Putting “Relations” into Media Relations

No, I’m not advocating nepotism. It’s about “friend”ship.

Facebook friends. And Groups.

In previous posts I discussed why organizations should form Facebook groups, and gave examples of some of the open, closed and sponsored groups.

My work is in news media relations, so I have been thinking of how these tools could make life better for journalists and for public information officers, and how they could help us work together.

The online newsroom is one particular application for a so-called “secret” group in Facebook, because it would enable organizations to distribute news announcements, particularly embargoed news, to journalists who want to receive them. Media relations staff also could use the direct messaging function to communicate directly with particular reporters, if they are pitching a potential exclusive story.

Facebook also allows users to upload video to their groups instead of to their personal profiles. So an organization’s online newsroom in Facebook could have video of its officers or subject experts, enabling TV and radio producers to judge experts’ airworthiness. Sort of a “try before you buy” for broadcast journalists.

These online newsrooms for organizations may not need to be secret; “closed” may be secure enough to ensure that only journalists who agree to abide by news embargoes have access.
Journalists could create secret lists of their trusted sources, so when they need to get a call for experts out quickly in response to breaking news, they could send a group message to everyone on the list, simultaneously, instead of picking up the phone and calling one by one. They may still want to start calling after sending the message, but by having the general call out to key contacts, they will be more likely to identify good sources quickly. Or, if they are enterprising a long-term story, they could likewise use the direct messaging function to contact PIOs individually and confidentially.

These groups could help individual journalists and organizations accomplish their goals. A digital commons would be helpful too: a meeting place where reporters and sources could meet and interact. For medical news, I’ve written in more detail about this concept here.

It makes sense that health journalists might have their own professional Facebook group, and that PIOs also would have one. The great thing about Facebook is that all these groups could be managed with a single username and password. So you could create several groups, and join several others, without needing to log in on various sites.

Most of the real action in Facebook happens at the friend level, but groups are a place where those relationships can be formed.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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