They say there are a couple of rules about launching a brand new website. 1. Don't launch on a Friday and 2. Don't try doing other things at the same time!
Well we like a challenge at Mentor! So myself and our talented, dedicated team here, launched our brand spanking new Media Training website on the same morning that we became the country’s first media and crisis training provider to also launch a Facebook Live broadcast and Periscope event!
Ably supported by our digital marketing and video production teams, our crisis communications consultant Magnus Carter and I, transmitted two live broadcasts simultaneously to two sets of potentially global audiences. Perhaps they should now be dubbed, 'Facecasts'?!
Why were we, a media training and reputation management organisation, mad enough to try this on a stressful enough day, when so much could’ve gone wrong?
Our thinking is that we can't inform our clients on fast moving changes in the media and news media landscape, unless we embrace the latest cutting edge technology, techniques and developments, ourselves. Like many of our training contemporaries, we are also quick to remind our clients that modern media channels represent an opportunity to get you and your message out there, often when stress levels may be high, or when you are in the grip of a crisis.
So you could say, that alongside our website ‘go live’, we were ‘walking our talk’.
From a thought leadership perspective, it was also an experiment that was to augur well for our next media training sessions – informing clients that, having done it ourselves, traditional media channels are not necessarily the ‘be-all and end-all’ in getting your message out there.
The presentation and media skills in which we coach our public and private sector clients, can be deployed in any number of environments, online video having been a popular method for a while – but taking the plunge with your own live online video forum for internal and external comms, can be pretty liberating, as well as a tad daunting.
With people dipping in and out of our Facebook live and Periscope broadcasts from places as diverse as Brazil or Brisbane, this interactive, visual piece of crisis media training took the webinar concept to a new level.
We had some pertinent questions about recent high profile crises, for which we were equipped to respond live. Although it’s worth noting that a flurry of messages on Facebook can leave your presenters/panel struggling to keep a handle on the incoming comments.
The key to this is in nominating a colleague to be the live moderator – and it really works. To find out how we achieved it technically and reached more than 5000 people, read on.
If you’d like support to make your company’s live or recorded webinar/Facebook live as professional an event as possible, get in touch.
This is why Mentor Media Training has become the first UK media skills training company to produce live Facebook and Twitter broadcasts. By actually practising what we preach, we can demonstrate how easy these events are to accomplish and how clients can take ownership of their message, through their own channels. Why wouldn't you broadcast directly to your target audiences?
It’s been a smart move by Facebook as a piece of B2B engagement, as I had no plans to use our Facebook training page for business engagement any time soon – LinkedIn and Twitter being our preferred channels. Facebook Live has been that game changer, as a disruptive technology, which some say challenges the very future of broadcast TV and news.
It can change the way you think about mass media too - but you'll still need the media and presentation skills to carry it off.
How We Did Our Facebook Live? The DO’s
- The first issue to grasp is what do you want to say and to whom? Deciding on your content is the most important part of doing one of these ‘live’ broadcasts.
- Work with your marketing and digital team to inform and engage with audiences, contacts and clients who may be interested in your area of expertise/ topic for transmission.
- Set a date and time - book a guest/presenter, to keep the event moving and find a suitably video friendly area in which to broadcast from. The backdrop is important, as is removal of extraneous noises; phones, aircraft, air con and so on. Crucially, once promoted and booked – stick to it! Also, don’t overrun - 20-30 minutes is probably more than enough time if you structure your event.
- Do go live ON TIME. Imagine if your favourite tv show didn’t start at 9pm, or Eastenders went on air at 7:35? Pretty annoying and you’ll lose viewers' interest.
- Wear clothing which doesn’t distract from your message – pastels, bold colours for ladies, no tight checks or stripes. No black or white.
- Have a running order of items to include to discuss, with examples, just like in a news bulletin. The Facebook Live and Periscope set up is pretty rudimentary on smartphones/tablets, so I printed out some large colour pictures of the folk we were discussing, to make the 'talking head on a sofa' element, more interesting to watch.
- Keep to bullet points and notes, not a script, unless you’re good at learning lines. Autocue can be fiddly and you have to be a seasoned operator to be effective – even with the free mobile i-prompt apps. People expect it a bit rough and ready around the edges, as long as it hangs together content-wise.
- Consider paying a small fee to 'boost' your Facebook live events to reach more of your targeted audience.
- Think about the lighting, how you are sat, ie, not too in profile, and the number of participants. Use props if you have them and they are relevant and entertaining.
- There's a bit to think about technically, if you haven’t tried these before, bearing in mind we were broadcasting on two channels. So here’s a technical crib sheet to get you going;
Firstly, make sure you have excellent wifi /4G connection on your phones/tablets, otherwise Facebook will not respond.
- Plug in 1 or 2 microphones into the headphone socket to get the best possible sound, (NB: you will need to have smartphone compatible microphones or interface unit. We use the iRig which lets us plug in two mics)- this is vital!
- Our training room and studio is a little echoey, so try to make sure the room doesn’t sound like an aircraft hangar.
- Ensure mobiles are fully charged – going live chews through battery like a rabid dog, in just half an hour.
- If using Periscope, ensure it is connected to the right Twitter account for your business – this can be fiddly.
- A top tip if taking live questions with a moderator. The moderator is rather like a tv/radio producer, feeding you the comments and questions. Make sure they’re briefed and understand what you want from the session to field the relevant ones.
- We used instant messaging via Skype to send me the questions which our moderator Ollie, cut and pasted from Facebook – he kept two screens open simultaneously, sometimes re-typing questions quickly to get them through to me on the sofa. Other instant-messaging is available! We invited questions on both channels during the chat.
- Remember unlike real TV, I had no gallery talkback in my ear, so one very useful means of checking that we were still live without looking too silly, was to keep a laptop open showing a full screen monitor of our live feed, which was delayed by up to 20 seconds. Although a bit disconcerting, it’s a more professional, belt-and-braces way to check you’re still ‘live’, rather than being caught asking.
- Do a quick test first on your personal account to check sound, lighting and connectivity. Remember, Facebook allows you to post, embed and keep your broadcast on your page, while Periscope will post the broadcast to Twitter.
- Don’t forget to name tag your event on Facebook and Periscope when prompted and get ready for your Go-live in plenty of time.
We used two iphones to broadcast, securely fastened to mono-pods right next to one another, a third ipad for me to receive questions, a fourth laptop for a video monitor, a fifth for the moderator and a sixth set up on skype to fast-type the instant-messaging. But you can still do it on one iphone!
The other factor is you don’t have to be an experienced TV broadcaster – time goes very quickly, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the adrenaline carries you through.
It’s been an extremely insightful and eye opening initiative for us.
We are already planning more of these live events in the coming months, so look out on our Facebook page and here on our website, for more engaging interactive video content.