Social media festival coverage
Actually the wristband doesn’t really have that much to do with it – but as the yellow piece of fabric with the word press written on it was a permanent fixture on my wrist throughout the weekend I felt it worth a mention.
OK so mention over and I won’t talk about wristbands again. Time to explain why the BBC Jersey coverage of the Jersey Live music festival turned into such a social media love-in.
It all started with FTP
This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Jersey Live music festival and the fifth time I’ve covered the event for BBC Jersey.
Last year was the first event we covered live online – using Dreamweaver, Photoshop and FTP alongside a laptop and free open WiFi in the press tent to update a single page with two paragraph stories and pictures every 20 minutes or so.
It worked really well and made putting features together the next day a LOT easier and quicker – most of the text was already there in note form.
So I got into work on Saturday morning with the intention of doing much the same thing this year – the main difference being that I also had Audacity on the laptop and was going to post the MANY audio interviews we intended to do.
Before I went to work I decided to just check over my ADSL connection at home that FTP still works ok and that everything was in place ready for the festival.
It wasn’t. We’d been trailing online, on radio and even on the TV news bulletin that we would be live blogging from the festival, that we would have photos and interviews up as we do them all weekend. And now here I am staring at an FTP client that won’t connect.
So I get to work early and check FTP over the BBC Network – all is well but no chance of connection over a non-Beeb network. A couple of calls to IT seem to prove that to be true. Apparently I need MyConnect (which is painfully slow) to FTP to the BBC web servers if away from the office.
I can see the point behind it all but it doesn’t change the fact that it left me in a bit of a bind two hours before I’m due to go live from the Showground into BBC Radio Jersey to talk about what’s coming up and what we’ll be doing online.
I couldn’t cancel it all as people were expecting at least a resemblance of a service – so a solution needed to be found. And it came in the form of Twitter, Flickr and MySpace.
We already had a Pro Flickr account under the name bbcjersey that we use to get photos backwards and forwards from big events we cover around the world in fact we’ll be using it in Tanzania soon when Jersey Crickets compete in the World Cricket League Division 4 Tournament and in India as we follow islanders in the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Anyway back to Jersey Live. Flickr was easy – there was even a Jersey Live (BBC) Flickr Group in place. So I updated the generic article we created (that we intended to update all weekend) to remove any reference to ‘this page’ and ‘right here’ and instead add a body link and explanation at the top to Flickr.
So that’s the photo problem solved. Now the live blog – there was only one way for me to go here and it’s one I’ve used many times myself – Twitter.
I headed over to Twitter.com and signed up for an account at twitter.com/jsyintroducing – the new music show I present on BBC Jersey is called BBC Jersey Introducing (hence the username).
Twitter.com/bbcjersey was already taken (by me) and basically uses TwitterFeed to post the latest news, sport and lifestyle stories from the BBC Jersey website – as well as any noticed we want to put out (although there aren’t many subscribers at the moment).
I then added the Twitter link to the page mentioned above just above the Flickr one.
So that’s the photos and the text sorted – but Twitter is fairly limited at just 140 characters which is great for what it needs to do – but does sort of leave us short if we need to tell a more detailed story.
That’s where MySpace came in – we had a Jersey Introducing profile on MySpace (as we do on Bebo, Last.fm and Facebook) so I decided to use the MySpace blog functionality for larger posts – we didn’t need it in the end but it was nice it was there.
Anyway so that was it – the complete tool set in place for the festival. We could live blog using Twitter, upload photos to Flickr, link between the two and put bigger features on MySpace as well as promote what we were doing on Flickr and Twitter.
Links to all of which were available by clicking an article on the top spot of bbc.co.uk/jersey.
Obviously as with all good plans things didn’t exactly work out as expected – things started really well and then the WiFi went dead in the press tent and wasn’t properly back up until the next day.
I could make a joke about the fact that the lead sponsor of the event is the islands main mobile company and the Broadband wholesale provider and the one that installed all the WiFi but that would be mean – especially as it wasn’t really their fault – it wasn’t anyones fault just bad luck.
The next day though we connected to the production instead of press WiFi and got online without a problem and updated to Twitter all day and did much the same with Flickr.
We did eventually – by Monday afternoon post all 1100 photos to Flickr and updated Twitter about 50 times. I only updated MySpace three times all weekend.
But it did all work pretty well in the end and I think we may look at doing it the same way in 2009 – although it would be nice if I could have automatically pulled the Tweets and Flickr feeds (maybe with the use of a machine tag) into the BBC Jersey page.
The only thing missing was a way to easily publish the interviews as well – of course I could have uploaded them here but I like to keep my blog separate from actual work coverage, the other way around is OK though. I talk about work on my blog but not my blog at work.
After the event I realized I could have used something like Odeo but that’s something to look at for next years event.
Of course the work has now started on creating features within bbc.co.uk/jersey using the content we gathered over the weekend (and by we I mean two of us – myself and Claire Peters).
We’ve already sent a mass of content to Steve Lemacq’s Radio 1 producers who used it to create a MyScene (which you can listen to HERE). And we’re currently editing all the interviews (there are around 12 of them) into 1 minute chunks for our show on Saturday (BBC Jersey Introducing, 2.15 Saturdays on 88.8fm in Jersey or bbc.co.uk/jersey everywhere else).
And into much longer pieces (full 5/6 minutes) for bbc.co.uk/jersey. We’ve currently only done We Are Scientists as it was the funniest but we will be writing them all up over the next few days.
Oh and my thoughts on the festival – come over in 2009 as it is by far one of the best small festivals of the season – Jersey is beautiful, the weather is usually pretty nice and it’s a great environment to hear some of the hottest bands right now (and the organisers usually hit the nail right on the head)
Many more photos on our Flickr Feed.