Influencing Journalists with Social Media

I’ve long thought that, when properly implemented and utilized, social media can help public information officers manage the load of dealing with the media. I’ve heard some anecdotal evidence of this, but haven’t found any hard data to support the theory.

My thinking goes as such: minor situation updates and “nice-to-knows” (read: not press release-worthy) occupy the bulk of time spent by PIOs interacting with the media. “Just wanted to confirm one thing,” “has there been any updates to,” and “do you have a comment on” are some of the top offenders. They just take a minute to deal with, but are really just a transfer of information that don’t necessarily require face time with the PIO; anyone could provide those updates (provided they had the information and could read off a script). A proactive PIO, though, could utilize social media to make sure all situation updates are posted to the networks as soon as they are confirmed and ensure that the latest post is the most up-to-date and reporters don’t need to actually call the PIO for the latest update.

I’m not so naive, however, to think that as soon as you start this process reporters will stop calling you. It’s a give-and-take process that requires you to not only post things, but ensure that that feed is up-to-the-minute up to date enough that reporters know they can trust it as a source. It will take time, and unhappy reporters, and busy, busy times for the PIO.

Long-term, though…

I came across another piece of “anecdata” last week that I had to pass along. While not perfect, it shows how using social media to focus–specifically–on disseminating social media to journalists can help increase the scope of your outreach.

Melody Kramer, of NPR’s Fresh Air, is a total social media rockstar (and Philly local!) and recently gave a presentation on the show’s social media efforts, and it’s AMAZING. Definitely worth the time to watch.

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3 thoughts on “Influencing Journalists with Social Media

  1. JIm, I think social media has become one of the most important tools in media management. One major agency comms leader who uses Twitter continually reports that by using it for even relatively minor updates of information or very minor events, it cuts way down on media calls–which is good for a busy staff. The other day I was on the phone with him and he asked me to hold for just a minute. He was getting a twitter question from a reporter in a helicopter over the city. He tweeted the answer back. He told me the reporters absolutely love that he is using twitter the way he does but a number of the news producers don’t like it at all and refuse to use it. We talked about why. Two reasons I think. One, they are getting up and years (like me) and just being luddites, but the other is that they realize that tweets are open to everyone which limits their opportunity for a “scoop” or getting a unique angle. In my mind, all the more reason to tweet and then to tell those who call that everything you have to provide is on your website or twitter or both.

    1. It’s funny, Gerald, I am constantly amazed by how much of a greenhorn I am in this field. Media management is exactly the word I was looking for, and a great example of one of those duties that isn’t explicitly assigned to the PIO, yet remains a key function of the role.

      I truly appreciate you stopping by!

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