Digital Cities North East

Some hastily written notes about social media, short-form video and investigative journalism...

Held in the National Glass Centre … and this boat was opposite it
Held in the National Glass Centre … and this boat was opposite it

I went to one of the BBC Academy’s Digital Cities events in Sunderland in October 2017. I made it to four sessions which covered short-form video, social media branding, data and investigative journalism and, of course, keeping your content legal.

I took a lot of notes which are all living in my workspace at the moment, but you can read them. Here are the main takeaways though.

Short-form video 🎥

talk by Rowan Kerek Robertson - @row

Some tropes work better than others: is it cute or an epic fail? Does it make you lol? Did it make you say OMG? Was there a great lifehack or will you talk about it around the watercooler?

Half of all YouTube views are on mobile phones so make the video work for small screens.

Create evergreen content which can keep gaining views after a news story stops being topical. Make video formats repeatable and sustainable - could you shoot three in a day?

Get their attention in the first three to five seconds and Make the video work without sound.

Rowan Kerek Robertson, who led the session, has written more about it here

Build your brand with social media 📱

talk by Rowan Kerek Robertson - @row

Be shareable, discoverable, accessible, consistent and authentic

When writing a great post you need to be clear, stand out and engage people. Attention-grabbing images, calls to action, relatable sentiments or a moment that people can join in with can elevate your content.

Make sure you have a plan. Some common goals are to promote, engage, extend or distribute content.

Tailor your content to perennial trends and use tags and descriptions to make your content easy to find.

Collaborate with other makers or influencers but make any collaboration relevant to them and their audience.

Find out who your core audience are then decide on your target audience.

Develop a tone of voice for your social media accounts.

Always pass social media posts by two pairs of eyes 👀

Digital techniques for investigative journalism 📈

talk by Neil Macfarlane - @ByNeilMac

Looking for data?

Try to find reports of crime for your area.

The Government publishes reams of official data every day while the Office of National Statistics can be the best place to go if you need to factcheck stories.

All MPs have their expenses claims published online regularly by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and has data about how MPs vote and perform in the House of Commons.

talk by Carole Watson - @CazzaW

Just buy a copy of McNae’s :)

My notes are a very distant second so I’d just read them directly if you’re interested.

Please don’t depend upon them when trying to challenge a reporting restriction, call the duty lawyer!