Exercise 1
Writing for Facebook

Read the story shared below and consider how you would promote the story on Facebook. Your target audience lives in a college town where parking is scarce at the best of times and is made worse by an influx of visitors for big events.

Read the story here.

After carefully reviewing the story, be sure to take another look at Know & Tell: Writing for Facebook Engagement in Chapter 5. Using what you know about the story and what it takes to create compelling posts for social media, use the box below to craft a post that you think would engage the audience.


This post was captured from the Facebook page of HottyToddy.com, a local news site which published the tow truck story. As recommended by digital content manager Brad Conaway, the post includes a relevant visual, it hooks the viewer with a lighthearted warning, and the story headline includes an interesting quote. In addition, the post includes a hashtag that was frequently used for people looking for and posting about the festival.

To make it stronger, Conaway would suggest the following changes to the way the web story shows up in the post: “I would keep the headline, kill the summary text, and above a better image (of a boot on a tire maybe?), say something like: We're here to help you not get towed this weekend. Share this to help us spread the word.”

HottyToddy.com’s Facebook page has about 83,000 likes and this post outperformed the average engagement per post by a significant percentage.

Exercise 2
Reporting With Twitter

Choose a topic in the news and use a Twitter search tool to see what people in your community or nearby are saying about it. You may want to try SocialMention as we did when an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines plane.

ATS4 SocialMention screenshot 2018-04-18 15.26.36

Or you could use Twitter’s advanced search or another search tool.

Twitter can be a useful source of story ideas and contacts but it can also be a little overwhelming. This screencast explains how to sort through the chatter using Twitter's advanced search functions.

Copy and paste in the box below the three tweets about a current topic in the news that you found most useful.

Describe how these tweets would help you find angles for stories about that topic.


  • Post the three tweets you found the most useful:
    • Tweet #1
    • Tweet #2
    • Tweet #3
  • How would these tweets help you find angles for related stories?

Exercise 3
Using LinkedIn for Journalism

LinkedIn is one of the most popular networking sites in the world with more than 100 million users in the United States alone. It has value as both a career development and a journalism tool.

LinkedIn allows you to search for people or organizations by keyword, so let’s say you are covering a story about students from your university who are on a Study Abroad trip in a country where fighting is disrupting travel. You want to get a quote or phone interview from someone at the U.S. State Department about the relative danger to the students, but no one from the press office is responding.

Create a free account at LinkedIn (if you don’t already have one), log in, and search for U.S. State Department. The site gives you an option to look “in People,” where you’ll find sources to contact.

ATS4-Module 5-LinkedIn1

From there, you’ll get a results page that reveals anyone who lists the state department in their profiles, but even more useful is the list of those people with whom you share connections. Those are people who are generally more likely to respond to you, if only to help you find the right person to speak to.

Look at the results in the screenshot provided, which of the people looks like the best candidate to contact? Why do you say that?

ATS4-Module 5-LinkedIn2

If you chose Victoria Thorman, we agree. First, the Foreign Affairs Office seems relevant to the story and the nine shared connections means we can try contacting her directly via LinkedIn or we can also look at those connections to see if someone we know well might have a good phone number for her or a personal relationship we can leverage.

You may be able to improve your chances further in this case by finding people who both work for the state department and who attended your university. To do this, you can find your school’s alumni page and search for the keywords “state department.” We used the University of Mississippi page and found 20 graduates who work there who may make good interview targets.

ATS4-Module 5-LinkedIn3

The more “connected” the person is to you, the more likely it is that they will be willing to act as a source for you. To learn more about using LinkedIn as a reporting tool, consider joining the LinkedIn for Journalists group.