Get the Right Tools to Be a Good iReporter

By Gerard Braud 

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}

IReport Voting pageAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support is greatly appreciated.

As an iReport Evangelist, my favorite 2 iReport tools are my iPhone and my iPad. These are my favorite crisis communications tools as well.

You are welcome to use any brand of phone or tablet you like, as long as you can

1) Take video of yourself with it

2) Upload that video to the Internet.

Getting to the internet means you either need a reliable Wi-Fi signal or a good G3 or G4 signal on your device.

Raw video, also known in the news business as B-roll, is one type of image you can send to iReports. They also accept still photos. However, my favorite approach is to do a traditional television news style reporter standup. Standup is the TV term for the reporter walking and talking on camera.

Tropical Storm Lee iReportSome early generations of smart phones only allow you to use your phone screen as a video view-finder while you take a picture or video of something in front of you. Ideally, you want a smart phone or tablet that has a two-way camera — the one that allows you to hold your tablet or phone at arms length while you see yourself on the screen.

Your goal in the standup should be to make it short – usually 38 seconds. The short length makes it easy and fast to upload. Sometimes longer videos will not upload because of a lack of bandwidth, especially during a crisis or during bad weather. When doing a standup, your goal should also be to walk, talk and provide information in a quotable nugget, just as you will learn if you have ever been through a media training class. Because of this technology and demand, I’ve changed the way I teach media training classes to teach spokespeople how to walk and talk and deliver great information in a quick nugget. As you deliver your standup, you must also speak in a conversational tone and not in a stiff, rehearsed sounding voice.

Because my goal is to convert my iReports into Live interviews, I also have the right software. Skype on my iPhone and iPad, connected to the web, becomes my source for broadcasting Live. This means that you need to set up a Skype account on a clear sunny day, before you ever actually need it. Just like any other technology, you have to practice using it in order to get it right when you need it quickly in a crisis.

When I report Live for CNN, I’m asked to call one of their many Skype numbers. When I report Live for The Weather Channel, they phone my Skype number.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneThe iPad is my favorite out of my 2 devices, because I love the size of the screen and the quality of the camera. However, it is heavier and harder to hold. Some iPad cases make it easier. Several companies also make iPad tripod devices. While a tripod provides a steady image, the downside is that you are unable to walk and talk to tell your story. In rainy conditions, the iPhone is easier to keep dry. You can use a baggie with a hole cut in it for the camera.

In our next article, you will learn what types of stories get the best attention.

If you have questions, tweet me @gbraud or send an e-mail to gerard@braudcommunications.com

 

 

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Clear Sunny Day

By, Gerard Braud

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}
IReport Voting page

CNN iReports should be added to the crisis communications, media relations and social media tool kit of every corporation, government agency, and non-profit organization in the world. Should your organization experience a significant crisis that gets significant media coverage, iReports are your direct path to adding perspective and official information about your breaking news story.

Just as most of you have established an account at Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, you should have an account pre-established at www.cnn.com/ireport so it is ready to use if you need it. Unlike other social media sites, you will use this one less often.

The set up process is fast and simple. If you have created any online profile in the past you can figure it out and complete the task in 5-10 minutes.Isaac Ireport Gerard Braud

Some leaders and executives may question whether the company needs an iReport account. My philosophy is that if you experience a newsworthy crisis, you have two options.  You can either have your story told by an unofficial eyewitness on the street that has an iReport account or you can provide better video, more factual details, and dispel rumors.

Shortly after your video is filed, a team of CNN iReport producers will watch your video. if they like it, they label it as vetted by CNN. The link is then shared with producers for the various CNN news programs. If those producers like it, they may place all or part of the video on the air in their news program. If your video proves that you have great visuals, a compelling perspective and compelling information, expect to get a phone call from CNN producers, asking you to do a live report via Skype, using your computer, smart phone or tablet.

You will learn more about how to properly produce a newsworthy CNN iReport in an upcoming article. But before we go into depth on that, your assignment is to set up your official account right now.Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhone

(And if you haven’t yet done so, please click here to vote for my iReports in the iReporter of the year category. You can vote once every 24 hours and your friends and social media buddies can vote too.)

About the author: Gerard Braud has been nominated as iReporter of the Year for his In Depth coverage of Hurricane Isaac in 2012. During the hurricane his home was surrounded by 7 feet of water and he had no electricity for 5 days. Yet before, during and after the storm, he continued to file Live reports using only his iPhone and Skype. His day job is traveling the world teaching effective communications, media training and crisis communications workshops at conferences and in private corporate settings.

 

 

Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?

By, Gerard Braud

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

IReport Voting page

It is important to evacuate when an approaching hurricane is going to be a bad one. Staying in your home in destructive winds and killer flooding is dumb. Hurricane Isaac was not a strong storm and mandatory evacuations were not called. So, I decided to stay in my home on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, LA, which is 30 minutes north of New Orleans. The storm winds at the eye of the hurricane were just over 75 miles per hour, making it barely a Category  1 hurricane. The eye was forecast to pass 50 miles to the west of me, which meant the winds would not be destructive where I was. The path would push water from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, resulting in localized flooding from storm surge.

As an experienced storm chaser, my goal was to document the hurricane, from the preparation stage, through the flooding, then through the aftermath and cleanup.

My home is a small cottage, raised on steel 10-foot pilings, with steel beams. Below my house is a carport and storage area that is 5 feet above sea level. That places the floor of my living quarters 15 feet above sea level and makes for a great perch to view mother nature. The storage area is constructed with mandatory breakaway walls, which will wash away in a storm, and they did.

Two days before the hurricane I began to document the flurry of activities and preparations in the community. There were long lines at the gas stations until every pump ran dry. I documented empty grocery store shelves, as water and canned goods were snatched up. At the hardware store I documented long lines as people purchased electrical generators and filled propane tanks.

On Tuesday, August 28, 2012, the evening before the storm made landfall, I filed an iReport that showed a calm lake, a green parkway and the green grass in my yard. I explained to viewers that the next day the entire area would be underwater, which all came to pass and made for a great follow up report. That was the iReport that lead CNN Headline News (HLN) producers to ask me to do a live report on Evening Express as the hurricane made landfall on August 29. By then, electrical power had gone out and I was broadcasting live using my iPhone 4, a G3 phone signal, and Skype

Isaac Ireport Gerard BraudThe big surprise with Hurricane Isaac was that the storm stalled and stayed in the same place for nearly 2 days, all the while causing the floodwaters to get higher. A fast moving storm would have come and gone in 12 hours. This one would cause flooding from Tuesday until Sunday.

By the time we hit the air live on Evening Express on the evening of August 29, there were whitecaps rolling down my driveway. After dark I did a live report for the Dr. Drew Show. Shortly after I signed off with Dr. Drew around 9 p.m., I began to hear strange creaking noises in the house. Occasionally there were unnerving vibrations. When I turned on the faucet there was no water. This wasn’t good. #understatement. I grabbed a flashlight and walked downstairs, where I could see that the breakaway walls in the storage areas on my carport began to wash out. As they did, debris in the waves broke the water supply, leaving me without running water. Then I realized that near the water pipes were natural gas lines. #causeforconcern

I phoned a neighbor and asked if I could sleep at his house just in case mine had a gas leak. I shut off all of my pilot lights, blew out all of my hurricane lanterns and candles, grabbed my life vest and paddled my canoe to his house. By this time, the water was so deep I simply paddled over my fence.

Overnight, the eye of the storm began to move again. The morning of August 30th I paddled home to find there was no gas leak, so I filed more iReports showing the damage as the water level dropped some.

I was surprised at how much debris had washed into my yard. Then nature revealed unwanted guests. First, there were 10 alligators swimming in my yard. As it got warm, dead nutria, a large swamp rat the size of a large muskrat, began popping up out of the water. I counted 50 carcasses. As the water drained off further, it revealed a blanket of swamp grass 12-24 inches deep, filled with thousands of snakes. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie. Such anomalies mean just one thing: file more iReports and do more live reports for Evening Express and Dr. Drew.

For me, the beauty of iReports is the ability of ordinary people to take their stories right to the world’s leading news network. News happens fast and there isn’t always a professional news crew present to capture it. A citizen with an iPhone can capture and report the news even when no news crews are around.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneYou should each have an iReport. If you are a Public Information Officer (PIO), Emergency Manager, or public relations expert for a company, government agency or non-profit, you should certainly have an iReport account. In the next few articles you will learn how to establish your account, as well as how to produce news worthy videos.

Final notes

#1 Thank you for voting and sharing the voting link in your social media

#2 I would be honored to teach you the specifics of iReports as a conference presentation or as a private training program. Just download this PDF, then call me.

 

 

 

 

How a Guy in Mandeville, Louisiana Became the Source of Breaking News

By, Gerard Braud

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

IMG_0470* copyAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support is greatly appreciated.

Over the next few days you will learn the background story of how I was selected by CNN.  If you come back to this blog daily, you will learn secrets about how and why you should also be crazy about iReports and using smart phones and tablets to broadcast to the world.

CNN is recognizing me for a series of reports I filed about Hurricane Isaac 2012.

With 7 feet of floodwater surrounding my home and no electricity for 5 days during Hurricane Isaac, I was able to broadcast live to CNN using only my iPhone, G3 and Skype. Amid the rain, heat, waves, snakes, alligators, debris and dead animal carcasses, I kept broadcasting.

Because of the reports I filed from August 26-September 2, 2012, CNN producers chose my reports out of all the reports filed by 11,000 iReporters in 2012, to be recognized for continuing coverage of breaking news. The reports were seen both on the CNN iReport website and they were broadcasted by CNN and HLN to viewers around the world.

These reports took viewers into places that even CNN news crews couldn’t reach with their million dollar satellite trucks and $60,000 HD cameras.

Wow. #crazyflattered #makesmymomproud #thisisfriggincool. It is so cool to be nominated by CNN.Isaac Ireport Gerard Braud

Hopefully the experiences you will read about here will help you understand why you should be a part of iReports. You will also learn step-by-step how to do what I do.

I have been a CNN iReport evangelist since the program began. During 4 major weather events my iReports have been broadcast on CNN and on multiple occasions have lead to live broadcasts.

The first time was when I witnessed a funnel cloud during Hurricane Gilbert. I simply uploaded a short iReport with no narration to CNN. CNN showed it, then my phone rang. A friend in California called to warn me there were tornadoes near me and he had just seen it on CNN.  Ha. Funny how that worked.

CNN Ireport gerard braud snowOn December 11, 2010 we had an unusual 5-inch snow fall in the town I live in, near New Orleans. I had not sent out Christmas cards yet, so with my point and shoot camera I made a short news video about the snow, then wished everyone Merry Christmas. I uploaded the video to iReports. Their producers vetted the report and confirmed it was real. They edited off my Christmas greeting, then used the rest of the video all day long to run before every weather report. That was really cool.

CNN asked me to do a live report via Skype, but that got canceled because of breaking news. That was the day the body of Caylee Anthony was found in the woods, leading to the murder trial of the child’s mother, Casey Anthony.

In August of 2011, Tropical Storm Lee came through New Orleans and my little town of Mandeville, LA. A week before, I had moved into a new house on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The storm surge filled my yard with 5 feet of water. Using my iPad and WiFi, I shot a 90 second news report, then uploaded it to iReports. Within minutes, producers were asking me to do live reports. With an iPad as my broadcast camera and WiFi as my broadcast channel, I was on the air for 2 days.

These 3 events set the stage for Hurricane Isaac in August 2012 and the series of reports for which I was nominated. You will learn more details in our next article.