OPB's Think Out Loud Shares How To Make Digital Manageable On A Tight Schedule

Mar 20, 2014

Think Out Loud host Dave Miller.
Credit John Rosman/OPB

Here at Digital Services, we're checking in with shows around the country about their digital best practices and strategies. 

One show that’s doing an admirable job of engaging it’s audience on Twitter and on their website is Oregon Public Radio’s midday show, Think Out Loud. I spoke with Dave Blanchard, one of the show’s producers, and John Rosman, a digital producer at OPB who works with the show, about how TOL tackles their digital responsibility.

Quality over Quantity:

If you are short on time and need to get content online, John recommends focusing your energy. “People complaining there’s not enough content is much better than them saying your content sucks,” John said.

The team identifies content that will likely do well online during the pitching process and leaves extra time to build it out from the start. Then they add visuals, new developments and great quotes to round out the post or promote the content on Facebook and Twitter.

Commit to Only What You Have Time For:

The team curates great on air quotes with the hashtag #onTOL.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

It’s also important not to overextend yourself on social media. “By investing ourselves in one thing, we know we’re capable of it and doing it very well, and have the staff to spend time there,“ Dave said. With their staff size and time, they have decided to commit to one social media platform – Twitter – and make it a central part of the production.

  • Pick What’s Best For You: There isn’t one perfect social media site for every show. TOL chose Twitter because it allow them to get better engagement, and reach a larger audience than on commenting platform Disqus or on Facebook.
  • Do It Well: They make sure to always share social media information with guests, and use their guests (and their affiliated organizations) handles and hashtags while tweeting for the segment. They also have follow Fridays and send guests thank you tweets after being on the show.

 Experiment Wisely:

Think Out Loud started a Tumblr blog for it's ongoing "Our Town" project.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

Focusing on one social media site doesn’t mean the team isn’t open to experimentation. When TOL started visiting communities throughout Oregon and Southern Washington, the team gathered photos from all the towns they were visiting, and collected them on a Tumblr blog, which also linked to a Google map. The project started out great – but without an end date or someone to watch over the project, it quickly became burdensome and fizzled. With every experiment they have learned to set a clear start and end date, and evaluate the projects to make sure they’re worthy of the time invested on their end. 

You can follow Dave, John and Think Out Loud on Twitter. Or check out the show's Facebook page

To read more about how some shows are putting tips like these into action, read our conversation with WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show and NHPR's Word Of Mouth. Have a suggestion for a post or show to talk to? Email it to EJohnson1@npr.org or tweet it to us @NPRDS.