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#truManchester live blogger @lesanto talks “Live Blogging.”

September 1, 2010

Glenn Lesanto is well known as a new age reporter at some of the leading social-media events around Europe. I’m delighted to say that “The Pirate” will be joining us again at #truManchester to head the blog squad. Glenn will also be bringing his own special brand of track leading as the ring master in the “Social Media Circus” track. Here is an introduction, and what he has to say about live blogging:

I’ve been a journalist since just before the dawn of the Internet age.
In that time I’ve seen many changes to my craft, including the game changing arrival of HTML. Now we have witnessed the rise of social media, itself a broad term that covers a wide range of activities. One of which, live reporting from events, is already very familiar to me.
In my previous work as a sports reporter I was part of a small band of media experts who travelled the world covering the prestigious World Superbike Championship. The experience prepared me well for the present social media times and the rise of live event blogging.

For me, because of my past as a sports reporter, I feel I am working in a very familiar territory. All that has really changed is the tools that we use to do the job – I can remember a time before digital cameras, let alone smart phones. But, regardless of changes to the tool set, I feel that we were doing essentially the same job then as we are today: Making positive noise and bringing attention to an event.

So what has changed? I feel the key shifts are in immediacy of reporting and the response we get from our audience. In times past we would often not file copy from the event, instead we had days or even weeks to send in our posts. As the Internet arrived that luxury of time soon vanished. I can remember Internet editors ringing me up in the late 90s just minutes after riders crossed the line, demanding I file a post-race report as soon as possible. Now, even a few minutes is too long and much of our work is done on the fly. Short and very sharp posts go out like machine gun fire for the duration of an event.

We also have the satisfaction of seeing immediate results in the form of statistics showing us how many eyes are on our posts. Added to this we have feedback from our audience, usually instant, and this is something I find immensely satisfying. Gone are the days when publishers frankly lied about just how many people were reading the reports and readers’ letters were made up by editors. Instead we can see the real numbers and the audience enjoys a active back-channel. In my recent experience these numbers can be very impressive and the back-channel is always extremely busy.

I’m firmly of the opinion that live-event-blogging is a powerful tool for creating positive noise, discussion and therefore publicity surrounding almost any event. In fact, I’m so convinced of its worth that I even advise organisations to hold events merely as an excuse to create this noise.

Using a live blogger, or a team of bloggers at an event is not free because quality still costs money. But the returns are phenomenal if the job is done properly and if professional people who really know their trade are employed. With data available to demonstrate the reach and amplification achieved by such reporting, clients hiring live bloggers can see for themselves the benefits. While readers alone are not necessarily ROI, without eyes on your information ROI will always be elusive. I’m convinced that turning audience into ROI is very possible in a number of ways – and this is something I’m always happy to advise my clients about.

I confidently predict that events held in the future will increasingly employ teams of professional live bloggers. Those that don’t will suffer as a result of missing out on a clear opportunity for disseminating information and garnering publicity. Far from journalism being dead, it’s alive and kicking – albeit in a newly evolved state.
For those capable of working under the immense pressure that live-blogging brings, and who also have all the right skills for attracting and keeping readers, the future is very bright.

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