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SnapStream Blog

Framing the Story with Video: How the Washington Examiner Increases Social Engagement.

September 09 2016 by Sara Howard

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Sean_Langille.pngStarted in 2005 as a print publicationThe Washington Examiner is today one of our most active social customers. They're dedicated to engaging readers by bringing them the latest in breaking news and politics.  

One of the driving forces behind this engagement is Sean Langille (fun fact about Sean, he started writing for his city newspaper when he was in 2nd grade). He was nice enough to chat with us about best practices for social engagement and what life was like before SnapStream.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your role at the Washington Examiner?

Sean: I have the title of Digital Engagement Editor, so I work a lot with social media and different ways to digitally market our product. But I also work with vendors to find ways that we can enhance our product. Part of my job is helping to drive digital strategy in Facebook and Twitter and our multi-media content, working with interns to help curate that content.

Q: What is your thought-process behind portraying a visual strategy?

Sean: When we tell a story we try to move beyond just using the text. It’s about using infographics, photos and videos. For instance, just now I was using SnapStream to clip the president saying that Donald Trump was “unfit and woefully unprepared”. We understand that people are going to read text, but we have to offer our audience infographics, imagery and video elements. If they can click through and watch a video of Obama saying the quote, then it provides a much stronger presentation.



"When we tell a story we try to move beyond just using the text. It’s about using infographics, photos and videos".



Q: 
Can you tell me how you and your team are using SnapStream? How do you find that it is most effective?

Sean: The way it usually works is that we have interns help us use SnapStream. Usually myself and the other digital editor will  watch videos and speeches and we’ll call out to the interns and say “hey, Obama said this…”. When we’re at the conventions and there are speakers, we’ll all be monitoring it. We actually have a dedicated "Slack" channel that is actually called “SnapStream”, and we can post in there “hey, so-and-so said this, who can grab it?”. The interns cut that up, and then I go through that in the library and further fine-tune it. From there, we put it out to Twitter or Facebook, using "ShowSqueeze" to put it out to Facebook.

washington_examiner_tweet1.pngWe use a social distribution platform called “SocialFlow”, so sometimes we’ll do a combination of directly publishing from SnapStream or sometimes we’ll put it directly into SocialFlow to best optimize when that video should go out. We’d love to see an option to recycle from within SnapStream (UPDATE! This functionality is now available in SnapStream 7.2). For instance, we had one yesterday… Pat Smith was on CNN and we tweeted it out and got 300+ retweets with just that video. We know that kind of content is popular with our audience so it would be great if we had a way to re-package that.

 



"Now that we have SnapStream, within minutes or seconds of someone saying something newsworthy, we can get that out and be ahead of our competition".


 

Sean: Prior to SnapStream, during a debate or big event night, trey_gowdy.pngwe would know when these videos happen so we’d be clipping off of some live stream, literally screen grabbing and then getting it to our video team and then have to wait for editing to push that out.


Now that we have SnapStream, within minutes or seconds of someone saying something newsworthy, we can get that out and be ahead of our competition. If we’re the first one to it, then it takes off. It’s something as simple as Trey Gowdy on "Meet the Press" saying “I endorse Donald Trump”, we take that phrase, put it out there and we’re one of the first. With the amount of social engagement it can drive… I don’t think we could live without it.

Q: Can you tell me about the team workflow?

Sean: Myself and my digital editor will tell the interns about someone being on tv, or a speech, or event. We’ll have interns monitoring these events, and we’ll notice certain soundbites, telling them to pay attention to when a particular person speaks, or to look out for certain terms. What we usually have them do is pay attention to the newsmakers or the broader bites. But with their own initiative, they’re able to look at more content and ask us what we think of additional items. 

Sometimes it’s not about what is being said, but physical reactions. People make weird faces, or we’ll catch interesting things like when CSPAN flashed WikiLeaks during Hillary Clinton’s speech. So we’re able to go back into these clips and create GIFs to capture these interesting little moments… like when we captured Hillary Clinton’s weird reaction to fireworks. 

 

Q: How do you manage the timing of social posts? Social happens in an instant, how do you make sure that you’re heard?

Sean: It’s about staying in time, but sometimes offering a little bit different. Can we capture the side that no one else is looking at, getting the contrarian viewpoint. Showing the different sides of the story and not just the one that is popular.

Q: How are you using this for conventions?

Sean: We have setup VPNs, so that people can log into SnapStream wherever they are. This is what we did at the conventions. Overall, things were functioning well and we were able to log in and clip things, as well as coordinate with the interns back in DC.

Q: So, you being away from the office isn’t constricting your ability to post videos and GIFs on Twitter and Facebook?

Sean: No, not at all.



"We’re using SnapStream to transform the way we do social".



Q: How are you framing the conversation, how are you getting the best reactions?

Sean: It’s about keeping track of what everyone else is doing. We use a lot of listening tools to see what the competition is doing. But we’re trying to advance the story. There is the story of Trump fighting with the Kahn family, as compared to the woman who lost her son in Benghazi speaking at the Republican download.pngNational Convention. We wanted to see what the reaction was to the media coverage of both, and we were one of the few that was using SnapStream to put those videos out there. It’s about being aware of the storyline that everyone else is doing, but what are the other emerging storylines coming out of this.

Sometimes it’s about going beyond the other clips that everyone else is putting out. We want to be thought of as a place where you know you can go to get a good snapshot of what was said at the conventions. Essentially, you have a highlight reel of what everyone said. If you look through our Twitter stream and what we did on Facebook during the convention, we put out 100’s of SnapStream videos, using it as a tool for engagement. 

 

Q: Why is this something that you are passionate about, where did this need to “show both sides” come from?

Sean: I have always been of the mindset that everyone else is covering it the same way, let’s advance the story and see what the other voices are. There are so many voices saying the same thing that in order to differentiate yourself, you have to find ways and find the content that will balance that out. But also, there are stories that will get buried because people are so wrapped up talking about one thing. 

What I’m most passionate about is telling the story well. You have to have all the elements to do that, whether it’s infographics, video… because news now isn’t just text. When you click on a news story, what’s going to keep you on the page the longest? We want to establish ourselves as an authority for a certain kind of content. So that if you want this kind of content, we are where you go. 

Q: Thank you so much for speaking with me Sean, is there anything else you wanted to add or talk about before we wrap up?

Sean: We’re using SnapStream to transform the way we do social. We’re trying to reach a society that’s a little bit ADD, and entice them to actually read a news story. I think the larger story is how news outlets are using every tool at their disposal, especially SnapStream, to make sure that news as a written medium doesn’t die.

 


 

About Sean Langille

Sean Langille is Digital Engagement Editor for the Washington Examiner. He also serves as an associate producer for Fox News Channel, where he aided in the launch of the Fox News First daily political email newsletter. Sean also has an extensive radio background having produced "The Laura Ingraham Show" and working as an on-air host in Virginia and Massachusetts.

 

GIF the debates and the fun never stops!

March 07 2016 by Eric Cohn
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The 2016 presidential election cycle has been as unpredictable as any election in recent memory with over 20 sanctioned debates, numerous “town hall” discussions and countless candidate speeches. News organizations have been overwhelmed with an unprecedented volume of visual content to share with their viewers.

While debates have been broadcast on television since 1960 (the famous Kennedy-Nixon debates), there has been a seismic shift in the way the presidential debates have been covered in the media this election cycle. The New York Times said it best: political GIFs have become the new sound bites of the 2016 campaign season.

Animated GIFs have been synonymous with coverage of the 2016 presidential race. Whether it is Donald Trump making exasperated faces at his opponents or Hillary Clinton seemingly wiping dirt “off her shoulder,” these instantly shareable bite-sized moments have helped amplify and focus attention on the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates running.

SnapStream makes it simple for organizations to take a moment from television, create an animated GIF and post it to their social media accounts in just seconds. 

Live-tweeting of this election cycle has made it easier than ever to follow along with candidate events in near-real time. It also allows the organizations sharing the content to frame the conversation in the language of the social network on which it is being shared. 

Savvy media and political organizations have jumped on the GIF bandwagon and are sharing moments from the debates and other election events, creating incredibly engaging and viral content while informing their readers about the candidates and issues.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, an animated GIF could fill a volume!

Searchable State of the Union 2011

January 26 2011 by Rachel Abbott

Did you set your DVR last night? At SnapStream, we made sure to. (If you tuned in live, kudos to you. 26.1 million others did too.)

"Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans."

President Obama commenced his second State of the Union speech, addressing the congregation in the rich oral tradition of his predecessors.

The President spoke for just over an hour, in what commentators considered broad strokes, focusing on the nation's bright future with optimism instead of renegotiating issues of recent years past.

Here, let's pull up the recording. And grab the transcript to download in seconds.

Now, you could also search by keyword, to skip to the topics which interest you. Perhaps it's healthcare that gets your blood pumping, or job creation that perks your ears up.

For now, we'll take a look at the overall themes by copying and pasting the televised transcript (courtesy of SnapStream) into a word-cloud creator called Wordle.

Note: While the State of the Union address is easily accessible to the public all over the Internet, this is not the case for the majority of broadcast content, which is where SnapStream comes into play. For our intents, this is a timestamped example.

[Applause] occurred frequently throughout the speech. There was no booing last night across the partisan aisle. One could infer that Democrat, Republican and Tea Party members stood united after the recent Tuscon tragedy involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, among others.

To leave you with something further, the American Presidency Project has a unique historical resource to explore. It lists the length of every State of the Union Message and Address, by word count, dating back to George Washington in 1790.

Visit SnapStream's government page.

TV Trends Takes Pulse of the Nation Through #Election Week

November 04 2010 by Rachel Abbott

As media outlets were buzzing yesterday about midterm elections, we were closely tracking what was mentioned on major television networks here at SnapStream headquarters.

Since we're a television search and monitoring company, we employ our own SnapStream Servers to record U.S. national TV (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC, CNN and HLN) and provide insights into what is said on U.S. television. On big news days, like an election night, we gather all the closed-captioning data and run the numbers to distinguish the overarching news trends.

From SnapStream's aggregated television data, clear-cut trends emerge about the nation’s pulse during this pivotal midterm election, which serves as a forecasting indicator of the political climate stirring for the 2012 Presidential Election.

Based on over 60,000 hours of recorded television, freely accessible to anyone at tvtrends.com, we find a heavily evident media focus on the Republican Party and a direct correlation with the outcome of Tuesday’s balloting. As Democrats’ majority in Congress slipped, so did their rate and frequency of national news coverage.

Several approximations are used when computing results, such as how many mentions occur per unique hour. To determine the “hot” and “cold” measure of certain words or topics, we use an equation to calculate a frequency score that’s normalized to the number of hours of TV recorded on any given day.

Absolute, raw mentions
10/30 – 11/3
Hot TV Trends
Nov. 2, 2010
Hot TV Trends
Nov. 3, 2010
"Election" returns 767 mentions
"Voters" returns 359 mentions
"Republicans" returns 308 mentions
"Republican" returns 212 mentions
"Race" returns 213 mentions
"Races" returns 195 mentions
"Democrat" returns 61 mentions
"Tea Party" returns 53 mentions
1. Election
2. To the polls
3. The Republicans
4. Voters
5. Races
6. Lisa Murkowski
7. Race
8. The Republican
1. The Republicans
2. Races
3. Election
4. Race
5. In the senate
6. The Republican
7. To the polls
8. Zahra

An overview of keyword frequency across news channels, in descending order:

On the word "election,"
1. CNN
2. FOX News
3. MSNBC
4. HLN
5. ABC
On the word "republican(s),"
1. MSNBC
2. FOX News
3. CNN
4. ABC
5. HLN
On the word "democrat,"
1. FOX News
2. MSNBC
3. CNN
4. HLN
5. ABC

SnapStream TV Trends aims to provide insights into what is said on U.S. television. Updates occur every half hour and data is shown once the show is complete. To customize your own TV Trend search, visit http://www.snapstream.com/tvtrends.

TV Search in Politics: House Race 2010

July 19 2010 by Rachel Abbott

In case you missed the vital information contained in this webinar, watch the House of Representatives webinar on SnapStream's YouTube channel.
_ _

With midterm elections* around the corner, and all 435 of the House seats up for grabs, the news media will continue to play a critical role in shaping public opinion. As candidates are preparing to hit the ground running on their campaign trails, we're hosting a webinar this Thursday, July 22 to address the political advantage of TV search for tracking issues, competition and appearances.

The reality is, between now and November 2, candidates who practice proactive media relations (as opposed to reactive) will have increasingly better odds at sweeping victory over their districts.

To control messaging and earn the public's confidence, parties with take-charge leadership will capitalize on the media as a direct channel to reach their constituents. The public relations route leads to organic credibility that complements the value of sponsored ads.

Now, this might sound like a no-brainer for political strategy, but you'd be surprised to learn how many people aren't maximizing on this in a smart way. Paying for a clipping service or subjecting interns to full-time TiVo duty--probably not doing your cause much justice.

Alternatively, we've seen this formula work for our TV-hungry customers across city, state and federal government:

1) Dedicate a SnapStream Server to a trusty staff
2) Instantly search, clip and record TV
3) Launch game-changing campaign tactics

Sign up for our webinar to learn how to:
• Search by keyword across news networks
• Pinpoint mentions in seconds
• Create clips and download transcripts
• Receive real-time TV alerts
• Gain competitive intelligence
• Verify advertising
• Monitor public appearances
_ _
*Also up for election: 36 United States Senate seats and 37 out of the 50 United States Governors seats.

Visualizing The State of the Union

January 29 2010 by Mark Brooks

State of the Union Word Cloud

As my team is in the field showing off our ability to search television for mentions of interest, we occasionally field questions about the variety of applications for the data. In general, SnapStream customers are able to search, clip and distribute content of interest from a single user interface. Using closed captioning, SnapStream brings a user directly to any mention of interest within a recorded broadcast. Occasionally, especially in a University or Public Relations setting, the topic turns to statistical analysis. While our solution does not currently offer a statistical engine, the data is easily exported for analysis.

Politics aside, I have downloaded the closed-caption text from Wednesday night's (January 27, 2010) State of the Union. Using the word cloud creator at Wordle.net, I quickly created the above symbolic representation of the speech. The 75-minute speech generated over 7,000 words, of which, the top 200 are represented in the cloud. Wordle.net has the option to remove "common" words – looks to be mostly prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns - to get at the meat of the text . The more appearances a word makes in the text, the larger the word is portrayed in the cloud. The top five words from the speech were People, Americans, Year, Jobs and Work. The overall process took less than 5 minutes - in fact, it took considerably less time than creating this post. ;-)
For customers that are currently using our television search solution, here is a guide to the process. First, locate the video content by searching (or browsing, in this case) within the user interface. If the topic of interest is short, you can use the clipping feature to "trim" down the Closed Caption transcript - when clipping video, SnapStream automatically trims the closed caption transcript as well, so the clip is also searchable. Browse the library for the show or clip, and instead of playing the file, choose "Download Transcript" from the about program page. A dialog will open asking where you want to save the text file of the transcript. The only massaging required is to remove the timestamps, which can be done in any text editor. Copy the text to Wordle.net's create engine and sit back to admire your work.

How did we learn of this capability? Interestingly enough, a customer turned us on to the ability during last years election. Ultimately, the goal was statistical analysis of candidate speeches - the cloud representation was just a by-product. We are never ceased to be amazed at the uses customers find for our products.

Using TV Search to get Laughs

July 21 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

Below is a prime example of our TV search technology. The writers of E!'s The Soup did a simple search on the word 'Twitter', and were able to pinpoint and clip out all the mentions of Twitter on TV to create a montage of 'Twittermania'.

For an in depth look of our search feature read our previous blog post Feature Spotlight: Advanced TV Search.

How Elected Officials Enhance their Media Monitoring Efforts

June 05 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

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Join us for our web seminar (June 23rd, 2:30 PM CST) specific for the communications offices of elected officials, and learn how your office can leverage TV content to interact with your constituents in a more responsive and efficient way.

Many government officials across the country are currently using SnapStream to aid them with television media monitoring. They are able to simultaneously record news channels (including CSPAN, CNN, Fox News, etc.) plus any internal cable TV feeds 24×7 and then search the closed-caption text for keyword mentions to keep track of legislation issues and media appearances. And with the relaxation of the Franking Rules this past January, they can now take advantage of SnapStream's clipping feature to increase their online video presence by uploading video clips to their YouTube, House or Senate page.

SnapStream is currently used in the offices of elected officials to:

  • Track TV mentions of officials, staff and legislation
  • Create clips for online distribution
  • Distribute TV using the existing office network
  • Record & search thousands of hours of TV
  • Eliminate manual search of video tapes and clipping fees

When compared to TiVos/DVRs, VCRs or clipping services, SnapStream provides dramatic improvements in cost and convenience.

Event: How Elected Officials Enhance their Media Monitoring Efforts
When: June 23rd, 2009; 2:30 CST

Sign me Up!

SnapStream gets namecheck'ed at Republican tech event

February 17 2009 by Rakesh

In this article on Slate.com by Christopher Beam, it's mentioned that SnapStream got a nice shout-out at the Republican Party's Tech Summit last week:

A woman named Carrie Pickett says Republicans should get hip to Snapstream, a program that lets you flag and record anything that appears on TV, like Google news alerts for video. So anytime a candidate is mentioned, they automatically have the footage.

Our product saw a bit of usage in this last election cycle, including now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and popular blogs "The Jed Report" and "Daily Kos", so it's cool to see that the word is spreading.

But I have one question... who is Carrie Pickett? I'd love to know where she heard about us -- if you know who she is, please e-mail me or leave a comment here. (Yes, this feels a bit like a Craigslist Missed Connection)

Feature Spotlight: ShowSqueeze

January 30 2009 by Lynne Burke

SnapStream's ShowSqueeze lets you separately recompress any standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD) recording to either Windows Media (.wmv) or H.264. These formats offer the same great recording quality as the other formats in a fraction of the space. And when you're recording thousands of hours of television, this can be particularly useful.

So, let's say you're recording at Fair Quality (2 mbps), by automatically ShowSqueezing all programs as they're recorded to a Windows Media file (667 kb/s), a server that once could hold 2000 hours of television can now hold over 6000 hours of television.

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1. In the SnapStream Web interface home page, go to settings. Choose ShowSqueeze from the list of options.

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2. In the ShowSqueeze settings menu, you'll see the option to Automatically ShowSqueeze all recordings (either all SD shows, all HD shows or all shows (SD and HD)). In this example, we've chosen to compress the files to the default Windows Media setting at Fair Quality (667 kb/s).

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3. Your program will immediately be compressed (or if you choose, can be scheduled for a later time). Once the compression is done, you'll see it in your list of recorded programs again.

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That's it. The ShowSqueezed clip is now ready to download or email. This particular program went from 3.27GB (it was originally recorded in Best quality at 8mbps) to .7GB, compressing it to about 25% of its original size (the Windows Media file setting in that example is 667 kb/s).

So, Automatic ShowSqueeze is especially useful if you are recording a number of channels 24/7, as many SnapStream TV Server customers do. In that case, you can even set your SnapStream Server to automatically compress programs:

  • At a global level (i.e., everything you record)
  • Just certain channels (i.e., channels you record 24/7) or
  • Just certain programs (i.e., one particular episode of CNN, as in the example above)

To maximize bandwidth usage, you can also schedule the compression to take place after business hours, for example, from 2-4 am. Keep in mind, ShowSqueezing takes server processing power, so you have to strike the right balance between space and processing power to get the best use of the server's processor in the quest for more space. For questions or more details, please contact your Sales Rep or Enterprise Technical support.

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