Local Radio: Making Radio Social Media Work For Local Communities During Crisis, Big News Or Terrorism

Posted on April 24, 2013

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The One Fund

When something as big as the Boston Marathon bombing takes place, local radio hopefully responds quickly. What about local radio’s social media.

Here are five things you should consider when tapping into social media strategy for handling important breaking news.

1. Think about your primary target audience (and those you most want to attract). An event like the Boston Marathon bombing really has the power to impact everyone. Relate the news to them based upon their needs and desire to be informed in social media. There are tons of ways to source content, including pictures and video. As you would on air, be very responsible in your coverage in social media. Your task is to make it personal and authentic coverage that your target audience responds to in social media. Obviously they will see a lot of different things in social media, but they are more likely to trust your content.

2. Play “Be The Ball.” Using the “view” from number one above, go to where the heat is. In other words, gravitate to the most important “what’s happening now” aspect of the event. And think about what might be next. Audiences move to what is now and what is next. Once a news event of this size happens, it is as if a clock has started and everyone moves along a time line. Get ahead of everyone else and stay in the now.

3. Carefully engage audience reaction. Always keep in mind your responsibility to remain a calm and objective servant of the public. When big events happen, a lot of information can be wrong or based more on emotion than truth. Be careful not to fall into opinion coverage. Stay visual, stay credible, stay relevant, and give listeners the opportunity to vent.

4. Look to local. If the event happens in your market, you don’t have to ask questions about who to call (hopefully). If the news event is not local to you, relate it to local. Be your market in social media talking about who the local responsible government and first responders are, and engage them. Yes, you can engage local fire stations and police PR to create “king content” that will be interesting and relevant to your local listeners in social media.

5. If you are handling news coverage on air, remind listeners when to catch updates throughout the day on your air and website assets. As always, I remind anyone creating social media strategic plans for a radio station to make sure that your focus is actionable, attention-getting, creative, and very visual, but always make sure you encourage listeners to tune in to your actual station or website. We want to be relevant and timely, but we also want to bring them back to products we own.

Social media gives you the opportunity to use your credibility in the community and top-flight content to expand your influence on the local listeners you most want to attract. Events like the Boston Marathon bombing (or any terrorist event on U.S. soil) give you the opportunity to engage local contacts inside public service and provide important information to your local audience while relating to an important national event. Do this and your credibility goes up. Not just in social media – your brand credibility as a critical local voice that knows will increase.

That’s a win for local radio and your own community. That’s our real business.

Loyd Ford
Americalist1@aol.com

*Content originally appeared @ RadioInk.com. For more content on radio, go to RadioInk.com. Look for my column on social media and radio on the left-hand side of the homepage behind my picture and the word “Engagement.”

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Loyd Ford is the Direct Marketing, Ratings & Social Media Strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He works with media brands all across the country to improve ratings and participation with custom contest strategy, telemarketing, strategic direct mail and social media for radio clients. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.

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