When it comes to Royalty, you can never plan enough!
It isn’t every day you get a Royal visit on your patch, not least the Royal couple of the moment, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Harry and Meghan to most of us.
Here, Digital Editor Alex Jenkins, gives an insight into how the Sussex newsrooms meticulously planned their coverage of the event and how it went on the day.
As soon as we heard the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were visiting the county we jumped into action, writing an initial story and then straight away launching a live blog.
A picture gallery of the royal couple was also added.
I asked all the Sussex newsrooms to send me links to stories they had written in the past about any royal visits as well as links to stories we wrote at the time Prince Harry and Meghan tied the knot.
We dug out previous stories about the venues and charities the couple were due to visit on the day, adding those into the live blog, as well as interviewing a stylist about what she thought Meghan might wear.
We asked prominent community leaders to submit articles about the visit and what they were looking forward to.
We quickly formed a working party, including our commercial editor Blaise Tapp who worked with advertising to fund a special supplement in the newspapers. He also helped arrange the press passes for the day.
Many of our reporters requested the chance to cover the day, and we also asked Highbury College to excuse our apprentices from lessons so they could be involved.
Ahead of the visit we set up hashtags, advising all reporters to use them in every tweet they did before, during and after the visit. This not only helped generate interest from readers but also helped us find all the tweets in one place to add to the live blog.
We divided roles between the team so that each of the four locations Prince Harry and Meghan were visiting around Sussex were covered, both in terms of the royal rota, website coverage, social, and photography.
Communication was key to getting this right, with a detailed email sent to everyone specifically stating what we expected, as well as a follow up conference the day before the visit.
In the early hours of the morning on the day of the visit, we published an article announcing the two royal walkabouts, making sure we included a link to the live blog, and socialising this straight away as well as during the early shift at about 7am.
Key to our coverage was getting all angles, with an initial video sent in from our editor-in-chief Gary Shipton who managed to get a great view of the couple arriving in Chichester. This story went online straight away and socialised, with the link also being added to the blog.
The blog in the end had 118 separate elements to it, made up of links to every story as they went online plus the constant stream of tweets that helped give readers a sense of what was going on.
This included quotes from onlookers, comments on what the pair were wearing, the atmosphere, pictures of the crowds, quirky things like a photo of the world’s media on step-ladders angling for the best shot…
We also uploaded video from the scene onto Twitter. This was then downloaded by one of our community reporters, Sam Wilson, who is a wizz with video. In the end he made nine videos, joining multiple videos together as well as creating picture slideshows from the pictures sent in. The rule was that every story had to have a video.
A Facebook Live by Bex Bastable for the Brighton & Hove Independent reached more than 30,000 people, was watched by almost 15,000, had 157 people watch it at any one time, and had 425 reactions, comments and shares.
Using Parse.ly we were able to monitor which stories were performing the best in real time, making sure the link to the live blog was in all stories, as well as then later in the day, adding links into all the stories that were overperforming, ensuring our readers stayed on our site.
After the visit, our video expert Justin Lycett put together a slideshow of key photos from the day which replaced the initial video created before the visit. The central team also created one video with highlights from the day which we hope to send to Kensington Palace.