By Beth Loyd and Josh Mabry, News Partnerships
Local journalists across the country use Facebook Live to break news, give people a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that matter most to their community, and deepen relationships with their audience. We talked with a few reporters from stations in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee that have had recent success with Facebook Live to see how they’re using the storytelling tool, and what advice they’d pass along to other reporters.
Kristen Hampton, WBTV Charlotte, North Carolina
Kristen Hampton, a reporter who hosts a daily report called The Good News for WBTV out of Charlotte, North Carolina, decided on a whim to try out a set of “three second” eyebrow stamps and test them on Facebook Live from her car. Her page had less than 20,000 followers when she went live in June. As of November, it has more than 6 million views, 219,000 hours of watch time, and it helped her gain an additional 40,000 followers in the weeks since it published.
Hampton uses live to reach her audience simply and authentically. “I give fans a ‘right now’ look into whatever I may be going live about, there’s no editing or staging. It’s just reality,” she says. “I can say something that I think has worked really well for me is to be real. I don’t put on extra makeup or try and make myself look too polished, because I think people get to see enough of that on TV.”
“One of the values of Facebook Live is the authenticity of it. I think viewers long to see their favorite anchors and reporters in real life doing real-life things like real-life humans. Live is really an opportunity to show viewers that you’re a real person just like them. Whether you’re delivering hard news or features, I think viewers appreciate knowing it’s not being delivered by a robot.” — Kristen Hampton, reporter for WBTV Charlotte, North Carolina
Andy Wise, WMC Action News 5 Memphis, Tennessee
When Andy Wise’s story about consumer credit protection was nixed, he went live on Facebook to give his followers the full backstory of what happened. It was an important story for Wise, and had practical implications for his community. “I wanted my viewers to have the benefit of the lead of the story: the hard inquiry on your credit at auto dealerships. Live allowed me to do that when our ‘victim’ sabotaged the actual news story for on-air,” says Wise.
From his phone, Wise went live and took his audiences step by step through why the story fell apart, while also imparting useful information for how protect your credit. The video ended up getting over 100,000 views, and users watched for an average of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
“The value of Facebook Live is two-fold. To connect with viewers in real time and with behind-the scenes intimacy. And to share information on an issue or story that could not be shared on TV. My best practices for using Facebook Live are to demonstrate how to do something, to interact in real-time with followers with a sense of intimacy on a specific issue or to tell a story that, for whatever reason, cannot or could not be told in our TV or web broadcasts.” — Andy Wise, reporter for WMC Action News 5
David Schechter, WFAA-TV Dallas, Texas
David Schechter, a local journalist out of Dallas, Texas, produces a series called Verify where he recruits real people through Facebook, and takes them on a road trip to report on a pressing question, and have them reach their own conclusion. One recent story focused on the question of whether chili or barbecue should be the state food of Texas. With the help of one person from Facebook and lots of reporting, Schechter will answer the question on a segment that will air across many of the local channels owned and operated by TEGNA. Before it airs, Schechter has been uploading videos and using Facebook Live to engage viewers, drive tune-in, and document his road trip over several weeks.
He started this project by posting on Facebook to find a viewer that would join him and help answer the question. He landed on Chad Burnett — a chef that’s cooked for four sitting presidents. In this first Live, they sat together at Pecan Lodge in Dallas with the BBQ editor from Texas Monthly, where they asked questions of the expert and sourced questions from viewers.
The next day on the trip, they went to Lockhart, the barbecue capital of Texas. He went live from Smitty’s Market to show viewers how some of the world’s best BBQ is made.
Schechter plans to follow up with a Facebook Live featuring Chad Burnett, the guest reporter, so Chad can explain his choice between chili and barbecue after the segment airs.
Paul Dellegatto, Fox 13 in Tampa Bay, Florida
Paul Dellegatto, chief meteorologist for Fox 13, has built up a large Facebook following with nearly 275,000 fans due in large part to his comprehensive breaking news coverage around major weather events. When Hurricane Irma came through the region in September, he went live before, during and after the storm. He reported from the newsroom to help prepare his audience for what was to come and discussed the extent of the damage as it was happening. His live video during the storm received more than 300,000 views and people watched for an average of nearly 2 minutes.
“Facebook allowed me to connect with my viewers and followers literally 24 hours a day as Irma was approaching Florida. Important changes in hurricane tracking and intensity often happen at odd times of day. Facebook provided a great opportunity to pass that critical information immediately to our viewers. I was able to go into much more depth on Facebook than I was on TV, many times getting down to the nitty gritty of the forecast and speaking directly to those affected.
Generally speaking, I use Facebook to directly connect with viewers because it is fast, it is real, and because it is a two-way street. It helps me understand their needs and concerns.” — Paul Dellegatto, Chief Meteorologist for Fox 13 Tampa Bay, Florida