In a few weeks, I’ll be taking a group of Elon iMedia students to Costa Rica to develop a tourism site for an indigenous group. It’s my third visit to the area, but will be the first for this group of students, like it is every year. It’s rather different there, the people are different, the lifestyle is different and we have 8 days to visit, learn and capture their story.
Learning is the hardest part. Whether you are telling a story about your brand, the results of a city council meeting or the story of a land and its people, you can’t do a credible job until you understand. Gaining understanding comes in three parts. First is doing background research.
Here’s a few ways to get started.
- Previous published coverage: How has this story been told in similar and different media before? How did audiences react? You can measure this if there is a post popularity indicator or by interaction through comments, social promotion, etc. What facts emerged?
- Other written sources: What do the subjects say in their own PR? Is there information in public records or in academic research?
- Background interviews: If you are going with me in a few weeks, you definitely should have talked with students who went before you. If you are doing a story on the city council, you should talk through the agenda with the city manager in advance of the meeting to get important context. For any topic, can you talk with people who have had the same or similar experiences?
Note that this all can and should happen before you start to capture information. It saves you time and helps you to be more accurate because you know what to look for.
Up next: Using observation to understand the story.