Liveblog your next eventExtend your real-life event into valuable content for your online presence

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A friend recently called up to say an organization he works for is planning on having a few lucky volunteers liveblog the event. (Liveblogging is when bloggers offer real-time reporting or commentary on an event as it occurs, often updating a single post multiple times with new information as the event unfolds. See some of the latest examples here.) He asked if I had any suggestions.

I did – and I thought I'd share them with you.

Before you read my throughts, check out this post on liveblogging by Beth Kanter, one of the smartest people I know. She has plenty of great tips for actually conducting the blogging session — including one brilliant, simple idea: copying and pasting the session description in at the top of the post.

Now here's what I suggested.

  1. The biggest thing: know what you want, and work it out with your livebloggers beforehand. Is it direct quotes? Just the gist of what's being discussed? Comprehensive notes or the occasional remarkable point? Set priorities in consultation with them, and check in during convention so you can do any necessary course correction — or, if something unexpected seems to be turning out well, change their mandate.
  2. If you have two people who work really well together, consider having them open a document in a real-time collaborative editor and have one live-blog rough notes while the other follows behind them, tidying up and adding commas. On the Mac, Alex and I have had great luck with SubEthaEdit from Coding Monkeys; there's a list of options at Wikipedia.
  3. Photos give a great sense of the colour of an event, but if I ever see another endless procession of head-and-shoulder shots of people at microphones, it'll be too damned soon. Brainstorm ideas with a photoblogger ahead of time: close-up shots of buttons and decorated attendee credentials, audience reaction to keynote speakers, corridor conversations, behind-the-scenes preparations, people who've brought their kids... And consider getting the word out in advance about a Flickr tag, so you can turn anyone taking pictures at your event into an instant photoblogger.
  4. Consider developing themes for individual livebloggers to follow, especially if you have the official proceedings covered off. What if one person was getting interviews with the oldest members, or inviting them to key in a few lines of a post? How about tracking down people who've never been to convention before and doing a quick videophone interview with them? Or asking delegates and guests about the best books they've read so far this year?
  5. Give your livebloggers all the access they need. Make sure they can get digital recordings of the keynotes, panels and discussions ASAP so they can confirm quotes or create podcasts. If you've got a great, enthusiastic blogger who's also a good writer, see if you can give her or him some time with a few of the dignitaries for blogging fodder.

Those are some of my suggestions. Feel free to suggest some of your own in the comments!


Beth says

September 9, 2006 - 9:47pm
Hi Rob, Another thing that I learned today is that hipcast - which allows you to do video moments and cell phone podcast interviews is another tool for the toolbag. Think out of the text box!

Raul Pacheco says

February 22, 2009 - 12:12am

Thanks for these tips, Rob! I liveblog a lot of events (I even liveblogged your keynote at Northern Voice 2009!) so, I am hoping to incorporate all of these for future events.

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