In 2013, email and phone were the primary modes of communication for local media outlets to request information regarding emergency responses from Medic. This system resulted in using valuable staff time to field multiple calls and emails from reporters inquiring about each individual incident. In addition, response time to the media was inconsistent and therefore Medic’s full potential to inform the public was not being reached. Research of other EMS agencies pointed towards utilizing Twitter for media inquiries. However, through our own experience, media inquiries answered via a public Twitter account can easily get lost in the noise of public comments and questions. A new and improved method was needed and therefore created as the first of its kind.
1. Inform the public in a timely manner
2. Decrease unnecessary staff time
3. Improve media relations
Planning & Implementation
Phase 1: Brainstorm: Staff consensus to create an exclusive outlet for media relations was decided. Twitter was the platform chosen for its popularity with media reporters.
Phase 2: Planning: General responses and HIPPA compliant content was reviewed and finalized for PR staff.
Phase 2: Set up a closed Twitter account for media partners only.
Phase 4: Promote page to media partners via email.
Phase 5: Evaluated the success by monitoring engagement and assessing feedback. The results made it apparent that the strategy was successful and needed to be implemented on a permanent basis.
Phase 6: From 7pm-7am, our dispatch office was responsible for answering media inquiries via phone. The employees were trained in proper Twitter protocol and the private Twitter method was carried over to these hours. The majority of all media inquiries are now answered exclusively through Twitter.
Our goals were reached by measuring an increase of engagement and followers on the closed Twitter account, a decrease in staff time used for media inquiries, an increase in media mentions (TV, print, online) and positive reactions from media partners.
Our Twitter has gone from a 20K average engagement to close to 90K per month to-date. The response time to an inquiry averages 3-5 minutes, which would be impossible to achieve from answering individual emails and phone calls as was done in the past. Feedback from media partners emphasized the benefits of having real-time information along with the value of having exclusive access to information separate from the public sphere.
The Public Relations department at Medic has an established budget for on-call hours; therefore no increase in funds was needed.
Files: Media Reactions.docx