The Power of Social Media Live and the Modern Education System
Patrick Riccards Shares How Live Stream is Revolutionizing the Communications Industry and It’s Application in Education.
Patrick Riccards, Chief Communications & Strategy Officer at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Founder & Author of Eduflack, joins Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media and President-Elect of PRSA-NY, to talk about how live stream is revolutionizing the communications industry and how this change applies to education.
Interview transcript below:
Doug: Hi I’m Doug Simon CEO of D S Simon Media and President elect of PRSA New York. I’m joined by Patrick Riccards Chief Communications Officer at the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation and founder and author of Eduflack. Thanks so much for joining us. Great. Now we’re being joined on more than 17 different social streams as part of a live broadcast to Social Media LIVE ™. One of your areas of expertise and knowledge base has been in live streaming and you’ve seen it grow. Why do you feel that live streaming has become such an important part of the communications?
Patrick: I think at the end of the day it gives us power. I think when we look at it, we know that for individuals to hear something to truly understand it they need to hear it six, seven, eight, different times. We know they need to hear it in different ways. And if you look at live streaming you know we used to have this “what if you can get that one piece on TV?”. It’s a home-run. Everybody’s going to be happy. But does it change behaviors? And what we see with live stream it gives you the powerful to micro target, to really engage in a completely different way so that you’re reaching people where they’re seeing it on the platforms that they’re engaging, making sure that we’re really listening to the viewer, more than we are the folks like us who are doing the talking.
Doug: Yeah. Interesting that even less than two years after the introduction of Facebook Live, there’s actually more content that’s viewed as live video on Facebook than video on demand. Things are changing rapidly.
Patrick: And I think at the end of the day we want- we want the live stream because we want to be part of the experience in real time. We’re tired of individuals who are prepackaging things for us who are smoothing out all the rough edges. We want to see life as it happens, and live streaming provides that.
Doug: Video has been powering and driving engagement and we’re seeing that grow across multiple platforms that have been launched. One of the new things here and it’s interesting to get your feedback about the power of being able to not just limited to one or two streams at a time, but to be able to go with more than 25 streams live multi-channel streaming. How important is it to reach the wider more dispersed audience?
Patrick: I think working across multiple platforms the multiple streaming is essential in today’s day and age. I mean you look at the evolution a decade ago when we were first starting to dip our toe into things like Twitter and it became you how do we get content across the written content across multiple platforms. What we’re seeing now is-I mean there are so many different ways that people are watching that you know, the type of service you’re talking about really becomes incredibly exciting because it allows us to again work across those multiple platforms and understand in real time how individuals are responding to different messages, to know that what may work well on a Twitter platform is different than Facebook Live, is different than what people are seeing in LinkedIn. And it allows us to tailor our messaging.
Doug: What are some of the applications when it comes to education? I know at the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation you’re helping provide for some of the best quality teachers in multiple markets across the country. Is there a benefit to being able to share communications across all of their channels at the same time?
Patrick: I think it really becomes a non-negotiable. I think when we look at what we’re trying to do for instance the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has been working with MIT to build a new type of graduate school, one that better addresses the needs of prospective teachers today and tomorrow. And the question we get again and again is what is this experience like and what does it feel like to be one of your fellows. They don’t want to have something you know, shined up and packaged and go through multiple rounds of production. They want to see it happen in real time unfold in real words. And when we do live streaming with our teachers it allows them to experience that; it allows them to see what that moment in time is like for one of our students. That’s something that we can’t do in any other way. It has to be done through life stream.
Doug: This would be the time, if my production team wasn’t smart enough to say you should get your cell phone out of the room, so it’s not distracting, where I would hold it up and say there are a lot of applications where holding up the imaginary cell phone or just capturing video that way makes sense. But there are other times where you want a more broadcast quality production. Especially if you’ve got an event something that you’re planning something major that you want to communicate with more troops so there are times to go behind the scenes with one phone and that obviously can work with Instagram video. But are there times where you want to go multi-stream at a higher quality level.
Patrick: I think absolutely again, I think when you look at something like a college or university we have an expectation when you’re asking somebody to write a check when you’re asking somebody to take out loans they expect to see something right. And I think when you’re doing it in the higher quality, but you’re still doing it in real time it really provides, I think something special and something unique and you know we’ve got far. If you look at individuals say they’re far more savvy when it comes to this. They know expect a live streaming from your phone is something you do with your friends. It’s something you throw up on Instagram when you’re looking at something that is more content driven when you’re looking at something that is more ad because of your decision making based. They do expect to see a certain level of sophistication to it but they don’t want to see all of the life all of the realness stripped from it. And I think the live streaming across multiple platforms allows us to do just that.
Doug: And it’s interesting when you mention the friends, it’s a mix of friends who are watching business partners, prospects there are all sorts of audiences now that are engaging on multiple levels and there are times when you’re say, going through a Facebook channel whether it’s of an influencer or someone in the industry, there are people within their universe who might know other people for whom the information is relevant. So, it’s need of live, as it’s not only a live experience but then it lives on as a video on demand and being cut and parceled in many different ways.
Patrick: And I think that becomes again an enormously powerful tool for us. I think when you look at an organization like ours, you look at whether it’s companies or political campaigns or nonprofits or even individuals that I know I’ve worked with across my career; is one of the things you try to teach. You’re so invested in creating content. How do you continue to multipurpose it? How do you realize the content is not just a one time thing whether it’s the written word or whether it’s video? And I think live streaming particularly as you’re talking about it really allows one to see how they can maximize all of that that it doesn’t become that one time effort. It allows us to figure out how we can then use it for multiple multiple opportunities down the road
Doug: Promotion is also key you’ve got to create awareness which is nice with the multiple channels. Typically, you want to put some initial promotional material letting people know what’s happening maybe four to five days advance, then maybe reminding them a couple of days before the day before even the morning of, with different content to create that awareness. And then of course organizations that want increase promotion can actually support it with paid, to create awareness among its key targets that this content is available.
Patrick: Absolutely. And I think you know we look at that you look at whatever organization they are there is they’re strong on some platforms they’re not as strong in others. And by working across the multiples it allows us one to take full advantage of where our strengths lie. And hopefully use that content then to grow the platforms where we want to see growth.
Doug: Transmission technology is changing so fast. I was actually one of the spark plugs to the idea in this studio we have satellite connectivity can broadcast live and our provider was looking at changing how they acquire the signal so that started us looking into different ways to actually get the signal to where could be broadcasting multiple channels. Interestingly where years ago were maybe a year ago from many events you would need a satellite truck to be able to get the signal in high quality out of the location. Now we’re doing upcoming event for a manufacturer at the New York Auto Show. You can bring a box with you. That is the same counter capability for distribution as a satellite truck. So it makes it more efficient easier to set up and can significantly lower costs even to get the higher quality.
Patrick: And I think that really is what makes it so exciting. I mean I look at all the different organizations I’ve worked with and one of the first things you say is we simply can’t afford to do this sort of thing. We can’t afford to bring in the satellite truck. You know what you’re talking about now is you know we now have the ability through live streaming in through through really bundling it across multiple platforms to demonstrate. Anybody can do this. If you’re smart if you understand your message if you understand the technologies available to you, you can take full advantage of this; this is not just for the big boys anymore.
Doug: And you know we should get a little bit into your background obviously successful entrepreneur in the education space your founder and author of Eduflack. Tell us a little bit about that.
Patrick: Sure. I mean Eduflack was one of those things I had started it’s now about 11 years ago it started off as a blog. Back when we thought blog that everybody was going to revolutionize instead of becoming your own video producer, your own talk show hosts, we were all going to become newspaper columnists. And it provided me a platform quite honestly as somebody who works in the communications space to find my own voice and to recognize that there was a gap in terms of what we were talking about in education at where that intersection of politics and policy and communications were my own background was there was a gap. There was something that needed to be filled. And so I used that and enjoyed blogging I found a cathartic. I didn’t expect anybody would actually read it. And then at one point I had a client who said hey we want to we want to do this whole Twitter thing. And I had signed up for Twitter to me as a writer it seemed like the silliest thing in the world at the time being able to communicate in 140 characters just was not for me. And when an organization says we’d like you to help us with our social media you very quickly have to learn how to actually use that social media. And so over the years have done that and have been able to turn Eduflack as one of the most successful educator policy social media platforms in the country. Every year in the annual rankings by Education Next it’s it’s one of the top 10 platforms for communicating on education policy in the country.
Doug: That’s awesome and obviously you mentioned education policy politics in the same sense of recent tragedy with school shootings has really caused a closer look at what our policies in the schools, things like arming teachers and I know you’re in that space at the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation placing teachers within school environments. You know what some of the thinking of both your organization and some of those issues, and how those needs need to be addressed.
Patrick: Sure. Well I think what we’re doing at Woodrow Wilson it’s really the notion of how do we get excellent individuals into the classroom. How do you get those with strong content knowledge in science and math into a teaching profession when otherwise they wouldn’t have thought about joining teaching, particularly in some of the communities that need them the most. And I think what we see in terms of the work we do at Woodrow Wilson in changing the way that we’re preparing teachers and looking to transform the way universities across the country are preparing to STEM teachers and looking at the work we’re doing at MIT and transforming the way universities themselves exist you realize that in education change is hard. And I think we start to see that when we get into the issue of politics and education you know you see Secretary of Education and Betsy Divous who came into power believing in a whole lot of change that was necessary in bringing about a new era in school choice whether it be charter schools or vouchers. And we’re 13 months in and we haven’t seen any action. You know you see issues you know how many times do we need to see a school shooting, where we offer thoughts and prayers we wring our hands. We take a moment of silence. Even yesterday we walked out of school for 17 minutes to honor those who died in Florida. But we rarely see changes in policy. Change is hard. It’s particularly hard in education. In a system where we believe that we do things the way we have always done them because that’s the way they’ve been done.
Doug: And from your experience since you’re involved with so many of the amazing young people who would be applying for these types of fellowships, because it’s really a special person and you know the Teach for America and there’s some of these programs that are looking to engage sort of the best and brightest. Now we see the students getting way more engaged in the gun issue now. Does that have the potential to make the difference because young people notoriously seem to be least involved in politics they vote at a lower level. Just from where you’re sitting do you see some of those issues changing?
Patrick: I do. I think we see those issues changing in terms of advocacy and I think you see those issues changing with regard to education itself. I think we are now seeing students wanting to take a greater role whether it be in elections themselves whether it be in issues like school violence. I think we’re also seeing very slowly but we’re seeing that same thing happen in education itself where we’re seeing that for centuries now whether it be our colleges or K-12 systems, schools are built largely around the system, they’re built around the adults who are there to deliver the education. And we’re seeing more and more from students that the learners themselves want to be in control. They want to be the ones that decide what is best for them. It’s why you see the rise of personalized learning in schools. It’s why you see the rise in mastery based education. I think you’re seeing the same thing as students are beginning to talk about the type of atmosphere that they want. You know we’ve we’ve seen it now as students have begun to dip their toes in issues like bullying and cyber bullying. And we’re now seeing it specifically with school violence. I think the challenge to students is we have this belief that today’s students have a shiny object syndrome that they’re focused on this right now and next week they’re going to be focused on something completely different.
Doug: And I think the first lady is taking up anti-bullying as her core issues as well and I should definitely say set you up for some of your final thoughts about this.
Doug: Just thank everyone who’s been watching on the various YouTube channels on LinkedIn connecting to YouTube through LinkedIn, Facebook live, on Twitter and the multitude of social channels both for our own for Patrick’s and other groups. Now as we wrap up; where is this going to go from here or are we going to see these students young people empowered to break away from “Oh great I can get on my cable news network that matches the flavor of what my politics are, or the site that matches the flavor of what my beliefs are for the moment so they can just be hardened and strengthen.” Or could it potentially using these multiple social media channels break out to where they’re reaching different audiences and having more of an open dialogue.
Patrick: I’d like to think the latter. I’d like to believe that for those students that are deciding to take action. This is an opportunity they now have the technologies and the communications tools to really break out and do things in a different way. I think where it’s going to fall though, is whether those students are really willing to push the envelope. It’s relatively safe for a student today to have walked out yesterday around gun violence. Particularly when you had universities across the country that were saying you know if they get suspended for it; it won’t impact them when they apply for college. I think the real measure the real test for today’s students is what happens when you don’t have permission from the powers that be. What happens when you’re trying to advocate for a position that may not be as strongly supported as keeping guns out of schools? What happens when there are real consequences negative consequences for your actions. What happens when someone is speaking as loudly and as strongly as you are on the opposite side. Are you willing to give them the same opportunity to be heard as you expect to be. I think these are the unanswered questions. We’d like to believe that today’s students are going to be able to step up and take advantage of that. History tells us at least from the past couple of decades that that’s not the way we often behave as Americans. So I think I have great hope in terms of where it can go. We certainly have empowered students with the tools with the messages with the ability to do what’s necessary.
Doug: Now they need to seize that opportunity and that will be an awesome thing if they do and people of all generations do getting pink in my ear that they don’t want this to go longer than the Academy Awards worthy PRSA New York Big Apple awards. I should probably wrap it up now that we’ve hit the 15 minute mark. Patrick I want to thank you so much for joining us really fascinating discussion.
Patrick: Thanks for having me Doug.