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Integrate distributed content into the newsroom process

Sparking a cultural shift toward distributed content within a newsroom can prove especially challenging for smaller, regional, and more traditional publishers, some of whom even still maintain separate print and digital staff.

One good starting point for such publishers is to get traditional editorial staff involved in content creation on new platforms. This could be as simple as giving an old-school photographer the keys to a new Instagram account, as National Geographic and USA Today have. Find or hire people knowledgeable about these new platforms and allow them to educate those who are more unfamiliar. Make sure to educate old timers in a positive way by showing them the benefits of these new mediums.

Another important step is to make sure social media staff are integrated into the story-creation process. Don’t simply involve them after the fact by asking them to promote published articles on platforms. Storyboard feature stories collaboratively and involve the social staff in breaking news coverage, which increasingly plays out on social media.

Make sure social media staff are integrated into the story-creation process.

Even the most enthusiastic journalists will still struggle to embrace new platforms without the right tools. For instance, build a Facebook Live kit for reporters in the field and tell them exactly what type of content they should be producing. This could include providing reporters with a mobile phone, small iPhone rig with a light and wireless microphone that would allow them to shoot high quality video on the fly.

Explain to journalists what the company is trying to achieve on different platforms and what type of content you’d like them to replicate, rather than just expecting them to figure it out. “Giving reporters examples can go a long way” said Rubina Fillion, digital engagement editor at The Intercept.

Whenever a publisher is trying to keep up with a new publishing shift, one valuable method is identifying those in your newsroom who have already embraced those platforms. This means publishers should be asking people about their own consumption, and should ask what these people would need to supercharge their efforts. Find your advocates and allies and work with them.

Management buy-in is also key. It’s very hard for large corporations to innovate or evolve without key buy in from the top. Try to foster an open dialogue with management at your company about the changing nature of consumption habits. This might best be achieved by framing things positively. For instance, come to senior leaders with new ideas and opportunities on emerging platforms that could lead to direct audience growth or revenue. Highlight some current successes and provide hard numbers. Be respectful, but persistent in your approach.

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