5 Ways Journalists Can Use Pinterest

Does Pinterest, the year old digital pinboard site, have value as a tool for journalists?

The site’s gained a lot of traction in the social media world recently. It cracked the top 10 most trafficked social network sites, with 11 million visitors during the second full week of December, according to Hitwise. The site’s main users tend to be brides-to-be, people interested in home decor and lifestyle magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens. I haven’t, however, seen a lot of news organizations using it.

Don’t get me wrong. They are there. Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and the Today Show have some boards up as does Mashable and the Daily Beast. Individual reporters may also be “pinners,” as users are called, but it’s a bit hard to search for them. There are also users who create boards called “news” and pin news stories to them. Generally speaking, it just doesn’t seem like a lot of journalists and news organizations are in any hurry to use Pinterest for the news.

Part of the problem is that at first glance, Pinterest doesn’t seem incredibly relevant for hard news. The news orgs that are on it cater to lifestyle and health, creating boards mainly focusing on those topics. (Take a look at the WSJ’s boards.) With a bit of creativity and imagination, however, Pinterest could prove very useful for all areas of a news organization. If you are thinking about using Pinterest, just remember the site is still invite-only.

Without further delay, here are five ways reporters and news organizations can use Pinterest.

Share The News
This may seem like an obvious one but I can’t find many examples of it on Pinterest. Why not use Pinterest to share some good photos from a breaking news event, like a fire? Pin the photo and then add a link to where readers can find the most current information on the event.

The one I’ve seen do it best is Canada’s CTV News. The site sent a reporter to cover Occupy Wall Street and created a board on Pinterest. The reporter was able to upload photos she had taken to the site. There is also another board called “Tragedy and Triumph” with photos of Egyptian protesters, Canadian soldiers, house fires and more.

Give Your Audience a Preview of What’s Next

When I was a reporter, we would sometimes give readers a sneak peak of the next day’s front page by posting a picture of it on our blog. Use Pinterest to do something similar.

Have an interview with a well-known author? Pin a picture of his or her latest book with a short teaser about the interview, replacing it with a link to the interview once it’s published. The Today Show did this with Jennifer Hudson previewing her book on the show. Another example: Just days after Kim Kardashian announced her infamous divorce, her mother, Kris Jenner, appeared on the show. The show promoted the visit with a post on Pinterest.

Showcase Photo Galleries, Profiles, and Features
If you work at a community newspaper, one of the most popular items is always slideshows, especially ones dealing with local fairs or school events. People want to see if their children or someone else they know made the paper or website. Since Pinterest is such a visual platform, it’s immensely well suited for your site’s most popular photo galleries. Or pin (read: tag) the best shot from a profile story.

Wondering how to do it? Take a look at CBS New York’s page. The news site, which focuses mainly on New York City, has a ton of boards that highlight its features, such as the top NYC bars with fireplaces or where to find the best hot chocolate in the city.

You could also use it for Top 10 lists or other images your paper shares. Mashable uses it to collect the best infographics as well as for its tips and tricks sections. The Daily Beast/Newsweek has a “photos of the day” board.

Show Off Your Reporting Staff

Most likely, your viewers or readers don’t get to interact face-to-face with staff reporters too often. If your team is social media savvy, they may already have large followings on Twitter and Facebook subscribe. There’s no reason why you can’t show off your staff on Pinterest as well.

It’s simple enough to do. Just get a photo of everyone who is a regular staffwriter or contributor and make a board entitled “Staff” or something similar. Add a quick bio underneath. You could even include contact info. If you want, follow Time’s example. The news magazine has a board on staff and all its photos are in black and white.

You can also do a fun “behind the scenes” board. It’s a fun and easy way to give readers a quick glance behind the curtain.

Invite Readers To Participate
Have some reader submitted photos or are you running a contest on your site? Why not include that on Pinterest? CTV News has a great board called “Canada through your eyes.” All the pictures were submitted by viewers. It’s a nice way to feature user contributions and get their take on the town or city you cover.

PBS NewsHour also asked users to submit photos for its board, “Childhood Cancer Awareness: Your Photos.” The pictures are heart wrenching and beautiful, depicting so many moments that might not have been shared otherwise.

Would you use Pinterest in your newsroom, especially if you’re covering hard news? Or is it simply not suited for that? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.