Driving Audience to Traditional Media

The cinders outside of Boulder, CO, scene of recent wildfires, have burned out, but lessons to learn remain.  The editor of “Lost Remote,” Steve Safran writes stations and newspapers in Boulder did a good job of covering the fires but their best coverage was not on their websites.

The website editor made a substantial point during breaking coverage of the Colorado fires.  A point many news executives may have missed regarding how to exploit the huge increase this year in the use of social media.  Safran wrote about the wildfires:

“…the real news is on the station’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where moment by moment updates are flying.”

As a reporter, I spent decades in the field covering breaking news; natural disasters and all.  Traditional media has tremendous experience covering developing events.  Social media and user generated content are changing newsroom practices though.

Mainstream media has to break the circle of wagons and use the power of new media to deliver news and drive viewers, readers and listeners to traditional media for long form reporting.  New thinking has to begin in editorial meetings and travel to the assignment desk and into the production process.

Just as news executives plan teases, bumps, graphics, etcetera; they need to plan new media status updates for Facebook, Twitter, and their websites.  Here’s a suggestion from Safran, who wrote for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association blog.

“…whenever there’s a big event in your  community, snap up the Twitter name.  The media outlets should have snapped up twitter.com/boulderfire and used it as a dedicated feed.  Instead, they put the information on their standard twitter.com/wxxx feed.”

He argues the name of the event draws a larger audience.  A station’s website can use a widget to aggregate the stream of topic related tweets.  You can use lists and hashtags as well to gather user generated information readers and viewers will understand is unsubstantiated.  With the station’s branded Twitter account direct the audience to your website, where they’ll collect all sorts of information from users and reporters and learn about your station’s coverage.  “If it’s good enough for social media,’ Safran says, ‘it’s good enough for regular news.”  I second his advice on branding and placing user generated content in context.  Recent studies affirm traditional media is still the most trusted source of information.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

 

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