A few days ago, I gave a presentation as part of the Canadian Institute's Managing Social Media conference here in beautiful, downtown Toronto.
As often happens with these things, I agreed to participate in the conference months ago, and I'm not even sure how I arrived at the title of "Integrating Social Media With Traditional Media" for my talk.
As I began to put my slides together, I realized that I'd need some solid examples of organizations that had successfully "integrated social media with traditional media".
The one that kept coming up was The Globe and Mail, and I think that communicators can learn a lot from the way this organization, which used to be a traditional, print newspaper, has morphed into combination of newspaper and social media portal at TheGlobeAndMail.com.
The main lessons that I think we can learn from them are below:
1.) Make it easy for people to get the information they want in the format they prefer: By this, I mean offer your content across different channels and in different places. The Globe and Mail has a print edition that I can buy at the newsstand, I can download a PDF version from their site, I can subscribe to their news via RSS, or I can read the actual stories on their website. The point is that I can access it in the way that I want.
2.) Embrace multimedia: The Globe and Mail is a newspaper, yet they use audio content in various sections on their site, and they also frequently embed video in their articles. This is similar to point one in that it offers the information in other formats.
3.) Easy URLs: Social media is about sharing. Make it easy for people to share your information (or access it in the first place) by giving them easy URLs. The example I use in my presentation is how The Globe and Mail has done this by telling readers of their print edition that they can access more information about the Toronto International Film Festival at globeandmail.com/tiff09. Its easy to share, its easy to remember and both of those mean that there is a greater chance that people will view it and give it to others to check out.
4.) Do It Live: The Globe and Mail used to print a paper edition once a day (they might have also had an evening edition or something), as most papers did. However, they constantly update their website. They also frequently hold live chats with reporters and cover events live using tools like Cover It Live. Communicators can adapt this kind of strategy by holding press conferences online, or making their spokespersons available for online discussions.
5.) Keyword-rich, easy-to-understand headlines: Admittedly, this isn't something I learned from The Globe and Mail, but another source. (Props to my friend Michael Allison for pointing this out to me!)
6.) Be part of the community: Inspired by a quote I heard attributed to Mathew Ingram, that "Linking to other sources and reading comments makes journalists stronger", I suggest that the lesson for communicators is to get involved in the community they are trying to reach. Their messages will be more relevant, and chances are the community will be more likely to accept the messages if they come from a trusted member.
7.) Keep it fresh: The reason people read the newspaper everyday is because it has new information everyday. Stories have updates. The take-away from this is that once a story goes live, you don't have to forget about it. Follow up on it, provide more information, and keep the story alive in the public eye with a new angle.
8.) Try new things: As I said in a post earlier this week, stop thinking about best practices and case studies and just go out there and do something new and interesting. The Globe and Mail is undergoing all sorts of change, and I'm sure they are the first ones to try some of the things they're doing. Let's learn from that.
I've embedded the slide show below. Since I'm as much of a student of the Masnickian school of Powerpoint presentations as I am his thoughts on economics, the deck has 103 slides that I covered in just under 40 minutes.
You can also download it at ParkerMason.ca/globe.
Thanks to the Canadian Institute for giving me the chance to speak and to everyone in the audience for listening.
And special thanks to Joe Thornley for preserving on his blog what the Twitter community said online during my presentation. Credit for the photo above also goes to Joe.