16 December 2009

Could a "Mobile first" strategy work for your newsroom?

Here’s a little experiment – next time you’re commuting on a train or bus, or waiting for a flight, look at your fellow travellers. How many are reading newspapers? Now how many are fiddling with their mobile phones?

Steve Buttry of Poynter Online would argue it’s probably more of them and this is one of the reasons that led him to call for a mobile-first news strategy.

Since writing that first article, he’s now devised an actual plan on how a mobile-orientated newsroom could operate. Those toying with iPhone apps and SMS subscriptions may want to pay attention.

Says Buttry: “A successful mobile-first strategy will require effective work by reporters, photojournalists, designers, technologists, sales and marketing people, and management.”

So far, so obvious.

But he adds: “The mobile-first strategy needs to embrace new relationships with the community”, as described in his blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

“That principle,” he says, “is fundamental to mobile-first success.”

What then follows is an incredibly detailed breakdown of each aspect of the mobile news strategy, broken down into Reporting, Writing and Photojournalism, Design, Technology, Sales and Marketing, Leadership and Training.

For example journalists, he argues, need to become fluent in metadata, giving the mobile phone the context of the story so it knows what to give the user when and where.

As for the moneymen, Buttry advises them that any service needs not to be too intrusive, especially location-based advertising, lest the audience devise ways of turning it off.

He also suggests that organisations must be careful not to use just a single mobile tool, such as a mobile website or iPhone application, and therefore miss opportunities such as local business sponsorship for breaking news alerts or e-newsletters.

Even if “mobile first” isn’t for your newsroom, there is certainly enough here to enhance whatever use you do want to make of mobile technology.

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