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[Outside the Industry]: Generation TikTok (Lunchtime Speaker)

October 27 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

In public affairs and advocacy campaigns, we often struggle to find ways generate creative and compelling content that will resonate with our target audience, especially a younger one. In this session, Dave Jorgenson, Washington Post’s “TikTok guy” and author of Make a TikTok Every Day will discuss what it’s like to create TikTok videos for a major newspaper, where his ideas come from, and what this could mean for the future of news and information consumption in America.


Speaker: Dave Jorgenson

  • TikTok best represents Generation Z and Generation Alpha
    • The app is the next generation of video apps, and really understood how their young users were using their phones and consuming content
  • Learning objective in using TikTok: meet the audience where they are 
    • When you go to an event, you bring something to share. It’s the same with TikTok, the goal is to bring something to the table
  • Getting started
    • Dave discovered TikTok in late 2018
    • Pitched in March 2019
    • Launched account in May 2019
      • Aligns with when TikTok was on a meteoric rise
    • Within 2 days had 10000+ followers
      • Really popped off in September of 2019
      • Now have over 1 million followers
      • Hundreds of WaPo subscriptions from TikTok
      • Lead to more interest in news and increased trust in the post
  • Success on TikTok
    • Video editing is essential, having experience with that can make videos feel more polished and give you more capability
    • The owner of the account must know the voice of the organization
    • Striking a balance between ease and humor and substance
    • A collaborative effort can help with creativity and with acceptance from org management
    • Editing in a computer instead of the app helps content creation be easier
    • Each TikTok has to have a story, so aim to have each TikTok have a beginning, middle, and end to help maintain audience attention
    • You can shoot a TikTok anywhere, the important piece is showing polish in the editing
      • Unless showcasing a place specifically, it’s less about place and more about editing and content
    • Using in app effects and sounds can make your video be more discoverable and relevant
      • Using trending sounds can help videos be much more discoverable
    • On more serious issues, it can be a strength to involve other staff voices that have more of a tie to the issue in question, and show authenticity
      • Keeping in mind, accessibility, diversity, and inclusive language are necessary in creating content
      • Captions are helpful for accessibility but also if someone downloads the video and posts it out of the app
    • Looping content can help boost views, but it also allows for a more pleasing viewing experience, viewers tend to appreciate it. Plus, it can be used creatively
    • Tying in information, jokes, and cultural relevance can have a major impact.
    • Creating a weekly TikTok plan can help with content management but also help with audience loyalty
    • Live events: keep it simple, no longer than 15 minutes, people can join at any time.
      • Interviews are best for this, either conducted with another person during the live or answering audience questions as you go
      • Lives are a good way for people to discover you
    • Tiktok is the app of the moment, but the jokes and parody format isn’t necessarily new. But mastering how to deliver the content is key
    • At the end of the day, the audience decides if the effort is worth it, so you should put effort into the content, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t make the splash you want
    • TikTok is evolving and so is the audience that uses it
      • They are listening to their audience and taking feedback into consideration
    • The audience informs TikTok more than TikTok informs the audience
      • Showing the arc of content on the app shows this, less dancing, more organic content creation, skits, etc.



  • Do you physically write out your script?
    • Looking at headlines, looking at trends, how can we work these together?
    • Now scripting is much more necessary because of the schedule, but improvisation helps show authenticity
  • How do you bring levity and humor into brands that are much more serious?
    • It helps to plan with content that you hope for and then content that you expect will be approved.
    • Using other related orgs as a benchmark for what’s okay for your org
  • Are there now too many cooks in the kitchen? How do you pivot and separate yourself when needed
    • Style plays a factor, if you differentiate yourself in terms of style, and have a distinct voice, you can separate yourself from the over-saturation. A designated host can help with this
  • How do you navigate flops?
    • Sometimes low views just happen. In terms of navigating trends, success will not always be linear
    • Quantity over quality – continuing to post will help lead to success
  • What should you avoid?
    • Depending on the use case, avoid dark/crude humor or something that someone might misinterpret
  • To what extent can companies join TikTok before it becomes uncool?
    • So far we haven’t reached that limit yet. Since the app keeps evolving, there are other ways that people will keep coming back, and content isn’t stale yet.
  • How do you navigate intense negative feedback on TikTok from users that really disagree with you?
    • Diverse creators being on the ‘wrong side of TikTok’ and encountering ‘haters’
    • Hiring a TikTok team that have diverse perspectives and can help cover a broader voice
    • Depending on the issue, levity in terms of responses can be helpful. If someone is negative not a legitimate reason, staying light can help fizzle the issue
  • Camera tips for video hosts not comfortable on camera?
    • Utilize extroverted staff members that aren’t afraid of performing and are comfortable on camera
    • Having a TikTok go well can help increase comfortability as well.


October 27
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category: