Social media strategy for news organizations

In addition to writing the News Leadership 3.0 blog for Knight Digital Media Center, I help develop training programs aimed at leaders of news organizations who are trying to make the transformation from print to multi-platform journalism. In past years, we’ve convened top editors and their online chiefs to spend four days at the center at the University of Southern California working with experts to develop strategies for transformation. Here is my report on KDMC’s 2008 conference.

This year, we’re taking a different tack, and I’m the lead program developer so my sense of adventure and opportunity is in full swing!

First, the program will focus on social media — why are new tools and practices valuable to established news organizations, how can they implement them and what will be the financial rewards?

As I’ve noted over on the leadership blog, news organizations seem painfully slow to adapt these practices — either finding more readers on sites such as Facebook or adopting social practices on their own news Web sites. At the same time, adults of all ages are flocking to the networks.

We want to help news leaders — editors as well as publishers — understand how social networks tap into a new audience dynamic and how these networks can help them reach larger audiences,  measure those audiences and use those measurements to provide value for advertisers.

Second, we’re going to conduct much of the training online and make it available to a larger audience — there will be at least three Webinars this spring in partnership with News University. A smaller group of participants will be selected to receive additional training and coaching online so they can develop a project for their news site. They’ll be invited to work with experts in Los Angeles next summer as they prepare to launch their social media projects. Here is the program announcement for News Leadership 2009.

Third, we will invite the top editor and either the publisher or top revenue manager from up to 10 news organizations to be part of the more intensive training program that culminates in the summer conference. In the past, we’ve invited the top editor and the top online editor. Valuable as that has been, we believe that having the editorial side and the business side learn about new media practices and opportunities together will help assure success of their projects.

If you have any suggestions for our program, please share them in the comments. And stay tuned for updates here and on the Knight Digital site..