Skip to content

Using Pinterest for live event coverage: the upside

March 5, 2012

Pinterest - Academy Awards

If you didn’t watch the Academy Awards, our Pinterest board
provided beautiful coverage and commentary.

As a journalist, covering breaking news has changed radically during my career. We once had to wait till the next printed edition to report the news, letting our TV competitors break in live during programming with on-the-scene action.

Along came website updates, live blogging and live tweeting. Last week, we tried out something new: live pinning.

Could Pinterest provide a new way to hook readers on an unfolding event using nothing but visuals?

My colleague Jen Barnett and I have teamed up before on live coverage, so using special pin boards was a new opportunity to test the waters.

She has always watched Oscar night red carpets with an eye toward fashion. In recent years, she even shared photos of actresses via Facebook with running commentary.

Pinterest would take over that function nicely. And it reads well on a tablet and adequately on a smartphone screen.

We discovered some tricks you can use for your live pinning, whether for a conference, a party or a news event.

(And check out the drawbacks, too.)

• For starters, promote your board heavily before, during and after the event. A custom short URL (we used can be a big help: Ours was Don’t rely on just the pinners logged in seeing your pins; make sure your subscribers and social media pals know about it.

(Sadly, Pinterest lacks a messaging feature. Your next best bet is to @tag other pinners in the description or a comment.)

Oscar adAlso, I created a pin-friendly thumbnail that went with our live chat page (shown at right).

• You’ll need a steady stream of photos or videos to feed the beast. In live chats, blogging and tweeting, you can get away with transcribing the dialogue or your personal analysis. But with Pinterest, it’s all visual. You might not be aware of this, but the site allows you to upload your own photos (but not videos) to create pins. You don’t have to rely solely on pinnable photos and videos on websites.

Make use of those 500 characters Pinterest allows in the description. We didn’t use the actress’ name in every pin cutline, and that was a mistake. Making it search-friendly — even by editing after the fact — would still add value to the pins.

That description can include hashtags and @usernames, which become hotlinked within Pinterest automatically. Our most important tag was #oscarfashion, in case other pinners started using it (which they didn’t … this year). You can even throw in related URLs, but use a shortened version.

• Surprisingly, many of Jen’s red carpet pins generated a Like or a Repin here and there, but my single pin of Alabama native Octavia Spencer accepting the Oscar snagged dozens of Likes and Repins almost immediately. You can’t predict what will take off, so pin a wide variety of items related to your event.

Tweeting your pins gives you a little more publicity. Pinterest gives you two sharing options as you pin, Facebook and Twitter, but if time permits, you’re probably better off just pinning an item, then tweeting it. Once it’s pinned, go to the pin’s page, and then click the Tweet button. This gives you more control over how the tweet reads, rather than an oddly truncated one.

If you do decide to pin and tweet simultaneously, be sure to lead with the hashtag, since that guarantees it will be included in the tweet.

You can also do live promos by including a screenshot of your current pin board in a tweet.

• Knowing the red carpet portion would end shortly before the actual Academy Awards show, we created two additional boards, Oscar Best Dressed and Oscar Worst Dressed. This gave us a reason to continue repinning during the show, keeping the pins active in the main Pinterest stream. Think ahead: Create additional boards if needed and repin accordingly.

And when you repin, you can change or amend the description as you like for more context.

• You can tally your metrics fairly simply in Likes, Repins and Comments, along with board followers, pins and Facebook Likes. Unfortunately, no other metrics data is available. Your profile might also gain more regular Pinterest followers.

Our main Oscar board ended up with 246 followers and 56 pins.

With Pinterest as the flavor of the month, now is the time to experiment with collaborative pinning and event coverage. Maybe your conference will have the first live board to track it. Maybe instead of a blog carnival, you’ll have a friendly pinning competition around a 1-day theme.

It’s a great way to attract attention, illustrate breaking news and put a fresh face on the live blog.

More Pinterest:

• • •

Want to learn more about blogging, social media and communication?
See my full lineup of webinars throughout 2012. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: