Lauren Boyer, a business reporter at the York Daily Record/York Sunday News, contributed to the following step-by-step directions for setting up a live chat between readers and panelists using CoveritLive. Many of these steps would also work for setting up a liveblog on your site where multiple staffers could contribute and readers can leave comments and questions.
First: Go to coveritlive.com and create a (free) account.
- Click the “sign in” button in the upper right hand corner and log in.
- Click on My Account in the upper right hand corner. The Build tab on the home screen should be highlighted.
- Fill out the information about your chat accordingly: Time, date, title and a link to where the chat will be displayed on your site (if you don’t have this yet, put in your home page and add the real link in later). You can schedule chats and liveblogs as far in advance as you’d like (and CiL recommends getting the file prepped and on your site days in advance, if possible).
- Click Next. On the next page, select a category (likely News or Sports).
Customize your embed code to the size of the chat window you want (make sure it will fit into your online story or blog template). Copy the code and paste it into whatever platform you plan on using for the chat (this might be a story file on your website or an entry on your blog).
If you are embedding the chat onto Facebook, WordPress or other sites that don’t allow iFrames, check the right box under the displayed embed code to get a custom code for you.
Set Your Panelists
Under Additional Options, click Add Panelist/Producers. Under Add Panelists enter your guest panelist’s e-mail address and press the green plus sign. Adding Producers would allow another person (presumably a member of your staff) to have admin access during the chat.
Then, click the green “Send Invites” button at the bottom. Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen.
Under Additional Options, you have these options available to add to your chat or liveblog:
- Enable Email Comments: Would allow users to email in comments that will show up in the chat console.
- Enable Reader Login Options: Make it so only logged-in users can comment. Login options include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or your own comment system.
- Add Twitter Feeds: Add tweets from specific Twitter accounts or a running hashtag to the published stream. This is excellent for liveblogs, but could also work with chats.
- Send an email invite to readers: Allows you to craft a custom email to send readers who wanted a chat reminder.
- Add a Coming Soon Reminder: Enabling this gives you a special embed code that will have a box for readers to sign up for reminders when the chat starts. (Note: Make sure the link in your Location field is right!)
Notify your panelist
After you’ve set up the panelists in CoveritLive, let them know that they should have received an e-mail from an application called “Cover It Live.”
Tell them it’s important to save that email, as it has the link inside that they’ll need to click on at the time of the scheduled live chat. When they click on it, they will need to enter a login or username. It’s easier to tell them to enter a new username, since they probably don’t have a CoveritLive account (your staff, however, should have accounts).
Once they click on the chat link on the date of the chat, it will open what Lauren describes to participants as a “90s-style chat room” or an instant messenger window.
At Chat Time
Sign back into your CoverItLive account. Under My Account on the left hand side of the screen, click Upcoming. Locate your chat under CiL Events, click Launch Event Now.
Note: If you’re on an account used by multiple people, click Settings on the left-hand side of the chat console and change your display name to your name.
Only you and your panelist can see the reader comments coming in to the right side of the chat screen. To approve comments, thus making them visible to the public, click the green plus sign on the individual comment. To send a private message to the sender, click the yellow key sign. To block a user, click the red circle.
Inside the chat, you have a lot of options for what you can do to enhance the reader experience, like adding polls, uploading media, adding trusted commenters (like other staff), displaying a scoreboard and adding in options on the fly.
Ending Your Chat
Just Xing out of the screen won’t do anything. Go under Tools on the left side of the chat screen, and click option that says End Live Event.
Access Your Past Chats: Go to My Account > Completed Events. Select the event you want and click on the buttons along the top of the menu to see what options you have available.
Edit Entries: You can edit your chat after the fact here, if need be.
Save your Archived Chat: Keep this content around for others to see. You have the to either leave the chat on-screen for a user to replay or you can copy it all down as HTML and save it in a file in your CMS. This is a good idea if you want the chat to be searched by Google.
Check your chat stats: Log into the account and click Completed on the left side of the home screen. Click the button to select your event and click the “Statistics” button (looks like a pink, blue and green bar graph).