Posted tagged ‘digital media’

Promoting RebelMouse for curated news streams

November 10, 2013

RebelMouse is a content creation, aggregation and publishing platform.

RebelMouse is a content creation, aggregation and publishing platform.


Six months ago, I started a RebelMoue page for the Southeast Michigan Media Lab and wrote about the tool. The lab, as regular readers of this blog know, is my ideaLab project as a member of Digital First Media. While I had experience with the content creation, aggregation and publishing platform, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized its true potential for curating news and conversations unfolding on social media.

In May, I set up the media lab’s RebelMouse page as a way to curate, in real time, news stories from Heritage.com, its Pinterest boards and Flickr, as well as the media lab’s posts on social media, and embedded it in my blog so my blog would always be fresh. Months later, on a conference call with our Michigan editors I learned about a special section called Made in Michigan to be produced in October, and thought we could create a RebelMouse microsite and use it for community engagement. I thought we should start a hashtag campaign encouraging our audience to post #madeinmichigan or #michiganmade Tweets showing off or promoting their favorite Michiganmade products and feeding them into the microsite. To make the site more engaging, I decided to bring in Pure Michigan’s tweets and its videos from YouTube, as well as its Pinterest boards and Facebook RSS feed.

As I reflected later, I thought while I used the RebelMouse microsite as a community engagement tool, which was cool and fun, it wasn’t helping to drive page views to our websites. Lesson learned.

When Demarius Reed, a football player at Eastern Michigan University, was shot and killed Oct. 18, Rick Kessler, managing editor of Heritage Media, asked if I would monitor Twitter and look for story leads. It was at that time that I thought about using RebelMouse again, but this time as a hub for all news about Reed’s death and the community’s reaction. Between Oct. 18 and Nov. 10, that page has had 43,400 impressions, an impressive number, as it has featured news stories, Tout videos and tweets about the police investigation, memorial service, campus safety meetings, and voices of those mourning Reed’s loss.

I set up the site to collect all tweets with the trending hashtags #DemariusReed, #DR2, #RIPDReed, and Reed’s Twitter handle @D_Reed2. This brought in news stories and video from news organizations and reporters using the hashtag, as well as tweets, Instagram pics and YouTube videos from his family, friends and fans. In fact, one fan created an original song and posted it on SoundCloud, tweeting it with the hashtag. So that, too, was featured on the RebelMouse page. Occasionally, I would check the “drafts” folder, where tweets without photos would land, and approved some to appear on the page. I also searched out news, such as a letter from EMU President Susan Martin to alumni, and I took a screenshot of Reed’s last tweets, and manually added them on the page using the blogging function.

At Digital First Media, we are encouraged to use one-third professionally produced content from our staff, one-third user-generated content and one-third aggregated content from other media, and RebelMouse is the perfect tool to achieve this formula.

Unfortunately, when I shared the embed code for the page, the local editor did not use it. So, all the page views went directly to RebelMouse, a missed opportunity for us that greatly disappointed me. But it was another lesson, just as the Michiganmade RebelMouse page was a month earlier, and a challenge to overcome.

So, what I decided to do was offer to teach editors and reporters the value of RebelMouse and explain that embedding the page in an article page on our sites, and then promoting it on our social media channels, will bring traffic to our news sites. On our next editors call, I talked about the success of the Demarius Reed RebelMouse page, the magical mix of our content, aggregated content and UGC, and offered to teach editors and reporters how to set up microsites on RebelMouse and embed them on article pages to capture page views.

So far, The Oakland Press has taken me up on the training. On Thursday, I traveled to Pontiac and shared a PowerPoint I created about the power of RebelMouse as a curation site that can aggregate news and serve as a hub of information for breaking news, celebrity news, trending topics, topic-specific content, such as the Detroit Tigers or Lions, or even serve as a stand-alone news curation site for communities we don’t cover with our resources, such as Monroe, Mich., but are covered by other news organizations, and have an active community of bloggers and people using social media.

As part of the workshop, I created an Obamacare RebelMouse mircosite, curating news, video, Pinterest boards and tweets on the subject. The demonstration showed how easy it is to set up a microsite and how fast it can be to add the feeds. I suggested each reporter do the same and shared possible topics, such as Twitter being sold on the New York Stock Exchange that day for the first time and the Olympics. For kicks, and as part of a workshop on RebelMouse for the community, I created a RebelMouse microsite curating news, information, blog posts and social media posts about the reality TV franchise “The Real Housewives.”

Since creating the Obamacare site three days ago, there have been 8,351 impressions. And this time, learning a lesson from missed opportunities, the embed was used on three of our Michigan news sites, our group editor’s blog, and Oakland Press political reporter Charlie Crumm linked to the site, adding a tab to his RebelMouse page using RebelNav.

What’s great about RebelMouse is that once you enter the hashtags, and Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, and RSS feeds, it’s all automated. You don’t have to do anything, unless you want to take the initiative. And I have on the Obamacare microsite, adding articles posted by our sister publications that haven’t been tweeted out using the hashtags (#AffordableHealthCareAct, #Obamacare and #AHCA) we have told RebelMouse to aggregate. It’s so easy to add news articles, videos and other content, even your own, by using the blogging function on RebelMouse. You can paste the URL of a news story or YouTube video directly in a box on the page and it will post after clicking on a button. You can add photos and other elements, too, if you wish to provide richer content.

Check out my PowerPoint and create your own news curation site or social front page using RebelMouse. On a professional level, it’s fun for me to master another digital tool that adds value to our news sites and provides a hub for information on specific news topics, making it easier for readers to find and read a variety of sources. I love it!

Community Media Lab role leads to talk in Milan

September 23, 2013

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my job as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab is that I get to travel to communities across Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to present information about the media lab and the resources we offer. I call it a media lab roadshow, and I have visited Saline, Chelsea and Dexter in the last few months presenting to chamber of commerce members and at senior centers.

On Sept. 13, I had the honor of returning to Milan, where I had served as editor of The Milan News-Leader from July 2006 to February 2013, while also serving as the managing editor of Heritage Media’s western Washtenaw County publications — seven in all, plus The View in Wayne County — and the website Heritage.com. I had to book it about five months out, but it was worth the wait. More than 30 people attended, and they seemed genuinely interested in the free services the lab has to offer through 21st Century Media, managed by Digital First Media, and partnering with The Milan News-Leader to contribute local news.

Since my intern returned to school last month, it was a little bit more of a challenge to shoot video of my presentation while presenting. I set up a Flip video camera at a table behind me and tried to judge from afar whether I was in the frame, and I was a little off. Still, I created a video of the talk and shared it on the media lab’s YouTube channel.

I also shot a Tout before the presentation started so I could use it as an example during my presentation of social media and new media tools that are available to report in real time.

I fed the Tout into my RebelMouse page, which I incorporated in my presentation and told business owners it was something they should all have, if they are active on social media.

In addition, I took a photo of the members getting their breakfast before my talk and included it in a Tweet before my presentation started, as another way of showcasing the greatness of social media.

There were three or four reporters in the audience, and Joyce Ervin, who is a freelance writer, shared with me this morning the article she wrote for Heritage.com and The Milan News-Leader. It’s only fitting that she shared with me the link to the piece online by posting it on my Facbook page, as part of my talk was about reaching your audience on the platform they feel comfortable with and are using. Joyce knows I am active on Facebook and would see her post there before picking up a print copy.

JoyceFBPost

I received some really nice feedback after the presentation and the real test of my success came just a few hours later after I shared the link to my PowerPoint with those who asked for it. Susan Sheeley, a former elementary school counselor who just started her own counseling practice, Connections Counseling and Consulting, booked an appointment to learn more about using social media to promote her business. She had started a Facebook page, and we added her professional photo and cover photo, as well as a description. I helped her start a Twitter account and linked her Facebook and Twitter. And I also showed her how to create a meme, so she could share inspirational sayings or give advice using a new media tool.

SusanFB

It was fun working with Susan, and getting her started with her first Tweet,

meme and Facebook post promoting her website. I also encouraged her to check out Tout and possibly set up a YouTube channel to dispense some advice, while getting people comfortable with her style and approach as a counselor.

I look forward to helping more people from Milan and beyond who are struggling with social media or new media, and just need a little boost or help to get them going. It’s a bonus when they are as appreciative as Susan in her tweet.

New social media tool NewHive my latest obsession

April 14, 2013
My NewHive expression on my favorite digital tools.

My NewHive expression on my favorite digital tools.


As part of my role as a member of Digital First Media’s ideaLab, I am encouraged to experiment with new digital tools. My latest obsession is NewHive, which is still in beta and is by invite-only.

NewHive allows you to create “expressions,” which start off as blank canvasses until you add headlines, subheads, text, video, audio, photographs and other graphic elements. You can change font, use color, use shapes and draw shapes. In the end, you can make the page look like a piece of art, a newspaper page, invitation or any kind of creative expression you can imagine.

So far, I have three expressions. My first one was about the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. It features photos and video of the lab to give people an idea of what the lab has to offer.

My second expression was about me, how to connect with me on social media and my favorite digital tools. I like to share this with people who are just as excited about visual storytelling as I am.

My latest expression is an invitation to The Oakland Press reader focus group on Wednesday. I thought it would be great to share the invite on Twitter, Facebook and via email through a link.

The only drawback I’ve found, so far, is that it doesn’t appear we can embed it in an article page using our online publishing system. I have a request in now seeking help, as the embed appears to show up before it’s published on the page, but an error message appears after it’s published using TownNews. Despite this setback, what’s great about NewHive is that it can be shared using numerous social media tools. So, while we won’t get the online traffic, anything we link to. including article pages, will.

NewHive is an up-and-coming creative social media tool that I hope catches on. I especially like it to showcase creativity in photography and video. I think it’s also a great tool for journalists to use to showcase their work. Let me know what you think.

A Community Media Lab takes off with much promise

July 11, 2012


Earlier this year, Journal Register Company, parent company of Heritage Media, managed by Digital First Media, solicited proposals from staffers interested in starting a Community Media Lab. I jumped on it right away, with input from my staff, and put together a proposal with a modest $4,100 start-up budget and monthly operating expenses of $290. In May, Steve Buttry, our community engagement and social media director, announced our newsroom, which covers eight communities and is based in Saline, Mich., was one of 12 approved this year for funding.

While it was an honor to be one of the chosen ones, which means we will get new equipment and technology to make it easier, I had actually decided in March that opening a Community Media Lab would be my latest ideaLab project, and the lab unofficially opened in April at 215 W. Michigan Ave. at the SPARK-East building in Ypsilanti. SPARK is a business incubator that agreed to allow us to host our lab in the lobby of the building, where we’ve set up a blogging station and dedicated Mac, donated by the Eastern Michigan University student-run newspaper, The Eastern Echo, for video editing. There is also classroom space for presentations, with a projector and screen.

I have been guilty of not writing more about this endeavor on my ideaLabHeritage blog because I’ve been quite overwhelmed managing the Community Media Lab, while also managing eight weekly newspapers and the website Heritage.com. Not only did I launch a blog on WordPress to write about our work in the lab, but also a Twitter account and Facebook page. Updating those social media accounts regularly, with help from my staff, while also hosting workshops and helping people in the lab, has kept me busy.

In the last several months, we have hosted five workshops, all led by professionals in the communities we serve and promoted using events pages on Facebook, as well as briefs in print. Freelance writer/copy editor Sarah Rigg led our first workshop May 23 with “What is AP style and why should I care about it;” Char Luttrell, who works in public relations at Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, led “Working with the news media” May 31; Leslie McGraw, a local blogger, presented “Integrating social media into your professional development” June 8; Renee Collins, a journalism professor at Adrian College, led “Column and narrative writing” June 11; and Kristin Judge, a former county commissioner who speaks on Internet safety issues, moderated “Online Safety” June 27. We used CoverItLive to solicit audience feedback on their presentations and most were shared using the Heritage Community Media Lab channel on UStream for live video and then archived. Their presentations, whether Word documents or PowerPoints, were shared with our online audience using an embed code generated through Scribd.com.

We’ve had between two and 10 people attend in person and an online audience of a couple dozen. My goal is to increase participation and engagement.

Upcoming workshops will feature Eastern Michigan University professor Michael McVey, who will teach participants how to edit audio using the free download Audacity July 18; EMU professor Toni S. Jones will present “Creating docs in Goole Docs” Aug. 3; Arborwiki editor Edward Vielmetti will lead a workshop on creating a city wiki Aug. 16; and Carol Schlagheck, a journalism professor at EMU, will present “Citizen Journalists and FOIA” Aug. 30.

The Educational Media and Technology Department at EMU, as well as Schlagheck and her colleagues and Kevin Devine, adviser to The Eastern Echo, have thrown their support behind the Community Media Lab. They’ve all offered to lead workshops and help spread the word about our efforts.

My staff has also supported the effort. We have a journalist or editor at the Community Media Lab between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with everyone on the news staff working three- to seven-hour shifts. While they are there, they either work with individuals who stop by for help in setting up a social media account, edit a video or learn how to write a press release, for example, or they explore new digital storytelling tools or work on their own content for our newspapers and website. Each is asked to post to the Community Media Lab blog after a shift. Some of our efforts have included helping students in Ypsilanti set up blogs, working with nonprofits to establish a presence on social media and helping a local business owner write a press release about an accomplishment. We’re also available to listen to story ideas from local residents or take suggestions on how we can do a better job covering the news in the community.

While I think we’ve accomplished a lot in the last few months, I feel there is so much work left to do. Beyond hosting workshops, training community contributors and offering our services to the public in general, my Community Media Lab proposal called for recruiting student contributors, community bloggers, photographers, podcasters and videographers. I’d like to establish social media teams, interactive media teams and BlogTalk Radio hosts and share the content on our website. My goal is to enrich our community content online and in print by bringing the outside in the newsroom, so to speak.

I’d love to see more community contributions. While I was a reporter and later editor of The Chelsea Standard and The Dexter Leader, from 1992 to 2006, I enjoyed a close relationship with community members who were actively involved in the newspapers. Teachers sent photographs of students with information about school activities, local service clubs and churches submitted press releases about their upcoming events and community dinners, and readers wrote letters to the editor and guest columns sharing their voices with their neighbors.

I think back to before my time as a journalist and editor, when community newspapers would publish a paragraph on who in town had spotted the first robin of spring or which neighbor was visiting family out of state, and I’d like to see our audience share more of themselves like earlier generations did. Understanding our society has changed and is much more tech savvy, I imagine instead of the first robin of spring, we could view a video of a school classroom’s visit to the Detroit Zoo. Instead of reading about someone’s trip to visit family out of town, we could read a blog about a local resident working in a Third World country as part of the Peace Corps. Someone who attended the Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade could upload all of their photos from the parade into Flickr and generate a photo slideshow, or produce a video to share with our readers by just sending us the embed code.

There are so many possibilities for our readers to get involved and contribute, and I am excited to offer the Community Media Lab as a training facility for those who want to contribute, but may not know how or need to learn new skills.

And while sharing your passions with us — whether it’s photography, video, podcasting, creating digital cartoons or writing — may not be your thing, we’re still interested in helping you in the Community Media Lab. It’s a learning environment and we are there to teach and assist you. Heck, maybe you can teach us something or we can explore a new digital tool together. We can all learn something in the Community Media Lab. Stop by and see us or check out one of our workshops online. If you have any ideas of how we can help the community further, whether it’s bringing in specific speakers or sponsoring a photography club, we want to hear from you. Email communitymedialab@heritage.com.

MPA conference presents ‘Behind the Microphone’

January 27, 2012

Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Director of Corporate Affairs Helen Stojic, Fennville High School basketball coach Ryan Klinger and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell talked about what it’s like to “deal with the media” and the Jan. 27 Michigan Press Association conference in Grand Rapids. It was billed as a way to get “pointers from a perspective that can yield better stories for newspaper readers.” It was moderated by Ron Dzwonkowski of The Detroit Free Press.

The face and the voice of City Hall is interpreted for its citizens through print and electronic media, said Heartwell.

Stelma: Command staff or officers authorized to speak if media liaison is available. Primarily, though, media requests come to him. He attended FBI Academy and was trained in how to deal with the media. “We always tell people. ‘We work for you.'” “We use the media as much to assist us get the work done … as they need us to do the job you must do.”

Stojic: BCBS cares what’s reported about the business. “We want people to know we do care.”

“When I get calls … I direct them to the right person to help them out,” she said.

Klinger asked how many dealings with media he had before the tragic death of basketball player Wes Leonard thrust the school district in the media. The coach said he heard from people around the world about it. Stories were written from around the world. Klinger said he told players to be honest and show your emotion” when responding to press questions about death of teammate. Klinger: “For me it was about representing Wes Leonard and his family … To me it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do, but something I felt we had to do.”

Stojic said she runs into people who say they wouldn’t want her job because she has to “deal with the media.” But she thinks it’s important to be proactive and keep reporters informed. She was asked if it’s her job to make BCBS look good. She said it’s her job to tell the company’s story and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, like on the Internet, that they have to counter.

Stelma asked if he always tells the truth. He said he does, but often media has a tip or information and they know he knows, but for some reason the sheriff can’t reveal the information at that time. “I just tell them I can’t devuldge the information at this time.

“I can tell them, but they know. … It’s the balancing of what information is important to the community for safety reasons.

“There’s a delicate balance.”

Mayor Heartwell asked if he always tells the truth. He was bound one time by a nondisclosure agreement to not talk about a project in the city and he said he would never do that again because he needs to work in public’s best interest as a public servant. He often says he can’t comment, and would not lie.

Heartwell said he often gets his first knowledge of an incident from the media, rather than from his own police force because they’re busy on the case. When asked for comment, he doesn’t like to admit or tell the media this is the first he is hearing about an incident in the city, but he understands why he’s placed in that position.

Stelma said he often gets caught up in the media’s frenzy to get the story out first. “I actually get involved in the tension of the media (battling for the story).” He has a media line and encourages reporters to call that line, which is answered regularly. He does not share his cell number, but he does share email address.

Stojic asked how much authority does she have to speak for BCBS or does she have to ask her boss at some point. She said she has a lot of leeway, but she doesn’t like “playing a doctor on television.” She’ll help the reporter get an expert source when needed, such as a doctor or nurse. “I don’t know everything off the top of my head.”

Stojic said an employees sometimes circle a story in print and tell her how the reporter got it wrong. She says she always tries to get it right and it’s rare her boss or an employee points to anything she got wrong.

Klinger asked about his dealings with reporters and were they all the same. Most, Klinger said, were respectful, even though he could sense they were competitive for the story. “For me, it was about if I could get the message across about the player we lost, the family, how great our community was, that was special for me, whether I had to do it five times or a hundred times. I never said no to them because I didn’t want to turn away that opportunity.”

Stelma doesn’t distinguish between media and citizens in covering story pr shooting video or photos.

Sheriff Stelma doesn’t go off the record with reporters because it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Stojic says she has gone off the record to give background on a topic to a reporter when doesn’t want to give official comment just yet. “We want to make sure the information is correct,” she said.

‘Covering the Big, Breaking Story Online’ at #MIAP meeting

October 14, 2011

Peg West, Meegan Holland and Kate Nagengast of The Grand Rapids Press held the last of three sessions Oct. 12 at the Michigan AP Editorial Association Annual Editors Meeting, speaking on “Covering the Big, Breaking Story Online Including Using Social Media — A Case Study.”

The issue is how to maintain your relevance in today’s times. You can’t use the traditional legacy ways of seven days a week or weekly in print. There is a great demand from the community for breaking news online. As soon as news breaks, people want to know.

Key techniques
Central command post for web posting
Live blog-style breaking news post
Reporters armed with smartphones
Photo galleries
Video of scheduled events
Consistently use a pool email address
Post full print story each morning
Social media

TweetDeck allows you to keep track of what people are talking about.

Rather than summarize their case study, I have included audio on my phlog. Check it out.