Blogging for Breakfast
Let me present you with an edifying spectacle. Whilst you are eating your breakfast and contemplating the day ahead, Channel 4's Jon Snow is already blogging. And after he's finished blogging he will tweet to his followers that the blog is written and the day will have begun.
This is the new world in which we live. It's a 'conversation' rather than a series of announcements. The venue is the Media Trust's one-day conference, Communities For A Digital World and our keynote speaker is, you've guessed it, Jon Snow @jonsnowC4.
Under questioning, Mr Snow also said that blogs should be "earthy and spontaneous" and that they should not be "polished". From one of our leading journalists, this really is new.
But before you despair, he also reiterated some familiar truths - that the "media is essentially lazy" and "desperate for news". Put those two together and you can see where your particular organisation's work can fit into this new fast-paced way of communicating.
Because a news story will now be immediately embellished by content from ordinary people - that's you and me! They send pictures and angles to news organisations that, as Jon Snow confirmed, there would be no way on earth of the said news organisations obtaining speedily, if at all.
To reinforce the point, he cited two examples. Firstly, a documentary strand that was watched by 2 million viewers on C4 which started as a germ of an idea but they had not known where to start. The charity, Shelter, was able to provide them with material from mobile phones that made the programme possible. And in it's recent exposé of troubles in Sri Lanka, C4 made extensive use of "tonnes of material" - something that made it completely different from a similar situation in Srebrenica in the Nineties. That programme was so significant that it was picked up by the United Nations and, in Jon Snow's opinion, changes the nature of power itself.
So how do you get your, perhaps somewhat less dynamic but still important, news to journalists through the ‘noise'. Jon Snow recommended:
• being selective about who you follow on Twitter - indeed, follow relevant journalists such as, in our case, Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor at C4 News
• not following too many people as you can lose relevant people (see bullet one) in the 'noise'
• taking an interest in what they are talking about - you may be able to plug in your work to a relevant conversation
• and lastly, writing your Tweet carefully. Here's an example: "Saw you are doing a story about rehabilitating offenders, We have research and pictures at our website." This sort of tweet, he said, appeals to journos with limited time but a need for content.
Good advice from an entertaining speaker.
There was much more at this conference, so I'll blog again.
In the meantime, I'm off to tweet this blog's existence, and before you ask, no I haven't polished it.Tony Hillman