5 Tips for Live Blogging and Tweeting the Election [VIDEO]

Oct 12, 2012

Live online election coverage helps create a more informed public by reaching them, and joining them, where they are.

That is why New Hampshire Public Radio does a mix of live blogging, live tweeting and live Facebook updates on big election nights, Brady Carlson shared in a webinar Oct. 11.

Carlson and NPR Digital Elections Editor Erica Ryan shared that and more in an hour filled with lessons learned, tips and ideas for stations who want to take on their own live online coverage this election season. Watch the webinar and scan through the five takeaways below.

How to Live Blog the Election from NPR Digital Services on Vimeo.

1) Focus

An attendee asked what should a station do that has never done any live blogging, tweeting or chatting before. Carlson and Ryan agreed that focusing is key. Don't try to do it all. Choose one thing, and do it well. Choose based on your staff's strengths, and the local topics that are important to your community. Remember to choose a coverage plan that will be unique and local. This can take patience: NHPR has spent almost a decade building up their live online coverage one piece at a time, Carlson shared.

2) Prepare

When there is advance notice, prepare as best as you can for a live blog, chat or social media. Establish who will play what role, assemble background information, lists of social media accounts and more. NPR bloggers pull together source links, relevant fact checks and news feeds they'll need ahead of time so they are ready to go on the night of an event.

3) Engage the Audience Early

Promote that there will be live coverage early so people will actually use it. And make sure to engage your audience early - ask them to submit questions, share thoughts and information as they head to the polls or to watch a debate. There are many ways to do that. For example, NHPR uses Public Insight Network to get submissions, while NPR uses social media and their blogs.

4) Coordinate On-Air and Online

Early coordination between on-air and online plans is key to NHPR's election coverage. The coverage is not always the same, but the radio, site and social media should compliment each other and equal one informative and useful resource for the audience. Keep that coordination going during the event - NPR and NHPR both use variations of internal chat tools, as well as physical set ups that place all the participants together in one space.

5) Recap What Works... and What Doesn't

There will be more elections and more news topics that will be best served with a live blog, chat or tweets. Don't forget to look back soon after you tried out live online coverage to see what worked and didn't. Take a look at your metrics, as well as engagement and internal and external feedback. Refocus, and prepare for next time.

How to Live Blog the Election from nprdigital