(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)
My goal in these tutorials is to first encourage public relations professionals, corporate spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIOs) to file CNN iReports as part of your crisis communications strategy and media relations plan. My second goal is for CNN to then reach out to you and extend an invitation for you to be interviewed live, on the air, during one of the CNN or HLN news programs.
These days, they will likely ask you to be interviewed via Skype.
If you are unfamiliar with Skype, visit www.skype.com and download the free application for you computer, smart phone and smart tablet.
The app allows you to make regular phone calls to regular telephone numbers, or it allows you to make a call from computer to computer with voice only, or you can set up a video chat from computer to computer.
CNN and the other news outlets want you to know how to set up the video chat.
Start by downloading the app. Next, set up your profile. Much like most social media sites, you can add your contact information and a photo.
CNN producers will then either call you or ask you to call them at an assigned time, during the news program. When it is time to go live, your Skype call is what the audience at home will see.
The quality of the image on Skype varies, based on the strength of your internet signal. Sometimes the image may freeze while you are live on the air. Sometimes the call will get dropped completely.
The networks know they are taking a risk when they do a Skype call, but if your location and event is news worthy and they have no news crew of their own nearby, they are willing to take the risk.
In one of my previous tutorials I mentioned that a set of ear buds or a USB headset can be useful during your live report. If you use these, you will need to find the audio button on the Skype software and select input and output for the headsets, rather than using the computer or smart device’s external speakers and microphone.
The secret to getting it right is to practice on a clear sunny day, rather than attempting to learn the hard way under the time constraints of a crisis and significant news event. Set up your account, study the account until you know all of the buttons you need to push, then establish a call between you and a colleague so you can practice.
During your practice, you’ll want to incorporate many of the other lessons you’ve learned through these tutorials, including managing audio, lighting and movement, as well as what to say.
This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.
If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.