Voice delivered news: Tips and Tools

The Innovation Lab explored three voice activated devices, including Google Assistants, Amazon’s Alexa, and Siri for newsrooms to integrate their content for storytelling purposes.

Here are five tips to get started:

1.) Decide on its function

Currently, news and briefings, podcasts, quizzes, and recipes are major content areas on VAA devices. However, VAA platforms are adding new capabilities that you should explore when building a skill. You could deliver nuggets of information (e.g., “The City Council voted 5:4 to approve… The newest restaurant in town is… Traffic this morning is…”), answer questions about your news service, products, or explore a topic you’ve extensively reported. It may also help to research how your audience interacts with VAA. Find out whether your listeners typically use their devices in the morning, evening, at work, at home, or even on a smartwatch during their afternoon jog! These will all influence how your skill is used and can help decide on an ideal skill.

2.) Choose your platform

Similar to developing an app, each virtual assistant will need to be created differently on each platform. Gathering insights into the home assistants that your typical audience owns as well as its primary utility may help determine the platform to choose. 

3.) Integrate

Customization on each platform can be difficult, but the smart platforms do have opportunities to integrate into existing services. For example, if you already maintain an audio podcast or news channel, upload your audio RSS feed directly to the voice assistant. This will help keep your content up-to-date.

4.) Explore templates

Similar to other technologies, coding is required for custom-built skills. However, there are tons of templates that allow you to create helpful and easy-to-use tools without coding on your end. Try out a few templates to get a feel for which best suits your purposes. 

5.) Have a plan to update content

If you are creating a flash briefing or daily update, keep in mind that it may require manual updates. The two main reasons for poor reviews were due to outdated content and long advertisements. Think of outdated news briefings as sending yesterday’s newspaper to the newsstand. If you don’t have the resources to update regularly or integrate into existing services, try out a more evergreen skill such as features, how-tos, and interesting interviews that audiences will enjoy weeks later.

To hear more about how a newsroom integrated VAA into its news platforms, head over to our interview with Remy Becher, Vice President for Product at the Economist.  If you’d like to check out our pilot using VAA, click here to enable the skill and then open it from any Alexa device by saying, “Alexa, start Innovation Lab.”


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