October 2, 2015

There were two sessions devoted to learning Periscope at the Online News Association’s annual conference last week. Brooke Minters, a senior producer at AJ+, led the sessions.

AJ+ used Periscope while covering protests and riots Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, and most recently while covering refugees and migrants in Europe.

“It’s right there in your back pocket,” Minters said of the ease of livestreaming apps.

If you’re ready to give it a try, here are five tips for beginners.

1. Try to stay steady

“Otherwise the viewer can feel like they’re getting motion sickness,” Minters said. Plus: “Staying steady shows some sort of level of professionalism.”

To help, you could use a monopod or tripod if you have a phone rig, but also think about moving with the phone and from your core, she said, and not just turning with your hands.

2. Keep the commentary going

People are likely watching because you’re getting them in close, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s happening. Remind people frequently of what they’re tuning in to.

And remember to share the little details, Minters said, “the who, why, what, when, where and how, so people who are just joining know what they’re looking at and people who stayed feel like they’re involved.”

3. Movement is good

“It’s real. It’s live. People are watching it probably on their phone,” Minters said. “…It’s very authentic.”

Take your viewers with you, listen as they ask you to turn one way or another or answer questions.

“They’re experiencing it,” she said. “They’re discovering stuff just like you are.”

4. Be nimble

You’re trying to get a good shot, keep people up to date, interview people and think about questions coming in from viewers. That’s a lot to handle at one time. If you’re working with someone else, consider having them scribble questions and usernames as they come up to help you keep up with people.

And try to keep up with users and answer them directly.

“Even though it’s on a small little phone, you’re still reporting and you’re still a producer and you’ve got to remember a lot of stuff, so being nimble is one of those things.”

5. Remember to save your stream.

If you want to use what you captured again, either as B-roll or as video with a story, you have to save it. Once you stop recording, Periscope will ask if you want to save your stream. (The questions and hearts and comments that popped up live will not be saved, Minters said.)

“If you don’t do it then, you won’t be able to do it.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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