Steve Buttry visits for community engagement workshops

Engagement Workshops

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, which manages parent company 21st Century Media, paid a visit July 9 to the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, where community engagement editors from across the company’s Michigan and Ohio properties met to deliver a series of workshops.

I had the pleasure of livestreaming the event using the Southeast Michigan Media Lab‘s uStream channel, and moderating a live chat on ScribbleLive, while also presenting three of the 14 workshops. I was a little nervous about whether everything would run smoothly as I was on vacation the week prior to the event and had short notice on what I would be presenting. But because I provided Steve with a list of what I felt comfortable talking about, and had some slides from old PowerPoints I had delivered on the subject, I didn’t spend too much time putting together the presentations and was able to still enjoy my vacation with not a lot of prep work for the event.

The lab was packed with presenters, as well as some handpicked staff and editorial staffers from The Macomb Daily and Advisor & Source who were curious about particular subjects and wanted to watch in person, rather than online. Everyone used the hashtag #DFMengage throughout the afternoon to Tweet highlights, share photos and video. Some of our followers on social media chimed in with their own comments using the same hashtag, with all the posts appearing in our live chat blog.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Steve kicked off the afternoon with introductions, and it was great to meet in person many people who I was familiar with only by name or social media handle.

I led the first workshop on ScribbleLive, followed by fellow media lab director Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor for The Macomb Daily, speaking on her successes with community engagement using Facebook and, in particular, archival photographs that go viral. Lisa Yanick Jonaitis, community engagement editor at The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, spoke next about engaging your audience through contests, followed by Cheryl Sadler, community engagement editor at The News-Herald in Ohio, who walked us through her successes with Pinterest.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke about a new short-form video tool we are using across DFM called Tout and Karen Workman, former community engagement editor at The Oakland Press who now works on breaking news at DFM’s Thunderdome, gave a presentation about using Google Voice for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Steve followed with a chat on using video to engage your audience.

Laura Tressler Kessel, managing editor of The News-Herald in Ohio, gave examples of engaging the community as contributors and using their content, as well as a community weight loss effort. Steve followed with a talk on the social conversation and how to engage your audience online through social media.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl returned later in the afternoon with a presentation on the photo engagement tool Olapic, which encourages reader-submitted content. Karen was up next with an overview on Thunderdome, soliciting ideas from the editors on how the national news-gathering group could better serve staff at the local level.

At 5 p.m. I threw a bunch of tools at the editors as I spoke about Google Forms, NewHive, RebelMouse, SurveyMonkey and Dipity for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Before Steve’s wrap-up was Jeff Kuehn, regional sports editor for the Michigan cluster, and Cheryl, who spoke on the sports department’s efforts to solicit user-generated content, use of social media and community engagement efforts. Steve concluded the program with an example of community engagement using GeoFeedia to capture what the crowd was saying about the anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg story.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

After the workshops, Steve asked everyone to think about a tool or idea they could apply to their job today. It will be interesting to see what everyone came up with as the weeks progress, and as we add a new tool to our tool belt over the course of several months based on what we learned from one another.

I decided to delve deeper into Pinterest, based on Cheryl’s presentation, and I’ve been working with the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor. I helped the group start a Pinterest page and one of their volunteers will be meeting with me regularly to post photos from their volunteer activities, follow other interests, repin items and start engaging individuals on the social media tool while building an audience, and, hopefully, attracting more people to the group. For example, they recently visited Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and I am sure their photos of the beautiful flowers will attract some followers, and repins.

If you attended our workshops, post here which tool you decided to embrace and how you are using it. I’d love to hear from you.

Special thank you to Jan Wick for ordering our lunch and making sure we had everything we needed, Steve Buttry for flying in and sharing his expertise, and everyone who attended and participated in this great learning experience. I look forward to another series next year. So, that means continue exploring new tools, experimenting with new ideas and engaging your communities in conversations as we work toward elevating our journalism.

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