Are you a user, or a reporter?
That all depends. Do you just consume social media content, or do you contribute? And what do you contribute?
The Smart Phone has made each one of us a reporter. Gone are the days of Jimmy Olsen running around with a camera slung around his neck and a duffle-bag of lenses, looking for the next big story.
Every user of Social Media is now a potential reporter. We influence news on a daily basis. In fact, this aspect of the social media game has been embraced by the average user, as well as media outlets around the world.
But, Social Media still faces one major hurdle. Local Government bureaucracy . Some local governments have to be dragged, kicking and screaming in some cases, into the digital era.
These administrators apparently still haven’t seen the benefit of coming out of their Cold War bunkers during daylight. They seem to fear the thought of one-on-one interaction with the public. Too long a victim of “write a press release and hope it’s reported,” they can’t seem to get past their myopic fear of “that gadget stuff the kids use.”
Social Media Done Right
Social Media? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
…Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander, talking about figuring out how departments should disseminate information, is quoted as saying, ‘We are a public safety agency. We are not reporters.’
Mr. Quander, DMPSJ represents the residents of Washington, DC.
Mr Statter correctly points out that Deputy Mayor Quander is correct. He has wrapped his PIOs up in so much red tape that they are little more than cardboard cutouts, spouting approved jargon that issues from a central mouthpiece.
…Quander apparently doesn’t understand that one of the great advantages of social media is that it allows the PIOs for his agencies to be just what he says they are not. SM lets a PIO provide timely and instant information directly to the people, without necessarily having to go through traditional news media to relay their messages. In other words, the PIOs are now the reporters.
DC government appears to have completely missed the part about Social Media being the best way to reach most of their citizens, visitors and commuters.
The disaster that this is became apparent during the recent winter storms last week. A quick look at the Twitter accounts for the counties around DC show quite a bit of activity geared toward educating and informing the residents.
While the PIOs for agencies around Washington were using their Twitter accounts to get vital weather-related information to their citizens (examples here and here), the residents of DC received the following informative news (only tweet of the day):
UPDATE – Fire knocked down on 4600 blk of 4th St NW.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) February 13, 2014
Anyone who has ever turned on the news during a weather event knows how the news media handles the reporting of these events. “Team Coverage,” “Snowmageddon,” “Weather Emergency,” “It’s raining/snowing/whatever where I am, how about your location, Buffy?” Most of what they feed us during these “events” is fluff. Anyone with a window can usually tell if it’s raining/snowing/windy at their location. During the verbal snowball fights however, the media may let important information slip out. Stuff like school closings, emergencies, etc.
They get this information from the PIO. Most of these same PIOs post the same information on social media outlets, for the benefit of their residents, at the same time the media gets it.
As a PIO, are you able to interact with the citizens in your area? Is it time to look at your agency’s Communications Policy, and see if it meets the needs of your community?
If your twitter account has cobwebs and tumbleweeds in the corner, chances are it doesn’t.