Since we’ve been talking about media this week, first about the supposed demise, then about what’s coming next, I thought we should talk about how we, as government communicators, can use the new media to help work with the old media. And it’s happening already. Some enterprising government folks are way ahead of you, and they’re reaping the benefits.
We all know about the Boston Police Department during the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt, and Emily Rahimi at FDNY, but there are lots of more examples of social media to help work with the media. That’s right, not just get information to the public, but actually facilitate working with the media, and one of my favorite examples comes from one of my favorite people on Twitter, Erica Creech, from the Cleveland Department of Public Safety:
On the morning of the press conference, Creech said, “we were trying to create a distribution list from all these media that were calling, and there just wasn’t time to create it. We said, ‘Well, let’s not waste any more time — let’s get something out and see if it works.’ ”
She got set up for the press conference, then began going through the DPS Twitter account to follow journalists and outlets who wanted to send her a direct message asking for credentials. (Twitter requires both parties follow each other so they can message privately.)
My local Red Cross Communications guru, Dave Schrader, regularly uses social media to drum up media interest:
Media friends working TOMORROW, I just sent your newsrooms an alert about a disaster drill that would make a great story.—
Dave Schrader (@dcschrader) March 01, 2013
A local university PR guy used it to direct media looking for quotes on breaking news, which is great, especially for topics that the reporters aren’t familiar with:
Our good friend Marcus did the opposite by trying to manage media expectations:
PR News interviewed Los Angeles County CEO Director of Public Affairs, David Sommers, earlier this year and found that he uses Twitter not only to engage with the media, but also to prep his office for what might be coming down the pipe that day:
PR News: What can PR Pros do with Twitter and LinkedIn to boost their media relations efforts?
Sommers: Our recent efforts have really focused on Twitter—using it as a monitoring platform to listen in on what the high-propensity reporters routinely covering County issues are saying about us, or about issues we are involved in. We’ve built several private lists in Twitter of reporters and media outlets of interest to us, and we strategically engage them. If I see what they’re writing about, I look for opportunities to connect them with a subject-matter expert. Anyone can find similar opportunities to engage. Look for ways to make a reporter’s job easier. Anticipate their needs. Twitter is a powerful resource for anticipating the needs of the media.
I love that final quote. Because news rooms are getting buffeted by financial storms (kind of like us!), isn’t it in our best interest to try to make it easier on the media to find us, to report positively on us, to help them out a bit? Not explicitly quid pro quo, but hey, man, I’m here for you, why don’t you take a second to listen to my pitch? Can’t hurt, right?