Ric Cantrell is the Chief Deputy of the Senate in Utah. Utah State Senators are part-time with a six-week working session and a monthly committment of two days. The twenty nine Senators are supported by a staff of five where everyone, including Ric, wear multiple hats. The Utah State senate can be best compared to a start-up where the ability to get the right information in/out quickly and accurately is critical.
This small team is always looking for efficiencies and the press release was one of the first areas they were able to save time and money while improving the quality and quantity of the information they delivered. Instead of spending four+ hours on the press release process they now follow a multi-step process (see the picture to the left) that only takes them thirty minutes (16% of the original time).
While press releases are still needed sometimes, they have been replaced by more personal and direct means for most updates. The new process, written in marker on a board in Ric’s office, is flexible, easily modified (have an eraser?), and balances traditional and new media channels. While this exact process may not match your needs the approach, and the thinking that went into it, should.
- Room setup. You can’t beat face to face communication. Journalist and other interested parties still come in for announcements.
- E-mail external. Notify the journalist and interested parties that an announcement is coming soon.
- E-mail internal. How often do you forget to share information with your organization? There is nothing worse than learning news about your organization from external sources.
- Personal notify. Are there key people you want to update personally?
- Text messages X2. Send text messages, internally and externally. Some people prefer SMS to email.
- Blog announcement and live stream embed. Let the rest of the world know of the coming announcement.
- Ric includes a live feed to the announcement so that people who can listen to the announcement without being in the room.
- Twitter with live stream URL. Notify your social media connections on Twitter.
- Facebook with live stream URL. Notify your social media connections on Facebook.
- Podcast. A digital recorder tapes the entire meeting. Not everyone can, or will, watch the video feed.
- Blog update. Update the masses after the meeting with the information you want to get out from the meeting.
- YouTube. The meeting video is uploaded to YouTube.
- Photo albums. Any great photos to share? Upload to Facebook and Flickr.
- Follow-up with reporters. Any clarification required?
- Follow-up with others.
- Ongoing 2.0 conversation response. What are people saying, what are people asking, on Twitter, Facebook,and other social media channels.
- Press release? If needed, rarely now, an old-fashioned press release is still done.
Again, this process is stream-lined for political press announcements but the concepts, and the approach, should benefit any Social Organization. The approach followed in Utah has a few benefits:
- While there is a human resource cost there is almost zero cost for tools.
- The audience for the message is able to receive the message unfiltered. Those that want to read the information through newspapers or other means can, of course, but others can choose to see it through video or audio-only means directly from “the horse’s mouth”.
- The conversation continues. No longer is the message only pushed out. The audience for the message can engage, ask questions and get answers on multiple channels. The conversation continues on the blog, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
How can you apply these ideas to your organization?