July 2, 2018

This week we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, mostly by donning American flag clothing, horking down hot dogs and comforting our pets as the fireworks pop.

Because the holiday lands exactly in the middle of the week this year, I’m expecting news to be slow on the other weekdays and setting aside some time for long-term planning. Maybe you are, too. In that case, here are three ideas to consider.

IMMERSIVE STORYTELLING PROJECTS: Projects that allow users to interact with visuals, audio and data can have big payoffs, but also big risks. How do you stay organized? Work with developers? Ensure audiences are leaving with the takeaways you intended? NPR has answers, and now we do, too, because they published their playbook for immersive storytelling projects. The step-by-step guide is available online or in a printable PDF.

EVERGREEN CONTENT: Most newsrooms have rich archives of good stuff that still has value for audiences. The problem is identifying and surfacing that information. But Atlantic 57, the consulting and creative division of The Atlantic (which, with articles from Mark Twain and Martin Luther King Jr., has rich archives of its own), has some ideas. First, focus on timely deep dives, greatest hits, and deserving underperformers. Then make smart resurfacing part of your daily strategy through planning, collaborating and empowering.

PUSHING MISSED CONTENT: Ever publish something you’re sure your audience will eat up, only to watch that Chartbeat dial barely move? Feels bad. There are creative ways to attempt a second take at getting it in front of audiences. The Washington Post’s The Week In Ideas, which bills itself as “a little bit off the news,” is one good example. Yesterday’s edition explained: “The idea of this newsletter is that, in the rush of events, you may miss or set aside some of the best opinion pieces we publish.” I hadn’t seen any of them, and I clicked on a lot of them.

Digital News to Know

NONCOMPLIANT: “Pretty much everyone is breaking the law right now.” That’s one media analyst’s assessment of how publishers are dealing with GDPR. And all those emails we got? “Entirely unnecessary and noncompliant.” When in doubt, be as explicit as possible. Simply reskinning existing opt-in forms or using easily-ignored banners isn’t enough.

TOOLTIP: It’s possible that I’m the last person to know that it’s possible to make a screen recording on an iOS device without plugging it into something else. Just go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and tap the plus next to the Screen Recording button to add it to the control center (accessible by swiping up from any screen). Just don’t go recording my Instagram Stories.

TO # OR NOT TO #: Should publishers use hashtags? A study from Newswhip, a service that monitors social media for publishers and marketers, found that… it sort of depends. Event-oriented hashtags such as #USOpen can amplify a publisher’s reach, especially if it’s a topic that a news publisher is already known for. And use them before and after an event instead of just tweeting them at peak times. There’s no tried and true method for choosing a hashtag to use. The best bet is to do a little research. Newswhip has more on tracking competitors and finding user-generated content using hashtags.

SHARE THIS AUDIO: What’s the most effective way to share audio on social networks? The people behind a tool I love, Headliner, just put that question to the test. They posted Facebook ads for an interview with Ellen DeGeneres with a static image and link, a video with animated captions and a video with a static image and animated captions (essentially an audiogram). The last one won by a notable margin. Podcasters and audio folks, take heed.

ARTIFICIAL PURCHASE: Facebook is reportedly buying a British artificial intelligence company to beef up its fake news arsenal. The company is known for software called Cape that helps AI answer user questions with information gleaned from documents. Q: Should I post fake news? A: No.

Good Work Worth Reading

The New York Times put together another great interactive story, this one about how inflation and poor economic policy under President Nicolás Maduro have effectively rendered Venezuela's currency useless. This one is a series of photos and videos with captioned narration and effective ambient sound.

Rashida Jones directed a short “public service announcement” about sexual harassment in the workplace. Donald Glover narrates. Oh, and she published it on Instagram. If the medium is the message, this couldn’t be much more effective.

The Wall Street Journal created (and appears to be regularly updating) an interactive infographic about which teams in the World Cup are the most American, since the U.S. failed to make it this year. Here’s today’s latest match, Belgium vs. Japan (Belgium is more American and also who I’m rooting for this year, though not because of that similarity).

Try This! is powered by Google News Initiative. It is also supported by the American Press Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of Poynter.org. He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
Ren LaForme

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