Kitting out media for the future

Joanne Geary asks a very interesting question: How should we tech out our newsrooms? I’d like to extend that question to tech-ing out any media operation.

As has been repeated ad-infinitum on here and pretty much everywhere else, the way we consume our media is changing and all organisations – radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, and PR – have to adapt to this. How we produce our news, our features, our press releases – it’s all changing and we should at least know what we’re doing with it.

So that means knowing how best to utilise Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, forums and other forms of social media. But you can take a journalist to a computer but you cannot make him write. Or, as Joanna says somewhat better:

“But understanding the benefits of multiple platforms needs someone to use these platforms regularly. Training only goes so far. If you do not use YouTube or Facebook, for example, how can you really understand how they can be used in story telling?”

And even people who do use these things may not understand how useful they can be to news or PR. It’s intergrating sites or tools that could be classified as ‘play’ into the working way of doing things.

She’s also spot on when she says that people need to see how these tools can work for them – following an example from start to finish, be it tracking down a story using Twitter, Twing and Facebook, or using social media formats like Seesmic, YouTube and Bebo to get your PR message out there.

But I also don’t think there should be a rush to get those in the media to incorporate everything and anything social media related into their work. Sometimes it just won’t work for the story your writing or brand you’re promoting. Other times, you may even be overcooking the social media and starting too many different conversations that just get lost.

But equally, just because it doesn’t work the first time somebody starts using blogs, podcasts or a MySpace page, they shouldn’t be allowed to abandon the ideas. In an ideal world, everybody would have access to a range of platforms – videos, blogs, audio podcasts. But if they can’t have these instantly at their fingertips, they should at least get constant support and training from colleagues who are regularly engaging in social media.

Perhaps most importantly, each individual has to find out for themselves what works for them. Perhaps some will enjoy getting their hands dirty and engaging on forums. Perhaps some will love setting up Facebook groups, or Bebo pages. Others may suddenly find a joy Twittering to their heart’s content from a wet press launch. But it is only with the right support from all levels of management right down to new, geekily-enthusiastic colleagues, that the media can move forward when it comes to using social media.

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