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NASA & NY Times offer advice to brands considering Hangouts

Short-NASA & NYTimes-Hangout Advice
(Watch the full one-hour broadcast here)

I produced this Hangout with John Yembrick, Social Media Manager of NASA, Sona Patel, Social Media Editor of The NY Times and guests Ronnie Bincer and Natan Edelsburg. It was sponsored by PRSA NY as part of Communications Week.

NASA – the first government agency to use Hangouts – has done nearly 50 HOAs and The NY Times has done more than a dozen as part of their digital communications strategy. Here is some of their advice to organizations about the most important things they’ve learned about Hangouts.

Chief takeaway: Hangouts are not television. They should not be produced to look like TV or to be a one-way

broadcast. Hangouts do need good production values, especially good lighting and sound, but they should be interactive and and allow for spontaneity. There is a learning curve, and the platform keeps being updated and improved, so having an experienced Google+ coach is the fastest way to gain maximum impact with Hangouts.

The ability for Hangout viewers to interact by asking questions in real time during the event is what distinguishes Hangouts from all other video conferencing platforms. As Ronnie Bincer said “Hangouts are the truly interactive TV you can yell at and get an answer.”

Watch the video for more takeaways. It is time-stamped so you can jump directly to any segment.

John Yembrick’s Hangouts advice:
1- Don’t let production values overwhelm you
2- You need good connectivity, ideally hard-wired & good mikes
3- Make sure you have engaging content. “A lot of HOAs are an hour long & they put me to sleep.” Try to engage with visuals.
4- Don’t be intimidated by technology. People watching will be OK with mistakes you make
5- Keep Hangouts short. (Yembrick predicts that HOAs will keep getting shorter.)

Sona Patel’s Hangouts advice:
1- Set goals for your Hangouts. Be sure you know what you’d like to accomplish.
2- Think of Hangouts as “appointment viewing.” Many people watch the recording of the Hangout rather than the live broadcast. Be sure your Hangout will have good shelf life
3- Figure out logistics of producing the Hangout in advance and be sure all members of the team know their roles
4- Don’t forget promotion! You need to promote your event before, during and after in a variety of platforms.

Episode66 BSMediaB.L. Ochman is CEO of – Events & Training for Google+ Success, serving leading brands, associations and agencies. As a digital strategist, GooglePlus Helpouts coach, YouTube Channel Creator, President of, and publisher of What’s Next Blog, she’s been helping blue chip companies incorporate new media into their marketing mix since 1996. B.L. contributes to Ad Age Digital Next, Social Media Today and others and has spoken at more than 25 marketing conferences. Follow B.L. on Google+ or Twitter.