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CNN iReport Tutorials Index

(Perspective: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is an index of a series of 23 lessons 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.)

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Click here to read Lesson #1 Why Be An iReporter 

 

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Click here to read Lesson #2 Game Changers in Crisis Communication and iReporting

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Click here to read Lesson #3 Set Up Your IReporter Account 

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Click here to read Lesson #4 What is News?

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Click here to watch Lesson #5 Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?

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Click here to read Lesson #6 Get the Right Tools to be a CNN iReporter

 

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Click here to read Lesson #7 How a Guy in Mandeville, Louisiana Became a Source of Breaking News 

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Click here to read Lesson #8 How and Why to tell a Compare and Contrast Story 

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Click Here to Read Lesson #9 What to Say in Your iReport

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Click here to read Lesson #10 Manage the Expectations of Your Audience

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Click here to read Lesson #11 Where You Should Look When Using an iPad or Iphone for an iReport

Tutorial 12 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #12 Good Lighting for Your iReport

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #13 How to Manage Your Audio

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Click here to read Lesson #14 How to Properly Frame Your Video 

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Click here to read Lesson #15 When to use earbuds and headsets

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Click here to read Lesson #16 How and Why to Plan Movement in Your iReport

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Click here to read Lesson #17 The Secrets to Using Skype for a Live CNN Interview 

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Click here to read Lesson #18 Secrets to a Professional Reporter Style “Standup” While Holding Your IPhone at Arm’s Length 

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Click here to read Lesson #19 How to Shoot Great B-Roll  

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Click here to read Lesson #20 Learn Why Crap is King When it Comes to TV 

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Click here to read Lesson #21 Get Great New iReporter Gadgets 

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Click here to read Lesson #22 Keep it Short

 

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Click here to read Lesson #23 Final Thoughts on How You Can be an Award Winning iReporter

Dark Day Crisis Planning Must Begin on a Sunny Day

By Gerard Braud

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Few organizations in the world face the communications challenges of America’s Rural Electric Cooperatives.

On any given day customers could be protesting over electric rates. Workers could be under attack for disconnecting service. Board members could be scrutinized for per diems, travel or expenses. Add to that the growing influence of negative social media comments and big city media covering more co-op controversies, and you have a storm brewing. That storm demands effective communications from all executives, board members, and co-op public relations teams.

Here are three steps every cooperative should take:

Step 1: Annual Media Training with Good Key Message Writing

There is no excuse, in this modern age of media, for any executive, board member or public relations person to mess up when talking to the media. But it still happens.

Many rural people tend to be friendly, honest and sometimes too chatty. Unfortunately many executives, board members and public relations people mistake the gift of gab for the ability to be an effective communicator with the media. Many board members mistakenly believe the respect they get from their status in their communities will transfer to respect from the media. That isn’t true. The fact is many of the habits you have in everyday conversation have to be avoided when talking with a reporter.

Don’t worry, there is hope. The secret is to set aside one day every year to sit down in front of a television camera with a media training coach to practice realistic interview scenarios.

Since most reporters really do not fully understand the history and inner workings of cooperatives, your media training must adopt the newest innovations in training. Never settle for training that provides only bullet points as talking points. This outdated method leads to bad ad-libs and ugly quotes.

Modern training requires a library of pre-written quotes, learned and internalized by each executive, board member and spokesperson. When written properly, internalized, and practiced, these verbatim sentences provide context, information and strong quotes.  These are all elements reporters need in their story. Also, when written in a conversational sentence structure, these sentences are easy to work into everyday conversations by leaders and employees alike.

Consider that many executives who are interviewed complain that they are taken out of context and misquoted. A well-worded, pre-planned opening sentence delivered by the spokesperson can serve as a pre-amble statement that provides context to your cooperative’s goals and purpose. This forever eliminates the issue of being taken out of context.

With annual media training you will be a good spokesperson for good news, as well as when you have to speak to the media during a crisis.

Step 2: Write a Strong Crisis Communications Plan

The worst time to deal with a crisis is during the crisis. The best time is on a clear sunny day.

  • During good times, your cooperative must conduct a vulnerability assessment to identify all potential crises.
  • You must write a crisis communications plan that chronologically tells you every step you must take to effectively communicate during the crisis.
  • You must write a preliminary fill-in-the-blank statement to use in the first hour of your crisis when facts are still being determined.
  • You must create a more detailed news release style statement for each potential crisis that you identified in your vulnerability assessment.

Katrina Media_0318If you identify 100 potential crises, then you need to write 100 potential news releases, using evergreen facts, fill in the blanks and multiple-choice options. This is best done through a facilitated writing retreat with your communications team.

A classic mistake cooperatives make is to prepare communications only for natural disasters, power outages and worker injury. A modern crisis communications plan must also cover smoldering crises such as executive misbehavior, discrimination, financial mismanagement, per diems, and even crises involving social media.

When pre-written on a clear sunny day, these documents are ready for quick release to the media, employees, customers, the Internet and other key audiences. This process is not easy and is time consuming, but it pays huge dividends during your crisis. Many organizations experience a crisis, then in the midst of it, look at a blank word document and try to spontaneously draft a statement. The statement then goes through unprecedented scrutiny and rewrites, resulting in massive delays. In the modern age of fast communications, this is lunacy. You should never put off until tomorrow what you can write today.

Writing your Crisis Communications Plan is the perfect way to get all employees, executives, and board members on the same page. On a clear sunny day you can all agree on the policies and procedures that need to be followed for effective crisis communications. Make sure your plan goes beyond standard operating procedures.  Also, make sure it doesn’t rely on only the expertise of your public relations team. The plan must be so thorough that nothing in the process is forgotten, yet easy enough to understand and follow that it can be executed by anyone who can read.

Step 3: Hold an Annual Crisis Drill

Too many cooperatives make the mistake of thinking their executives can wing it in a crisis. They think a gift of gab equates to being a great spokesperson. They also think that knowledge of the business equips them to manage a crisis and the communications for that crisis.

The secret to getting it right on your darkest day is to set aside time on a clear sunny day to hold a crisis drill. During your drill your emergency managers can run a table-top exercise. Your communications team and executives act out a real-time exercise, complete with news conferences, using role players to portray the media.

DSC_0011When done correctly, a drill exposes bad decision-making, bad behavior and outright incompetence among responders, spokespeople and those in leadership roles. Conversely, annual drills teach your team members how to effectively work together during a crisis. Team members are taught to achieve effective communications while also working to end the crisis.

As your facilitator prepares your drill scenario, make sure you include realistic elements of social media, since social media can spread good and bad news faster and further than the reach of traditional media.

Conclusion

As more cities sprawl into rural areas, they bring more homes and electric customers into your cooperative territory. The sprawl also brings more media attention and more scrutiny of your operations.

The best way to prepare for the increased attention you will get, is to plan on a clear sunny day and never to wait for the dark clouds to roll in.

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Type in the coupon code: CRISISCOMPLAN

About the author: Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC has helped organizations on 5 continents communicate more effectively with the media, employees and customers in good times and bad. He facilitates writing retreats and workshops to help cooperatives write and complete their crisis communications plans in just 2 days. He also trains cooperative board members and leaders on how to become effective spokespeople.

{Attendees at 2014 NRECA CEO Close-up can download a copy of the handouts hereAttendees at the 2013-Leader-Fan-PowerSouth can download a copy of the handouts here: Attendees at 2013-HitsFan-OK-Coops: Attendees for MREA Co-op Communicators Meeting can download your handouts here: Attendees at the NRECA Connect 2013 can download a copy of the handout here: Braud-NRECA-Handout.}

Learn to Use the Technology You Need for Crisis Communications Using Your Smart Phone

By Gerard Braud

Braud Communications Technology Crisis{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.}

Everything you need to do in a crisis, you can practice on a clear sunny day. This is especially true using when iReports as part of your crisis communications strategy.

You need to know how to record yourself with your iPhone, iPad or other smart device. Take your device out on a clear sunny day and practice shooting videos. Practice uploading it to YouTube and other social media sites. You will quickly discover it is not as easy as you would think. Often your first problem is that your video is too long to upload. You’ll find that sometimes your bandwidth limits the size of the files you can upload. Other times your internet service provider has limits on file sizes. Discover what the stumbling blocks are on a clear day, because you can quickly lose 30 minutes to an hour of time trying to sort through your technical difficulties. If you need to get a video report filed quickly, you are out of luck when the technical problems start. Speed is a critical part of crisis communications, so don’t let your lack of practice impede your speed.

youtubeWhile teenagers use phones easily and quickly, it never ceases to amaze me how many adults do not know how to do relatively simple things, such as how to reverse the direction of the video camera. You want to have a device that allows you to have a camera facing you while you can see yourself on your own screen.

You also need to spend a significant amount of time learning to use Skype. If you are asked to do a live news report from your iPhone or other smart device, the media will want to call you or will want you to call them on Skype. Little mistakes here also slow you down significantly. When the media is on a tight deadline and they’ve blocked out a window of time for you, you can’t miss your time slot. Hence, set up Skype on your device on a clear sunny day, then practice receiving video calls and making video calls.

Visit Skype.com to get the app for your device or download it from your app store. Much like your social media apps, you’ll need a login and password. There is also a slight learning curve, like there is with any new app. The only way to get use to your Skype app is to use your Skype app. Get a colleague to set up their device also, so you can practice. Learn to use the buttons correctly so you will know the difference between a traditional phone call and a video call.

Additionally, Skype will give you the option in the audio preferences settings to use the microphone and speakers on your device, or to plug in headsets or ear buds. If you use headsets, you need to know what buttons to push so that Skype feeds the sound into your headphones, rather than your speakers, as well as how to make sure what you say is being picked up by the dedicated microphone, rather than the devices microphone. Your device may automatically convert to headphones and a dedicated microphone on its own when you plug them into your audio plug, but you won’t know until you test it out.

Try it both ways and see which one you like the best. If you are in a noisy location when you record your video and when you are broadcasting live, headphones and a microphone are a must.

Practice using the technology. Once you have the technology perfected, we will start focusing on tips to make you great on camera.

Here are the links to other articles on this topic:

Get the Right Technology to be a CNN iReporter

Crisis Communications for West Texas Fertilizer Plant in Waco: Why PIOs, Emergency Managers, and PR people should be using CNN iReports

IReports for Public Relations and Crisis Communications: Why Your Company or Government Organization Should Create a CNN iReport Account Today

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the MediaIsaac Ireport Gerard Braud

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

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

And thank you for your daily votes at http://www.cnn.com/ireport-awards/#nom=indepth

Get the Right Technology to be a CNN iReporter

By Gerard Braud

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhone{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.}

In one of our earlier articles we talked about buying the right type of smart phone or tablet to be a good iReporter. But in addition to your hardware technology that you may already have as a corporate communicator or government Public Information Officer (PIO), you need the right software and the right technology for transmitting your reports.

Start with Skype, the free web broadcasting software available at skype.com

The networks all depend upon Skype as their pathway to you. Over time, they may adopt other options, including FaceTime on iPhones and iPads. But at the time I’m writing this, Skype is their number one choice.

Skype is not perfect. Occasionally the signal is blurry or the image will freeze. Sometimes there is a lag time in which your news media and their audience can hear your voice, but the video image lags behind the sound.

The quality of Skype is often dependent upon the quality of your phone signal or your internet connection signal. Skype can be used on your desktop computer, laptop, smart phone or smart tablet. As you know, WiFi signals can be fickle; sometimes you have a great signal and minutes later your signal is weak. In many crises, you will not have electricity and therefore not have an internet signal or a WiFi signal. If phone systems are still working and if the system isn’t over loaded, you can operate Skype on your smart phone or tablet using a telephone G3 or G4 signal.

Hurricane Isaac Gerard Braud CNNWhen I filed my reports during Hurricane Isaac, the electricity had already gone out. That meant my only option was to rely on my G3 signal, which worked just fine. I used G3 to both upload my videos to CNN and to broadcast live to CNN using only Skype and my iPhone.

If you don’t have Skype on all of your devices, download it right now and practice using it. As with all phases of crisis communications, to be effective you must practice on a clear sunny day. Never wait until you are in the middle of your crisis to try to take these steps.

In our next article, we will talk more about how to use this technology effectively.

If you’d like to learn more, here are the links to my previous articles on this subject.

Here are links to previous articles on this topic:

Crisis Communications for West Texas Fertilizer Plant in Waco: Why PIOs, Emergency Managers, and PR people should be using CNN iReports

IReports for Public Relations and Crisis Communications: Why Your Company or Government Organization Should Create a CNN iReport Account Today

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

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

And thank you for your daily votes in the In-Depth Storytelling category. Click on the Community Choice voting tab to help me be selected as CNN’s iReporter of the Year.

Crisis Communication for West Texas Fertilizer Plant in Waco: Why PIOs, Emergency Managers and PR People Should be Using CNN iReports

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 I write this article, the media are reporting on the crisis in Waco, Texas at the West Texas Fertilizer Plant, which blew up.

In a news conference I’m watching on television, the Sheriff is admonishing the media that he has received their request to take video at the scene, but that he cannot yet accommodate them. This is exactly the kind of case that lends itself to the training and lessons I’ve been discussing in this series of articles about CNN iReports.  Companies, Public Information Officers (PIO), public relations practitioners, Emergency Managers, and government officials have the ability to use iReports to get critical information and pictures to the media.

As we watch this news cycle, the video we see the most, was captured by a citizen sitting in his truck with is daughter. He was video taping the initial fire, and then accidentally captures the horrific explosion. There are many other online images, as well as video on iReports and YouTube.

This one, specific video that captures the explosion will continue to run until someone provides new, updated video.

Isaac Flooding Gerard BraudIn most cases like this, Emergency Responders are so overwhelmed with the damage, dead and injured, that no one in the community is designated as the person who will provide new information and images to the media. The media crave images. The media crave new information. The media on the scene are bombarded by producers and editors back in their offices who are screaming, “Get me something new!” This is true in small towns and large communities alike. I’ve watched this happen repeatedly when I was a television reporter.

Every community, every company, every responding agency, needs to have either a trained public relations person on staff or a public relations and crisis communications expert that can be brought in quickly to manage the media and get the media new information. A modern media relations expert needs to know how to use an iPhone, iPad or other smart device to shoot short 30-second videos that can be uploaded as a CNN iReport, uploaded to YouTube, and uploaded to local media sites, so the media can download and use that video.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneUsing your smart device you can shoot and upload images of the damage in areas currently not accessible to the media, but open to investigators and responders. You don’t have to take the media in physically, when you can take the media in virtually.

Please read the other articles that I’ve written on this topic for more tips. We’ll have more coming as voting continues for this year’s nomination of CNN’s top iReporter.

If you have questions, please reach out to me at gerard@braudcommunications.com

Here are links to previous articles on this topic:

iReports for Public Relations and Crisis Communications: Why Your Company or Government Organization Should Create a CNN iReport Account Today

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

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

iReports for Public Relations and Crisis Communications: Why Your Company or Government Organization Should Create a CNN iReport Account Today

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.

Here is something you’ve likely never been told to do — start a corporate, business, or government CNN iReport account as part of your crisis communication plan.

Why? Just as you might use YouTube and your social media brand pages as part of your crisis communication strategy, you can use CNN iReports. With iReports, you get an accelerated path to the premier cable news network in the world.

Not every crisis warrants shooting a video and posting it to the web, and especially not to CNN iReports. However, if your crisis event is big enough that the media will show up to cover the event, then your crisis is big enough for you to shoot a short video and upload it to iReports.

The account is easy to set up. Visit cnn.com/iReport and follow the instructions. You’ll need a traditional e-mail address and password, just as you have for any of your social media accounts. You’ll be asked to post a photo of yourself and create a bio. It is important that you list your phone number and any way that CNN might contact you about one of your videos.

CNN Ireport AccountSome corporate leaders or government officials might object to this strategy of having an iReport account. Here is the reality about your possible crisis — if a crisis occurs, there is a strong chance that someone with a smart phone will photograph and/or videotape your event. They may share it on social media and send it to either your local media or CNN iReport. This means that during your crisis, you can either have your story told by an eyewitness, who may speculate and spread rumors, or you can post a report with better pictures, better video, and credible facts. Given the choice, you should choose the option that gives you the greatest control over the flow of accurate information.

All day and night, CNN has a team of producers monitoring all of the videos that get posted to their website. A selected group of videos get “vetted” by the CNN producers, which is essentially a stamp of authentication or endorsement that a given video is worthy of stronger consideration by web viewers.

The iReport vetting team then notifies the producers of the CNN news programs when they see a video that might be worthy of being put on the air. Sometimes the live programs will run just video or still pictures from the event. Other times they will run all or a portion of the narration that might be on the video. On numerous occasions, CNN has run my video with my short narration. Then they take it a step further and contact me by e-mail or phone call to ask me to do a live report.

In each instance, I was acting as a citizen observing an event, but I could have just as easily done the same thing if I had been serving as a corporate spokesperson or if I was a Public Information Officer (PIO) for a government agency or for state, county or city government. This would also be very useful for Emergency Managers.

If your local media offer options for uploading pictures and videos, you should create an account using their website as well. All of this should be done on a clear sunny day, because you don’t want to try to rush through this on your darkest day when you are in the middle of a crisis.

Don’t put it off. Stop now and set up your CNN iReport account. While you are there, take a look at my videos that have been nominated as some of the top CNN videos of the year… and of course thank you for taking a moment to click on vote for me in the In-Depth Storytelling Community Choice award.

In our next article, we’ll look at the technology you need to effectively be an iReporter.

Manage the Expectations of Your Audience: Story Telling Secrets of the Media and a CNN 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.}

DSC_0076As you watch television news, especially live cable news and live breaking news in a crisis, observe the questions from the news reporters, news anchors and members of the media. They want to know how much worse will the event get?

If you recognize this, you can make this a part of your planned storytelling, whether you are filing a CNN iReport, communicating as a public relations spokesperson, or communicating as a Public Information Officer (PIO) for a federal or state agency, or for state, county or local government.

During Hurricane Isaac, my goal was to manage the expectations of the national audience and the national media so they would know just how bad things would get. For the most part, it was all predictable for me, because I had been through and reported on so many hurricanes during my career as a television reporter. As a resident of Mandeville, Louisiana and as someone born in New Orleans, I had a pretty good idea of what was to come. (Although the 4 10-food alligators, the 50 dead nutria and the thousands of snakes were a surprise.)

Electric utility companies are a perfect example of the kind of company that should build their media training and crisis communications strategy around managing the expectations of their audience. Some people in New Orleans were very mad at Entergy of New Orleans when the electric company didn’t have electricity restored to all of their customers on the day following the hurricane. The angry citizens called the media and complained non-stop on social media. Although all were without electricity after Hurricane Katrina, they expected faster restoration after Isaac, which was a Category 1 hurricane. Restoration to 99% of the customers may be great, but the 1% without power can still cause a public relations problem for a company.

To their credit, Entergy was holding news briefings and using social media where possible. But here is what I would like to see every investor owned utility and every Rural Electric Cooperative (Co-op) say to their customers before any big, predictable weather event:

“This storm will disrupt electrical service. You may lose electricity early as trees fall on power lines or as winds blow power lines down. Your home may survive the storm, but in the days immediately after the storm, you may be very miserable. You won’t be able to turn on any lights. You won’t be able to cook on electric stoves. If you have an electric hot water heater, you may not have hot water. Your air conditioning (or heating) may not work. While our electric crews and those from other communities will begin restoring power quickly, we cannot say when everyone will have their lights back on. Furthermore, if the electric meter to your home is damaged or if the electrical wiring in your home gets wet or damaged, it may be weeks or months before your power can be restored. For that reason, we suggest you follow the advice of your local government and evacuate to an area outside of the predicted disaster zone, then return home when you can once again have modern conveniences.”

That type of statement

1.) Tells it to the audience straight without any public relations B.S.

2.) It manages their expectation for how bad things may get

3.) It gives them a clear reason as to why they should evacuate — because many people are in denial about whether or not the wind or flooding will harm them, but they don’t want to be miserable and without creature comforts.

Social Media Gerard BraudState, county and city governments can also benefit from this approach. The government will often call for an evacuation for public safety. Many people don’t want to evacuate because a previous hurricane did not significantly impact them. Government should emphasize that no two storms are alike. A zone that survived one hurricane might be destroyed by the path of another storm. Government public information officers and spokespeople should also emphasize the loss of creature comforts associated with the loss of electricity, water, operating toilets, and the inability to cook or buy supplies.

This technique goes hand in hand with my previous article on explaining the compare and contrast of what is and what will be. Please read that article for more valuable tips.

To continue to manage the expectations of the audience before, during and after an event, any corporation or government agency, can do exactly what I did as a citizen — they can create a CNN iReport account and file multiple iReport videos just as I did. We will look at that in our next article.

Thank you again for your daily votes through May 5th at http://www.cnn.com/ireport-awards#nom=indepth

My reports are in the In-Depth Storytelling catigory under Isaac’s Aftermath.

To learn more, here are links to previous articles on this topic:

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

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

 

 

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

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 daily through May 5, 2013, is greatly appreciated.

The news media love to show the contrast between what was and what is. If the media are going to do this anyway, you should anticipate it and plan your public relations strategy, media training strategy or crisis communications strategy to take advantage of this.

It is disappointing that the videos shown in my nomination for In-Depth Storytelling for the iReporter Awards focuses only on my reports after Hurricane Isaac. It was actually my CNN iReports before Hurricane Isaac that got the attention of network news producers, which triggered their calls to me to appear live on HLN during the CNN/HLN Evening Express program and the Dr. Drew program.

Here is the how, why and what I did, so you can do the same thing.

Reporters, anchors and media unfamiliar with a particular location don’t know what to expect. Sometimes they have misconceptions, which lead to inaccurate reporting. Sometimes their lack of knowledge makes the audience think the media are biased. Sometimes the local audience thinks the media are stupid. Your effort to make the story easy to tell makes reporters smarter and more accurate.

Since my house on Lake Pontchartrain afforded me a front row seat to the storm, I saw an opportunity to tell an accurate story to and for the media, through my iReports. My experience as a storm chaser and former journalist, positioned me to know that conditions were going to change drastically during Hurricane Isaac. So, my first video iReport Isaac Ireport Gerard Braudforetold that a calm Lake Pontchartrain would overflow its banks, flooding my neighborhood. My video including me showing the calm lake and the beautiful green grass of my yard near New Orleans, then telling how all that you see would be covered with water in 24 hours.

This prediction, as an iReport, got the attention of CNN producers. My strategy all along was to show my flooded neighborhood in my second iReport, which I did.
Isaac Flooding Gerard BraudThis contrast further got the attention of CNN producers. This, in turn, triggered the phone call asking me to do live reports via Skype, G3 and my iPhone 4, all while I had no electricity and 7 feet of water surrounding my house.

These news reports further set the stage to keep telling the story as conditions deteriorated. Next came the report of the physical damage to my home, followed by stories of massive amounts of debris, followed by reports of dead animals, and the reports of live alligators.Debris from Isaac Gerard Braud

The compare and contrast story should be a standard part of your story telling, whether you are filing an iReport, writing a news release, or communicating directly to the media during a crisis. Recognize what is… recognize what was… then compare the two in order to add perspective to your story and situation. This should be done by your corporate spokesperson, Public Information Officers (PIOs) at the state, county and city level, and anyone who must serve as the spokesperson during an unfolding news event.

In our next article, you’ll learn how to manage the expectations of your audience.

Thank you again for your daily votes through May 5th

My reports are in the In-Depth Storytelling category under Isaac’s Aftermath.

To learn more, here are links to previous articles on this topic:

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

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

 

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.