Digital Editors Happy Hour

At the ONA conference, I talked to a lot of people who were desperate to discuss cross-team collaboration strategies for project managers, product managers, multimedia editors, and other occupiers of the online space who work with various teams. I met with Sarah Portlock for lunch after my session, and we decided to start a group that meets and talks about these things.

Our first meeting was a success! Some highlights are as follows: 

One question that came up was: “What are ways we can make words more visually interesting?”

A difficulty many digital managers face is how to present projects to managers, colleagues and editors. Some suggestions put forward were as follows:

  • A/B testing, if your newsroom supports that

  • Publish it anyway but in a lower spot on a story page

  • Show them data!

  • Competitive analysis and intelligence — show what our competitors are doing

How to get started as a PM? Know your process. There can be two kinds: one think of all the possibilities, the other wants specific steps to get to an end goal

Another discussion topic was social media strategy. Some strategies put forward were the following:

  • Twitter is most popular around lunchtime/early afternoon, 1-3 p.m.

  • Twitter is primarily comprised of influencers and journalists – your average person is on Facebook

  • Weekend tweets: think of when YOU are on Twitter/Facebook/etc and line up ways to share your stories then

  • Look at numbers beyond clicks: RTs, expands, other ways to show engagement

  • NPR is using Facebook and Twitter conversations for big events, Instagram for reporters to publish portraits of their story subjects

  • White House digital office is helping open up social process for agencies

How do we get colleagues, editors, etc. to communicate their ideas to us?

  • Let people know we exist

  • Remind people to talk to us, not just when something is broken

  • Relatability: explain why you want to do X and how it will help them (colleagues, your audience, etc.)

  • Find your people to run interference (or run interference yourself), your cross-cultural person whom everyone can trust

Premise of the group:

We’re gathering multimedia news people — product managers, web editors, multimedia producers — who work across digital teams to make things happen and talk about what exactly it is that we do. The idea sprouted from ONA in September 2015 when we realized we could learn more about our own jobs and responsibilities by talking openly with each other.

What works at your organization when it comes to coordinating teams to produce the best projects we can? What doesn’t? How did you learn to organize the chaos?

Other topics on our minds:
– What are ways we bridge teams? (Should we sit together? What’s the best way to learn a team’s individual language?)
– What are your tricks for learning everything you need to know about a team in order to best guide it?
– How do you gather and keep track of all the elements and assets published across your organization?
– How can we apply structure to storytelling that’s helpful to the makers and not stifling?
– How can we learn from our work and apply it to future projects?