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Top Social Media Tactics – public media style

Over the past six years I’ve worked on social media for various public media outlets.
Here are my favorite campaigns:

1. Launch and Sustained Growth – Oakland Local, community news site for Oakland, CA

KLOUT_OL post Launched in 2009, Oakland Local’s campaign to build a dedicated readership was simple — set up a stable stream of interesting local content and ask everyone involved to share the content with their lists. For every article or community voices blog entry published we set a Twitter and a facebook post. We then asked funders, bloggers, journalists, community partners and featured Oakland Locals to spread the news. We made this easy for them by inviting them via email to share the twitter posts we created. And we didn’t stop. We repeated this formula over and over.

In addition to making sharing a central part of the OL culture, we connected with local nonprofits and community groups at an early stage. We did this by asking groups to submit their content as community voices blog entries. And we did this by partnering with various groups on short-term news projects, capacity building workshops (where we provided tech expertise on their social media accounts) and community development initiatives. At every point we shared our mission and our knowledge and asked our partners to help share our content.



Started with funding from J-Lab at American University, Oakland Local reaches 76,000 unique visitors a month, all from the Oakland/East Bay. The site now has 6,700+ facebook followers and 5,500+ Twitter followers. Although Oakland Local is fairly new, it is a model for the future of news and community engagement. As a member of both The Investigative News Network and The Society of Professional Journalists, OL is committed to quality work; we’ve had stories funded by The Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. Our stories are distributed through Yahoo! News, SFGate, New America Media and others.

2. Friend and Fund Raising – Making Contact, National Radio Project, in-depth public affairs weekly radio show
MC Klout Score

To connect Making Contact’s broadcast radio streaming listenership and its non-listening donating audience with its website, facebook and Twitter, we’ve integrated additional media into every blog post. For instance, short videos, audio web extras, photography, Thinglink images and webified versions of the audio are now included on every show page. We’ve also focused on search via AdWords and via cross linking with related news outlets. And we seek friends willing to share our content via one-to-one communications. This has led to campaigns like our 2012 MayDay public media online fundraising collaboration, MayDayMedia99, and our 2012 Valentine’s day campaign, Love Your Media Day. Both campaigns focused on friend and fund raising. To do this, both campaigns featured an AdWords Ad, a SoundCloud audio set and targeted mailings in addition to addition to our weekly radio show offering.

Our MayDayMedia campaign, a Media 99 Razoo collaboration with Media Consortium members, led to roughly 20,000 people visiting the Media 99 website. Our site, also benefited from focused MayDay work. If you visited our site that day you would have seen not only our weekly show but also Free Speech TV’s player, which we used for live MayDay coverage, and buttons that led to the Media99 event map and the Storify content. This added content and marketing via social media, phone calls and emails raised site traffic that day. Our Tuesday average is roughly 600 visits/day. On MayDay nearly 1,000 visited our site. And, time spent on our site doubled. Even better, many of these were first time visitors to our site. To note, most of those who came to our site on MayDay via referrals came from facebook. And we added 39 new online donors to our donor base during our MayDay collaboration.

Our Valentine’s Day AdWords ad garnered 1,350 clicks. And our facebook posts and tweets were shared among various key supporters. Throughout this Valentine’s Day campaign we used the #supportyrmedia day hashtag.

Here’s some of what we tweeted and some of what we heard on MayDay and on Valentine’s Day:

AdWords ad:
Spiced Valentines Day
Celebrate by fighting for
access to reproductive services.

SoundCloud set list:

Email Headline:
Show some love

Email Video Link:

Making Contact struggles with many challenges faced by public radio: a) a large portion of listeners tune in via their radio while driving or at home while away from the screen b) the audience is dispersed geographically c) the audience is dispersed thematically. But Making Contact is also a beacon in the nonprofit world with a funding pool composed mostly of small individual, recurring donations. Online, Making Contact reaches 6,000 unique web visitors a month. This is in addition to the 5,000+ who download the MC podcast via RSS feeds. An even larger group listen via radio stations nationwide and internationally. The site now has 2,350 facebook followers and 700+ Twitter followers.


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Getting apps into your car

Remember KITT?  The Knight Rider car from the 1980’s?

KITT is finally here and not just for those with BMWs.  With the proliferation of smartphones, automakers have found a hook to pump sales. And, consumers now expect constant grid connectivity. Last year 4.5 million cars were sold with “telematics“, by 2015 that will increase to 22.7 million, according to IHS iSuppli. source

What will we see more of?

  • smartphone management (aka radio off the dial) through in-car audio systems or via voice recognition, source – see MyFordTouch and AppLink
  • antenna systems that allow TV reception, sports and kids shows seem to be the main push on this, care of KVH, DirecTV, SiriusXM, Backseat TV now comes preinstalled in select Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeeps
  • improved navigation databases that inform electric cars of the closest energy fill-up station
  • built-in wireless connection that connects the car to the cloud and allows owners to communicate with the car from their smartphones
  • real-time traffic updates, games, streaming video in old cars via 4G – see  Harman source

“About 50 car models in the United States already have Internet radio app integration or will have it in their model-year 2012 versions. BMW, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion, Buick, Chevrolet and Hyundai integrate Internet radio apps in the United States. In Europe, only BMW and Mini offer Internet radio so far. In China, there are four Chinese luxury models that are in the process of adding Internet radio integration.

A range of Internet radio service providers have entered the U.S. market, including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker and Spotify. These companies’ services represent direct competition to standard broadcast radio and subscription-based satellite radio.
Global sales of automobiles with Internet radio capability are set to rise by a factor of more than 30 during the next eight years, leading a wave of in-vehicle apps that will be integrated into car electronics systems in the coming years, according to the IHS iSuppli Automotive Research Service from information and analysis provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).

Sales of cars with Internet radio integrated into their head unit will soar to 24 million units in 2018, up from 168,000 in 2010, as presented in the figure below. The United States will lead the Internet radio market, with sales growing to more than 10.9 million units in 2018, from 149,000 in 2010.” source
“…in the past year, 5 percent more drivers are using their cell phones to listen to Internet radio on the road. Overall, time spent listening to online radio has also increased an impressive 49 percent in the last three years. Over the recent Christmas weekend alone, an estimated 6.8 million new Android and iOS phones and tablets were activated, more than double the previous year’s count.”  source.

More info:

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Stuxnet and the power of video

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.
An infographic styled video dissecting the nature and ramifications of Stuxnet, the first weapon made entirely out of code. This was produced for Australian TV program HungryBeast on Australia’s ABC1. Direction and Motion Graphics: Patrick Clair. Written by: Scott Mitchell; Production Company: Zapruder’s Other Films. See more of Patrick’s great work:

And here’s another great infographic styled video:
Dissecting China’s housing market
See more of Lam Thuy Vo’s great work:

Stuxnet related articles:
Defense trains sights on threat to internet
China rallies forces to focus online firepower

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It’s an awards morning

In addition to notices that both Oakland Local and Making Contact won SPJ awards, the following award winning stories also ended up in my inbox. These are great inspiration for what I’m cooking up, and much more interesting than just an 800 word text story.

LA Times: Caught in the crossfire
Minnesota Public Radio: Youth Radio Series The other welfare
Seattle Times: Invisible families

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What makes a great podcast?

As always with the subjective, I’d love to hear what you think.

Here are my thoughts:

* online script
* good photo(s) on the associated webpage
* the option of hearing a 5-30 min segment and of hearing the 30 sec – 3 min clips that make it up
* catchy, simple intro
* calm host with a clear voice
* resources – linked in the script and in the podcast
* conversational tone throughout

Here’s Paste Magazine’s list of 10 best podcasts. And then, there’s always NPR’s What Makes it Great series.

Indy favorites
Answer Me This, by Olly Mann
Kermode and Mayo, both by Spencer
The Fringe Podcast- Entertainment
UC Radio- Podsafe Music
The Audacity to Podcast- Technology
Christian Meets World- Religion Inspiration
Gamertag Radio- Gaming
Bend over and Take it- GLBT
Joe Rogan Experience- Best Video
Kid Friday- People’s Choice, Education
Inside the magic- Best Produced, Travel
Amateur Travel- Travel
File Under Horrible (FUHcast)- Comedy

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Are you the audience or the public?

How do we engage with audiences as media-makers? This has been front of mind during the last few months as I’ve worked to make sense of how to keep working with audio amidst a bad economy and amidst a shrinking media scape. Three MIT Media Center theses in the past ten years have dealt with this subject. Following is an excerpt from the 2005 thesis by Joellen Easton, High Interactivity Radio, How the Majority Report, Sean Hannity and Talk of the Nation are using the internet to build community. Not only does she address the subject, but, she does so by introducing the entire topic with the seminal FDR fireside chats. Brilliant. 

This construction of the ‘audience’ is opaque in that audience members are not identifiable as individuals: they have little agency and are not aware of fellow members other than as an ‘imagined community’ (Anderson 1991) of fellow listeners/viewers/readers...David Ryfe (2001) writes about an early example of the opacity of an audience becoming more transparent – he analyzed several hundred letters written to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to his ‘fireside chats’ over the course of 12 years.

Letter-writers expressed their representation of public opinion in two ways.  On the one hand, they conceived of their letters as adding to the sum total of the actual opinions of many individuals: ‘I feel I must add my voice to the chorus of praises…’, ‘I wish to add my appreciation to the many like expressions…’, ‘May I add a word of appreciation and congratulation to those of the other hundreds of thousands…’ ….  The rhetorical basis of such letters is their empirical accumulation.  Alone, a single congratulation for a radio message is not likely to be very meaningful.  Included with the praise of thousands, however, such letters gain rhetorical force.  They are powerful precisely because they are part of a mass opinion  (777). 

Ryfe has here located an audience acting together, not just being labeled together.  Each person wrote about their individual and unique response to Roosevelt’s chats, but in so doing added their “voice to the chorus.”  By forming a self-motivated chorus of response, the audience acted as something else: a public.  Daniel Dayan (2005) locates the difference between an audience and a public as being “not a matter of numbers.  A public is not simply a spectator in the plural, a sum of spectators, an addition.  It is a coherent entity whose nature is collective; an ensemble characterised by shared sociability, shared identity and a sense of that identity” (42).