How to use Pinterest in newsrooms

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter allow reporters to share their work with audiences worldwide, provide them with direct feedback and are a useful and up-to-date source of information which helps to dig out new stories. And social media are becoming increasingly visual. The best example is the development of the social platform Pinterest. With more than 10 million users, Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site in history. Let’s have a look at how this digital pinboard site can be used by newsrooms around the globe.

What is Pinterest actually?

Pinterest is a virtual board where you can add (“pin”) images from other websites and blogs. On your Pinterest account, you can have as many boards as you wish which showcase images related to a particular topic.

From the user’s perspective, Pinterest is like your private collection of your favourite pictures. From the perspective of the media, it’s promising platform which could drive traffic to the website, help engage users and promote their content. Let us explore how media can use Pinterest.

Showcase photo galleries

This is the most obvious way to use Pinterest. If you are running a website, there’s always plenty of visual information to share. Why don’t start by, say, pinning a picture of the day or a couple of images from your photo galleries?

For example,  „The Salt Lake Tribune“ newspaper doesn’t normally post entire galleries. Instead, the staff selects a few enticing shots and uses the pin as a teaser to invite readers in to the full galleries on the site, reports Director of community engagement & social media of Digital First Media Steve Buttry in an insightful post “How journalists and newsrooms can use Pinterest”.

Share infographics

Pinterest is not just about pictures but about any visual information. Infographics is a great tool to explain complicated things in an easy way – and they can be shared, just the way the technology blog Mashable does it.

Preview the next day’s content

Give your audience a preview of what’s next, writes Elana Zak of the technology blog 10,000 Words. You might want to post the next day’s front page or a photo of the person you’ve interviewed with a catchy quote and link to the interview when it’s published.

Create thematic content

Create separate boards dedicated to different topics which are important to your audience and are likely to be repinned. It might be a cooking segment where you share quick-and-easy recipes (as the “Smart Magazine” does ) or a sports board to showcase the most dramatic photos from the latest sports events.

Service- and fun-oriented boards like “Home & Garden”, “Pets & Wildlife” or “Travel” are also likely to attract users to your website. Those are the topics which “San Hose Mercury News”loves to pin.

Since Pinterest is more used by women than men, the trending topics are home décor, art, design and women’s fashion. That is why Pinterest is perfect for lifestyle coverage. For example, women’s style magazine “Burda Style”  pins the latest patterns and images of trendy clothes on its board.

Create separate projects

If you are working on a social project, it might be a good idea to create a separate account for your initiative. For example, Digital First Media has launched a Pinterest project  which tells the story of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers after the war.

Curate today’s news

You can also pin a collection of photos relating to today’s headlines. By doing this, you will let your readers scroll through the page and get the updates without having to surf the news websites. You will also have an advantage of knowing your audience and choosing the content accordingly.

Feature archives

Pin old covers of your newspaper or magazine to create a visual archive. For example, the “Time” magazine created two boards with „Time covers“ and „Vintage time covers“. This is a visually appealing way to tell your readers more about your media.

Also, you can pin images from the events organised by your medium. Thus you will tell the history of your medium and distribute your corporate news.

The archive can also be devoted to your area, just the way the “York Daily Record” did it by pinning historic photos of York County. “The Salt Lake Tribune” does the same and posts photos from “The Salt Lake Tribune” archives and “Look Back” series.

Tell stories

You can use separate boards for storytelling, like this story of the demolition of a power station cooling towers and chimney stack – from planning through to execution

Share weather photos

According to Steve Buttry, a newsroom could use several pinboards on local weather, with a board for each month or season and separate boards for big storms or heat waves.

„The Salt Lake Tribune“ newspaper

Introduce your staff

You can and should use Pinboards to tell people about your newsroom. By creating a board with photos and short bios of your staff, you will virtually bring them closer to the audience. Also, people tend to have more trust in the articles whose author is familiar to them, even if it’s just an online profile. The US magazine “Time” or the CNN’s board “CNN iReport staff”would be a good example.

In addition, you can create a “behind the scenes” or “making-of” board where you will post images of your staff at work. That’s what “The Guardian” did with its “Behind the scenes“board which provides a “sneak peek” into the newspaper’s offices, news room and open journalism.

Build community around Pinterest

Let your readers submit photos, share their visions and experiences and publish them on your Pinterest page. For example, in a series “Canada through your eyes” launched by CTV news, users get their photos pinned on a separate board.

Inform your community and earn money

Create an additional value for your community by featuring attractions, activities and events in the region. In this case, it’s both about information and fun.
Also, Steve Buttry of Digital First Media suggests developing multimedia directories to provide answers and generate revenue. That would be a place for the community to come for information and a place for businesses and organizations to advertise. You could set up a separate Pinterest account with boards for different business categories like restaurants, auto repair, etc and pin logos, building photos or product photos. The same goes for events: Companies could pay you for featuring their events like concerts, etc.


Not only can you inform your community, but also resort to your audience to dig into topics. For example, you can create a board on issues you want to cover and let your community add pins, so that they let you know how they see it. You can also ask for help while working on different issues – just create a board and let people know you expect them to pin all things they consider relevant.
You can also find sources for stories. “For example, let’s say I’m doing a story on “Star Wars” and I’m searching for people who love “Star Wars.” I can search for “Star Wars” on Pinterest and I might find that someone has a board (cross fingers he/she is local) and have a source for my story”, writes reporter Buffy Andrews.
You can create a board where you invite your audience to share content with you, which much like the CNN’s iReport. Al Jazeera has a board “Crowdsourced News“ which „is open for you to share your pins with us – anything you think is newsworthy, that we’re covering or not”.

Engage your audience verbally

Popular pins on Pinterest have three basic possibilities: likes, comments and repins. Rather than leaving it to users to decide on their own whether to take the time to comment on a pin, you can help create interest by asking a question. Use your new pins and boards as opportunities to converse with users on Pinterest, advises the “Social Media Examiner”website.

Pin your sounds!

Not only can you pin your pictures, but you can also make your sounds visual! This is extremely important for audio media outlets like radio stations or podcast platforms. If you are on Soundcloud (www., transferring you content to Pinterest is only a small step away. According to the Soundcloud blog, when you pin a sound on Pinterest, it’s artwork will be displayed alongside your other pins, and the SoundCloud HTML5 widget will launch when the pin is clicked. Shared sounds are fully attributed, and link back to their page on SoundCloud, so creators will always be credited. To pin a sound you can either use Pinterest’s “Pin it” bookmarklet or copy the URL of the sound you want to share onto the site.

Pin your videos!

Videos have their own section on Pinterest. This is a good opportunity for TV stations and websites featuring videos to promote their work.

Limitations of Pinterest

Pinterest has a number of limitations which don’t allow to see it as a full- fledged social media platform. What you can’t do on Pinterest so well as on other social media platforms:

1) You can’t use Pinterest for breaking news. Still, you can post some pictures related to the breaking news with a link to your site. It is still possible that the community will look for breaking news more in the future.

2) You can’t really use Pinterest to start a conversation with your audience verbally. According to statistics, users’ current engagement on the platform mostly consists of pinning their content. About 15 percent of time is spent on liking the content of others and just 0,7 percent of time is spent on conversation. Of course you can still try to encourage the others to comment. You can also mention other users in a comment by typing @username.

3) You can’t use Pinterest for hard news. Pinterest is rather a lean-back way to showcase your content. Although nothing can stop you from publishing breaking news on Pinterest, it’s unlikely that users will rush to see what’s going on. For breaking news, Twitter is a much better option.

“It’s too slow, the audience (right now) is too narrow, and there’s no elegant way to advance a story, which I think is key. On Twitter, obviously the story progresses unendingly in 140-character bits. On G+, you can continually update and modify posts; Facebook’s stream allows for a middle ground between those two”, writes reporter and social media editor Tim Herrera.

How to set up your account

That said, let’s have a quick look at how you can set up your own account. To get started, you no longer need an invite. Pinterest is now open for everyone to join. You can choose between logging in with your Facebook or Twitter account or just sign up using your email. After signing up, you can start creating boards  and pinning content right away.

It is important that you enable Pinterest sharing so that people can share your photos on their own boards. To do that, place “Pin it” buttons on your website. Don’t forget to add visual content to each story so that there’s an image to pin. All the buttons you need can be installed from the Pinterest goodies page.

More to read:

·         “Helpful links for learning and exploring Pinterest” by Steve Buttry
·         “How the Wall Street Journal uses Pinterest” by the tech blog “10,000 Words”
·         “An introduction to Pinterest” by the Wall Street Journal
·         A board of pins on Pinterest for journalists.
·         “Seven ways journalists can use Pinterest” by International Journalists’s Network
·         “Pinterest for Journalists: For Notes, Community and Staff” by Carl Lavin

By Natalia Karbasova
Originally published by: Deutsche Welle Akademie Asia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *