Perfecting your practice

Reporting live – what you need to know

By Peter Hulm

Live reporting across the Internet from your events is an obvious way to boost involvement with your organization. But it is no job for amateurs. Can you afford it?

The website NonProfit Tech for Good (NTG) organized a webinar in mid-February on "How to Report Live from Nonprofit Conferences and Events". Its findings apply to U.N. and other internatioal organizatios as well, as I can attest from experience.

What works in live reporting

As its 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report points out, 52% of nonprofits worldwide have used social media to report live. "Conferences, fundraising events, marches and protests, online events, TV broadcasts, and updates from the field are ideal for live reporting."

Train and practise

It warns, however: "Live reporting from nonprofit conferences and events requires an advanced skill set, training, and a lot of practice."

We are here summarizing its conclusions from the online discussion:

Top reporting tools

The top 3 live reporting tools are:

Facebook: for posts, live streaming of events and interviews.

Twitter: Tweet in real-time and stream using Periscope. (The Tweet says: For every 1,000 email subscribers, NGOs have an average of 355 Facebook fans and 132 Twitter followers).

Instagram: Share photos and video clips and stream using Live Video Stories.

How often to post, tweet and stream during live events? NTG's recommendations

Facebook: Due to the limitations of the algorithm, the best practice is to share three posts daily and use Facebook Live at least once when live reporting. Videos secure the most reach at 12.17% of total audience.

Twitter: During live events, the ideal tweet rate is once every 5-6 minutes. Tweets can be text-based, images, graphics, or live streaming on Periscope.

Instagram: Again, due to the limitations of the algorithm, share photos and videos clips three times daily and live stream a story at least once per day.

NTG offers some tips, too, on how to get organized before the event:


Your nonprofit will need at least one staff person on the day whose sole purpose is to tweet, post, share, photograph, record, and stream.

If you plan on conducting interviews, you’ll need two staff people – one to conduct the interviews and another to record/stream, the website points out.


You’ll need a laptop and smartphone and easy access to charging stations during the event. In addition, you’ll need a selfie stick and possibly a tripod.


One of the most important actions you can take is planning your hashtags

If your organization is host, create a short hashtag for the event (e.g. #PolarPlunge), NTG advises. If it is an annual event, such as a conference, then add the year to the hashtag (#PMDMC17).

"Use hashtags on all pre-event promotional materials i.e., conference brochure, Facebook Invite, event landing page, social media promo graphics, etc.," it adds.

"Your event hashtag should be used in every tweet, post, and graphic leading up to the event, during the event, and after the event."

Preprepare content

How to tweet effectively during live events

Only tweet the most interesting quotes and stats presented by event speakers, NTG instructs NGS: "The goal is not to repeat verbatim all that is being said in a sessions, but rather to share the most impressive highlights."

That was my strategy at the Davos Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum for nearly 40 years. I told writers that participants wanted the three "take-home" ideas from any session, rather than a comprehensive summary of panel speeches.

The importance of paper

This is the only argument I have with NTG about reporting live events. Quick notes are as interesting to participants as to outsiders. Davos had up to 300 sessions. No matter how rich you were, you couldn't attend all of them. The one-page summaries by my 17 writers enabled them -- and the hardpressed journalists present -- to follow their own interests while being sure that the summaries would alert them to anything special they had missed.

Billionaires don't do web pages

I was originally hired to keep journalists informed who could not get to Davos or into the conferences. But it developed into a feature of its own within the information circus of Davos. The printing shop was kept busy producing copies of the summary sheets for participants, who could be seen in crowds at the distribution shelves grabbing the copies and stuffing them into their briefcases to take home to help them prepare the info sessions about that year's Davos for their boards.

Digital isn't always quickest

Eventually all the summaries went digital as well as in printed form, but the dead-tree versions were always popular (only a quarter of the billionaires read their own email, one session discovered). So NGOs who abandon print for the web may want to think twice, particularly if they can deliver to event participants on the spot.

Be quick

It proved the most successful innovation I brought to the International Chamber of Commerce, when I was hired to provide services for a meeting on new digital technologies. Participants loved having a summary of the morning sessions physically available for them when they came back from lunch, and the afternoon discussions summarized before they headed into dinner.

When you don't need news now

For organizations like the World Conservation Union (IUCN), where immediacy was less important than indepth coverage, I put the emphasis on putting together a good journalistic story. But this requires someone with solid reporting experience who is not fazed by the pressures of assembling material quickly and accurately. It is not a job for ad hoc volunteers. They get overwhelmed by all the material and frustrated by their inability to pull it into shape. They often freeze before the computer screen and are unable to produce.

Reporting without editors

At conferences, takes notes and write tweets first in Word. This helps avoid tweeting bad grammar, misspellings, and incorrect punctuation.

Breaks and lulls

During session breaks or lulls in the event, tweet/post your pre-written tweets, e.g. Millennials most inspired to give by social media. Gen X and Baby Boomers by email: -- #IFC2016.

Put quotes on images

Embed longer quotes on images and then share on social media.

Pick who you tweet

Retweet attendees and speakers who represent your mission and core values that are also live reporting at the event.

Have bios and headshots ready

If you are the host, throughout the day share links to the event agenda and announce new speakers by linking to their bio and headshot.

Live interviews

Some of NTG's most useful advice is on interviewing, which your staff might otherwise have to learn from unhappy experience:

Follow up and archive

After the meeting, think ahead with your work to archive the material you have available, NTG says.

Resources for live reporting

NTG adds some resources to help you with live reporting:

Peter Hulm helped organize, worked on and edited the summary writing from Davos from 1984 to 2011 and has performed the same service for other conferences, including the International Trade Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.