“Running on empty” is not a new concept for digital newsrooms. There have always been long hours and exhausted employees. Over the past couple of decades, the digital load has continuously expanded, and now your journalists are also expected to produce video, social media content, images, copy, and everything else that running a publication entails.
But how do you keep the engine running?
Here are some ways to lighten the load, set your staff up for success, and help your operation run fully-optimized without killing your employees.
Training your digital newsroom staff is going to be the most critical piece of your process. You may assume that people know how to tweak video or edit photos, or navigate your CMS, but they may not. And even if they know, everybody in your organization needs to be operating within the same parameters.
Yes, it may be a heavy lift, and you may feel like using person-hours to teach someone how to use free video software is a waste, but it will likely cost you a lot more person-hours on the back end you don’t invest upfront.
Ensure that your old & new staff are always are on the same page. Build a training checklist that you use for all staff, and make sure to cross-train. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your “photo editor” is out and your team struggles for images.
Here are some things to think about:
Content Management System (CMS):
- Does your staff know how to use your CMS to its full potential?
- Is there a tagging/organization structure?
- What video software are you using?
- Where is the video hosted?
- How do you embed it into your posts?
- Do you create video posts?
- What is your process for posting to social? Who posts to social?
- Which platforms do you use, and how do you use them?
- How do you create your copy?
- Are your reporters selecting social-friendly images for their content?
- Do you live stream?
- How do you use Facebook and Instagram?
- Do you use live stream software on your website?
- How is it promoted in advance?
- How is this distributed in real-time?
- Does your team know who is involved?
- Make sure there is a consistency of voice in headlines and social copy.
- Are there off-limits topics?
- How do you tackle controversial issues?
Building your Social Posts (Social Setups):
- What is a performing headline, and why?
- How are you pulling social copy? Is it effective?
- Here are some tips if you think yours could be better.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- Is your CMS set up properly to rank?
- Are your reporters linking out, both internally and externally?
- Is content being created with SEO in mind?
Video is an essential component of a digital newsroom. If you’re lucky, you can rotate in a few video editors who know how to churn out a video with advanced editing software with no notice. Unfortunately, most newsrooms don’t have access to video editors 24/7, and the process can be intimidating for somebody who has never tackled video before.
Never fear! There are many free and low-cost resources to help your team navigate video creation, editing, and distribution.
Streamyard is available in both a free version and a low-cost version. It enables you to stream to Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms seamlessly.
Wochit includes pre-created videos, social posts, photo galleries, import options for original content, and branding. It’s a simple tool to help you curate your videos quickly and inexpensively.
Like Wochit, Wibbitz could be a great way to build supplemental video content when working with a team with little to no experience quickly.
Every newsroom should have Getty and AP subscriptions. These image sources are going to be your primary source of photo content. Investing in some other stock image sites may be worthwhile if you struggle to find what you need.
Though, what you’re wondering is how people create custom/branded graphics on the fly. Good news: There are a TON of options!
Your most custom option will be Photoshop, and you’ll likely find that more and more employees are at least tangentially familiar with how to use it. You don’t need a newsroom full of experts to use Photoshop effectively!
A way to get reliable branded content is to create templates. Add your breaking news banners, watermarks, and text boxes, then get them out to your staff. A quick tutorial can have every staffer dragging in images and swapping out text like a pro!
A simple, free tool comes with a bank of fonts, backgrounds, and images to help you create easy social graphics. The paid version will give you access to more pictures and fonts. Build some templates and use them consistently!
This tool boasts that they’re even more robust than Canva. It’s an inexpensive tool that helps you build graphics quickly with a user-friendly interface. The higher level even includes analytics, brand kits, and more!
This one includes video as well! There are three tiers, ranging from free to $49.99/month. You select a template, customize, and download! Simple enough!
Managing Social Media
Social media is likely one of your most considerable time sucks. However, if you’re like most digital newsrooms, a substantial portion of your traffic comes from social media. Because of the value that social media represents, it can make you feel trapped. How on earth can you get your team off of Facebook?
The good news is that scheduling and automation have come a long way! There are dozens of tools out there that allow you to schedule content out when you know you will have a hard time getting posts out.
If you’re looking to take things to the next level, check out True Anthem.
Our AI can remove scheduling from your task list entirely, allowing you to customize frequency, content type, and more. We even provide deep-dive analytics to help you get started!
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