Engaging with Millennials: Westminster Media Forum Highlights

Engaging Millennials Forum

I recently attended the Westminster Media Forum in London and spoke about how we’re engaging younger audiences through Capital FM, PopBuzz and We The Unicorns. I only had ten minutes so it was quite a speedy tour, but here were my notes from the other excellent speakers that presented. Continue reading

Echo Chambers and Emojis: My Notes from Web Summit 2016

content strategy at web summit 2016

Each year, Web Summit attracts digital enthusiasts from around the world, seeking networking opportunities and juicy thought-leader presentations. This year, however, there seemed to be very little of that, from a content maker perspective at least. The 2016 event in Lisbon was heavy over-subscribed (50,000 attendees was the number quoted) and there was a change in style from previous summits – relaxed sofa ‘chats’ with speakers over detailed analysis. When there was a formal presentation you heard yourself muttering ‘thank god for Power Point’ which is, as you all know, a hideous crime.

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What Now for Journalism?

content strategy and filter bubbles

Some hastily scribbled thoughts following the recent US elections. What do US journalists (and perhaps all of us) need to do going forward?

  • Don’t get too hung up on this whole echo chamber/filter bubble analogy. Although its been important to acknowledge the narcissistic nature of social media, we now need to be careful that these kind of convenient and simplistic metaphors don’t obscure the good work journalists are doing every day to ‘break on through’. When you start talking about people being ‘trapped’ in their own ‘bubbles’ it starts to sound like ‘What’s the use?’ We need to engage, listen and speak a language that the majority understand.
  • Take as a given that advocacy ‘journalism’ websites is only going to get bigger and bolder. They will continue to attack academia and mainstream media for being elitist/disconnected from the populace/ordinary man/forgotten man.
  • The answer? Become excellent, amazing journalists. Let’s get better every day at what we do.
  • Let’s take another look at local news where investment has slipped.
  • Help Facebook become the responsible publisher it needs to be.
  • Challenge the notion that free news probably isn’t worth reading. Don’t hide the truth behind a wall.
  • Find news ways of funding good journalism – like getting Google of Facebook to pay for it.
  • Work with UX/Design to create experiences that facilitate comfortable reading of complex issues.
  • Reject the notion readers are only interested in surface skimming over depth.
  • Fight the titillation of fake news with well-researched, annoying details.
  • Listen more, comment less.

Gamestorm to futureproof your content strategy and design

content strategy gamestorming session

I’m a big fan of Gamestorming – creating really fun interactive sessions motivate participants to focus on a project objective. Using the element of play can be really useful in these instances, as so many of our meetings are dominated by distraction with people answering email on their devices and disengaged. Introducing novel exercises can really counter the monotony of established office routines.

The ‘Pre Mortem’
The exercise I selected from the Gamestorming book was the Pre Mortem – essentially focusing the group on what could go wrong with a project. Asking a group to spend time actively ripping apart a proposed vision or product is actually really fun, and something people aren’t usually asked to do.

Here’s how the hour was organised:

  • 10 mins intro (explain project and point of exercise)
  • 10 mins 2 x groups of 5 – generate disasters
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 5 x mins dot voting
  • 15 mins back into groups – take the top 4-5 and brainstorm mitigation for each
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 10 min summary of what we’ve learnt

Steven LAWW 3IMG_5072IMG_5076IMG_5078

With so many meetings booked in our calendars, many of which overrun or haven’t an established agenda or goal, it’s easy to take the simpliest path – attend, keep participation to a minimum, and then head to the next meeting. With a bit of forward planning, and maybe testing on a few willing participants in advance, it’s possible to create a really constructive session that really bonds the team and helps them see the project (with its many challenges and solutions) in a new light.

Friday #Content Reads: 13.5.16

Here’s a selection of my best content strategy reads over the last week. Enjoy!

Announcing Keyword Explorer: Moz’s New Keyword Research Tool
Interesting new tool from Moz.com. I’m not entirely sure if this does anything over and above a basic understanding of Google’s Keyword Planner but it’s a nice introduction to keyword research if you’ve never done this before.

One month in: Four things The New York Times has learned using Facebook Live
I thought this was a fantastic insight into what NYT has been doing with Facebook Live. P.S, here’s what we’ve been up to on LBC and We The Unicorns…


Internet Video Views Is A 100 Percent Bullshit Metric
The validity of Facebook’s success metric is up for debate again this week. A useful reminder I think, of what makes true video engagement – otherwise we’re all going to end up exploding watermelons.

Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News
I‘m sure you all read this story which resulted in Facebook publishing their editorial guidelines for their Trending module. As someone who has advised on editorial Code of Conducts in the past, I’ve found the whole issue fascinating. It looks like Facebook is recognising the need for more publisher transparency – although I’m sure it would deny it was a publisher.

3 charts that show the very different news audiences for mobile web and apps
Read this to understand the different kind of engagement across mobile web and app.

And lastly, thanks to Classic FM for unearthing this video of Prince this week. I’ve had the tune in my head all week…

WANTED: Freelance Multimedia Editor Required!

We have an exciting new project starting on Heart.co.uk which will involve creating amazing, shareable content in a variety of formats. This person will have a strong understanding of what makes great distributed content so probably has experience of being both a Content Editor and Social Media Guru/Overlord. Other details below.

  • Education to degree level
  • Journalism qualification preferred with, ideally, experience gained with an entertainment/lifestyle publisher
  • Experience of curating amazing content – sourcing memes, videos etc and creating highly sharable listicles
  • Equally important – experience creating original video, memes etc – you are a true multimedia unicorn!
  • A flexible and willing approach to working under pressure and in a fast-paced environment

Please email me your CV and examples of your work.

Friday #Content Reads: 6.5.16

content video strategy

A list of my most interesting content strategy-related reads this week…

Here’s What Makes The Guardian So Successful On Facebook
A great insight into FB distribution strategy at the Guardian. And if you like that, find out what Buzzed are up to in the video space as well.

Facebook videos live fast, die young
We all knew this right? but still interesting read…
‘While YouTube and Facebook have established themselves as major hubs for mobile video, the lifespan of content on each platform is markedly different. Put in astronomical terms, a Facebook video is a brief supernova, peaking early and then quickly fading out; a YouTube video is more like a cooling star that emits a small flash of light then slowly decays.’

Facebook is going to start showing you pieces people actually read
Time online is back people!

With a scripted daily comedy news show, Mic looks to add a little late night TV to the social video mould 
Interesting to see how Mic is choosing the comedy format to increase reach amongst the millennials. Again, it’s an example of a team that has been given the freedom to experiment.

How to build audiences by engaging your community
Great starter-guide for approaching community journalism in your newsroom.

Netflix Knows Which Pictures You’ll Click On–And Why
Essential reading…
“One of Netflix’s earliest findings was that interest tended to drop off when an image touting a show or movie contained more than three people. It seems that users find it hard to focus when there are too many people, and may not be able to absorb cues about the storyline. This was a surprising insight for Netflix, given that some shows are popular precisely because they have large casts. Orange Is the New Black is a good example of this. “While ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway, they are too complex at small sizes,” Nelson says. “They are ultimately not as effective at helping our members decide if the title is right for them on smaller screens.”