the very famous line “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  I encourage using images to build your Twitter fan base anyway.  When you tease, pictures are exceptionally effective because few people do it.  Show a scene setter.  Show the person you are centering the story around in an action shot.  Heck, showing an image of a document has suckered me in before.  A shot of a document would not work for a TV news tease.  But it can work for a Twitter tease.  Again, that’s because people on Twitter are actively seeking out information.  You do not have to sell as hard.  They want to learn more, see more and experience more.  Provide links to images, and you will sell your stories and/or newscasts.

Finally, remember that the best way to link up with Twitter followers is through hashtags.  Use them in teases to draw more people in.  Look for “local” hash tags and use them when you can.  I really suggest using established hashtags more so than creating a unique one for your tease/tweet.  There are people who mine these hashtags each day looking for information on particular topics.  Again, they are waiting for you to deliver the information, a captive audience!  Use that.  If there are no good local hashtags for your market, talk with your managers and possibly promotions about creating some that your station can consistently use to draw in audience.  These hashtags are very effective marketing.  Frankly, they’re often more effective than any clever tease you attempt to write.  Consistency is key with the hashtags.  They are a simple trick with potentially huge gains.

So now you know some guidelines for teasing on Twitter.  The secret is out!  Twitter followers want to hear what you are going to showcase.  They want information, pictures and links.  They are actively seeking them.  Link an image, or a human element and your tease will work.  No need to rack your brain to really “suck them in.”  Twitter followers are a captive, willing and, frankly, enthusiastic audience grateful for the chance to read what you have to say. So be straightforward and you will win big fans!


LinkedIn: How to guide to finding sources and exclusives.

Social Awareness, Source Building Comments Off on LinkedIn: How to guide to finding sources and exclusives.
Sep 122013

For years, LinkedIn has just been an online placeholder for my résumé. I didn’t really think about it much and rarely went on there.

However, two things recently happened to change my view of the site.

The first was when my news director assigned me to do an investigation into privacy concerns regarding drones and Ohio leaders’ efforts to snag one of the nation’s coveted slots for a drone testing program.

Although GE’s jet engine subsidiary is headquartered in Cincinnati, aerospace is not something that gets a lot of coverage in my market. So when it came to looking for sources in the drone industry (its executives prefer to call them “unmanned aerial vehicles”), I was starting from zero. One day, I thought, “I wonder if I can find someone to interview by searching LinkedIn?”

Within seconds, I found an executive at TechSolve, a company that does consulting for the aerospace industry. I e-mailed her asking if someone there was doing any work on drones. She said her CEO would love to do an interview. It turns out, he’s one of the major players behind-the-scenes who’s trying to bring a drone-testing program here.

The other thing that made me start respecting LinkedIn more was a conversation with software developer Dave Hatter.

We were doing an on-camera show-and-tell one day for my morning show consumer segment and he had LinkedIn up on his laptop. I couldn’t believe how he was going on and on about it. So I asked him why he likes it so much. He showed me how LinkedIn isn’t just for your résumé anymore. He calls it a very powerful search engine for finding people and connecting with them. He even lands clients and speaking gigs this way.

“One of the key facets I think most people really overlook is the incredible power of the search engine in LinkedIn,” is how he put it to me recently when I asked him to do an entire segment with me about how LinkedIn can help those who are still unemployed find work.

The thing is, his insights are also great for broadcast journalists looking to make connections to move up the market ladder or, as I demonstrated through dumb luck, finding a great source for a story.

The key, he says, is using what LinkedIn calls its “Advanced People Search.”

For instance, in trying to find someone to interview in the aerospace industry, you could type “aerospace” into the keyword box and your station’s zip code in another box further down the left-hand side of the page.

I just re-enacted my search as I’m writing this. The executive I found earlier came up again. And I just discovered that if you click “similar” below her name, other aerospace industry executives and workers come up on another page. This will be really helpful when you get that dreaded “I’m on vacation” out-of-office reply from your first contact.

But say you’re not working on a story. You’re trying to build your personal brand. Hatter uses LinkedIn for that, too.

“There are over a million groups on LinkedIn,” he said. “Some groups have literally hundreds of thousands of members in them. By joining the group, you now have opt-in permission to share with that group.”

Don’t spam them, he warns. Instead, pass along articles or video links that would appeal to other broadcast journalists or television executives.

Hatter says LinkedIn limits you to 50 groups. That’s probably more than enough for most of us, though there are some LinkedIn power users who sound pretty upset about the cap.

You also want to post on your home page on LinkedIn. If you haven’t been to your account in a while, log-in and take a look. LinkedIn has basically created a professional version of Facebook. After getting Hatter’s advice, I try to post at least once a day on there and allow LinkedIn to send the message to my Twitter followers, too.

Finally, be careful with the recommendations you give others — and especially the recommendations you choose to publish on your profile.

Hatter is also a hiring manager and says it takes an authentic, from-the-heart recommendation on a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to make him take it seriously.

“If I go in and I give you a recommendation, you are going to show-up in front of my entire network as a recommendation from Dave,” he said. “Everyone in your network is going to see that I recommended you. But if I say something like, ‘Matt is an awesome guy,’ does that really carry any weight? And I think a lot of recommendations are pretty shallow and pretty hollow like that.”

Hatter also explains, in an extended clip we put on our station’s website, how to jazz-up your “headline” and profile info to stand-out from the crowd. The headline is really important because it’s what hiring managers see first in their search results, along with your profile photo. And please have a profile photo! I can’t believe how many people in broadcasting don’t put their photo up on LinkedIn.

Hatter told me having no photo is a quick way to get overlooked when a television executive is doing her own “advanced people search” in an effort to fill a job quickly.

In such a competitive industry, we need all the help we can get. So why not put more effort into LinkedIn? After all, it’s free. (Hatter advises against paying for the premium version.)

You can bet the other 90 TV anchor/reporters in America who look just like you will be using LinkedIn. So you’d better, too.


You can connect with Matthew Nordin on LinkedIn and Twitter. He’s an investigative reporter at WXIX-TV in Cincinnati.  And if you want to learn more about how to use this site, check out the group LinkedIn for Journalists (, which offers free tutorials.

Required to Tweet? What to discuss.

Social Awareness Comments Off on Required to Tweet? What to discuss.
Aug 272013

For many journalists, Tweeting and posting on Facebook is now a mandatory part of their job.  In fact a news director in Atlanta recently told the Press Club there that  “any journalist who doesn’t do social media isn’t worth their salt.”  The pressure is certainly on and journalists are certainly feeling it.  I have received several emails asking, “What should I talk about?”

So let’s address that question.  What do you talk about?  We have published a few articles on what not to do, and what to look out for, (see  You Tweet, I Can’t Believe He Posted, and Wanted a New Job) so it’s time to focus on what is acceptable.

Here are some basic things to start tweeting and posting:

  • Interesting tidbits about your day
  • Your hobby
  • Relevant extras about your story
  • Confirmed information that impacts audience

First let’s get this very important question answered.  Many journalists ask, “Should I offer any personal information?”  The answer is: Some.  But keep it the type of information you don’t mind your boss, mother and minister or rabbi reading about.  The first two bullet points about what you should tweet and post address appropriate personal topics.

When I say tweet interesting tidbits about your day, I mean little moments.  Maybe someone said something thoughtful to you.  Maybe you read a fascinating article that really got you thinking.  Say it, or rather, tweet or post it.  Maybe a long lost friend posted a fun comment on your wall.  Mention that you loved hearing from that friend. Show images about your day as well.  Show a shot of the full coffee cup you are about to drink. Mention the new recipe for a breakfast burrito.  These simple things create real connections with other people.  You do not have to spill your guts, to form a bond.  Sharing simple moments are better.

Which leads to another great discussion point, your hobby.  One of my favorite journalists I follow is a ballroom dancer who loves the performing arts.  I enjoy the tidbits, that she is heading to a competition, or enjoyed a performance.  It takes me out of my day-to-day routine and teaches me something new.  I also enjoy a twitter account that mentions “This Day in History” type of information.  The trivia is interesting.  A former boss of mine is an avid motorcyclist.  I enjoy seeing pics of his newest Harley and reading about his latest ride.  Again, simple human connections.  If you love to cook or watch movies or have a favorite TV show, you will make “personal” connections with fans on social media.  Just keep the sports comments clean.

So, now how do you appropriately mention your work?  Just teasing or putting up a link to your latest story or newscast is not enough.  Try and provide some relevant extras.  A journalist recently covered a mission event where people came from all over to see doctors and dentists.  He simply showed images of people waiting, and talked about how the images touched him.  For example, he said one man seemed to look into his soul. He said he had to snap a shot of a baby girl because the bow on her head was so cute.  I have seen journalists snap behind the scenes images of doing interviews, breaking down the cables from live shots, and showing their muddy shoes.  I have seen journalists mention that a story gripped them in some way.  That he/she learned an interesting new fact today.  Some mention what they hope to follow up the next day on a story.  The list goes on and on. Take the viewer into the story, with a paragraph, a photograph or a statement in 140 characters.

Finally, if you have confirmed information about a breaking or developing news event, put it on your twitter stream or post it to Facebook.  Show that you are working the story.  Just put up confirmed information.  And if you are lucky enough to have a station policy guide, adhere to it.

The most important thing to consider, when determining what to Tweet or post is that you want to create connections with your followers.  So you do want some variety.  Use common sense, stick to topics that have mass appeal and remember, your minister or rabbi is likely reading what you write, as well as the boss and your viewers.  Be true to who you are as a journalist, and a person.



Hurling insults. How to cope with social media attacks.

Social Awareness Comments Off on Hurling insults. How to cope with social media attacks.
Jan 022013

When a morning anchor in Wisconsin delivered an editorial as a response to a Facebook comment about her weight, I watched journalists speak overwhelmingly in support of her and her station’s decision.  Now, a meteorologist in Louisiana has been fired for her responses to Facebook comments about her hairstyle.  Once again journalists started buzzing on Twitter about how hard it is to take viewer insults, especially on social media.

No doubt this is a very difficult part of the job.  During the shootings in Aurora, I read a local reporter’s Twitter feed daily for updates.  I noticed a viewer scold the reporter for sending out tweets asking for hook ups with families of someone in the theater at the time of the shooting.  The viewer said the timing seemed harsh (this was during the first day after the shooting).  The reporter replied, that he/she was just doing their job and the viewer did not have to follow the feed.  I also saw a viewer call out a morning anchor for too many inside jokes on Twitter with other morning anchors.  This anchor replied, too bad, if you don’t like it don’t read and stop trying to ruin the fun.  And that there are other options in town, take one.

I understand that viewers can sometimes be out of line.  I also understand you may get insults by the dozens at times.  But I have to say, reading these responses can really undermine people’s view of you.  The burden is on the journalist to take the high road.  Keep in mind, by virtue of simply being on TV, you are a local celebrity and are held to a different standard than someone who is not.

So what do you do?   The simple answer, thank the viewer for the input and decide if there is any merit to their comments.  If there isn’t, let it go.  If there is, be grateful someone made you aware.  But remember the viewer is the customer, and attacking a customer, in any kind of public setting, is just bad business.  If the insult is very personal and offensive, let management know.  You should have a running dialogue with your ND on how the station handles these things.  In some cases, the station takes care of the response.

The fact that these insults happened on social media, takes the discussion to another level.  It is one thing to call a person back, on the phone, and have a moment of weakness by saying something you should not.  It is quite another to do it in a social media forum where it is public and you cannot take it back.  That response, even if you delete it, is essentially forever findable.  Bottom line it is in writing and therefore more permanent.  Not the place for a moment of weakness.  That’s why you need to communicate regularly with a manager about these responses.  If your management team will not discuss options with you, send only “Thanks for the suggestion.” then let it go online.  Viewers and potential employers can only take the comments at face value.  Make sure whatever yoiur response is, it’s the representation you want to follow you throughout your career.

I have almost no doubt you have heard plenty of talk about the importance of being social media savvy, especially when job hunting.  But is your account truly ready for potential bosses “checking in?”  Now that I am also researching and in some cases recruiting journalists for jobs, I am finding that social media accounts are a gold mine of information.  A lot of it you may not even realize.  Until now.

What prospective employers are looking at.

  • Your personality
  • Who your friends are
  • Who your friends are not
  • Potential liabilities

Prospective bosses are reading your tweets, FB postings and any other social media sites they can find you on.  If they get your name or a resume reel, they immediately hop online to check you out.  Count on the fact that they will read what you say from then on, regularly.  So if you complain that all the other women in the newsroom hate you, make fun of viewers, or gripe about everything under the sun, you are sending a clear message that you are a pain in the a#! and hiring you should be avoided.  I am not saying that every tweet has to be sunshine and roses.  You can be real.  You just don’t want to come across as bitter, neurotic, high maintenance or just plain difficult.  That will hurt you immensely.  Also, do not make your twitter account your outlet for your hobby only.  This is really meant for major sports buffs.  If almost every tweet is about your favorite team, consistently over several weeks, you won’t be taken as seriously. (I am talking to news people here, not sporto’s.)  Potential bosses are looking for people who provide thought provoking conversations on a variety of subjects.  They are looking to see if you have the ability to network, and how you interact with your “audience.”

Also, you should be aware that potential employers cruise through your list of friends on your social media accounts.  They monitor which groups you hashtag with regularly on twitter.  The reasons are fascinating.  In some cases, they are checking to see if you are already a Twitter pal with people in their own newsroom.  Maybe you are buds with another reporter/producer/anchor candidate up for the same job.  It is a way to see if you have “friends” in common.  Then they know of ways to check you out, besides that reference list you provided.

They also check to see who you are not friends with.  Do you tweet with coworkers at all?  Do you seem to only talk to fellow Giants or 49er fans?  Do you have broad appeal or are you a one subject wonder surrounded by “followers” of the same thinking?  By reading your friends list, a manager can figure out a lot about how well you integrate with all types of people.

Finally, they look for potential liabilities.  Do you tell off the viewer that balls you out on your Twitter feed?  Do you talk about getting drunk last night?  Do you use the f-word or make crass comments. (Yes, this includes posts on any personal accounts.  Assume they will get access one way or another.)  A lot of GM’s and ND’s have interesting Twitter identities you would never guess, just so they can check on unsuspecting employees and/or potential hires.

Now that you know what potential employers are checking out, make sure you give them a clear look at all you have to offer.  Show off your personality, networking abilities and interaction with your viewers.  Your social media accounts, especially Twitter, are an easy way to really give insight into your worth.  Just focus on your strengths, and give yourself an edge over the competition.

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