On October 7, 147 million voters face the electronic ballot box to decide who will lead Brazil and our 26 states for the next four years. This is one of the most troubled elections since re-democratisation. In addition to governors and the president, the new state and federal deputies and senators will be chosen as well.
The campaign officially began in August, but coverage — and planning it — has been going on a bit longer, especially multi-media coverage. For the first time since the direct elections, in 1983, RBS Group organised fully integrated coverage for radio, print, broadcasting television, and, of course, digital.
This is how we organised it.
Planning, planning, and planning. Organising coverage integrating journalists from different newsrooms with different mindsets and different timing demands a project manager, literally.
It’s important to gather all the information (important dates and deadlines, teams and responsibilities, vehicles and distribution channels) and make it available for the all parts involved. And by available, I mean saving files in a cloud and using a management app or board. But don’t hide the main information.
Sit everyone at the table. The project manager can’t make it happen without everyone involved: the editor-in-chief of all vehicles, political editor, marketing analyst, product manager, salesperson, IT specialist, art director, video editor … even the security manager. Integrated coverage requires integrated and periodic meetings, clear deadlines, and goals.
And it requires knowing the audience’s needs. Before starting any plan, we ran a survey to learn what our audience — from readers and listeners to users — wants from our political coverage. They said they wanted more information and less complication, more analysis and less hard data, more proximity and less prolix.
Think bigger. We’ve all covered elections since forever, right? But what about interviewing the former candidates and getting their memories about their campaigns in a podcast format? And what about interviewing them with the main radio anchor and publishing this on our Web site, which also converts to televison and print platforms? We did this and more.
To create small nuggets of crucial information (such as “What does a senator do?”), we invited one of our most charismatic TV presenters and created small videos that are being distributed in the right device, channel, or screen, at the right time. The same material is converted into a spot format, a social media piece, and also an article in print.
Along with these “election products,” for the first time we will be broadcasting live for 24 hours on our Web site during the whole election day. This will include coverage from newsroom studios to the poll sites and city streets. We’re training reporters how to do live coverage on radio or video, and anchors will be at the newsroom at our central desk on that day.
For our television staff, this is pretty simple — the normal routine. For our radio, print, and digital staff, this is an exciting challenge — and an opportunity to improve the coverage and reach a broad audience, plus develop new skills.
Fight the fake news. As I’ve mentioned before, GaúchaZH is part of Comprova, a collaborative project to identify and explain rumours, misinformation, and content manipulation that might influence the 2018 campaign and election, especially on social media. Journalists from 24 newsrooms work together to verify information and then create short texts, cards, graphics, and videos to distribute in accessible and shareable formats.
In addition to this, we put our investigation squad to work verifying the candidates’ speeches and answers at the debates. Our Investigation Group (GDI) is seated together, and, in real time, the routine is check, publish, repeat.
Tell everyone about it. All initiatives are wasted if they are not well distributed and promoted. To do this, we use all our channels and vehicles to embrace the coverage under one slogan: “Every vote matters.”
The slogan supports our campaign and helps our audience identify what we are doing. Our goal is to sensitise the community about the importance of the conscious vote (in Brazil, it’s mandatory to vote, but not everyone does it in a responsible way) and guarantee to them we are doing everything we can to help make the best decision. At least, we put all the effort into trying!