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.
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.