A 17-year-old girl collapses in gym class and dies hours later.
A TV journalist and crew pack up to go cover the story. There is no chit-chat during the drive from Washington to suburban Maryland. Instead, the reporter logs onto Facebook, finds friends of the girl, and makes contact. Soon, the reporter is friends with the friends, who send her quotes and photos that enable a richer, more compelling story.
NBC4’s Angie Goff shared the story with my class this week at American University. Embedded within are some key lessons about how to use social media for business purposes.
1- Think like a handyman: Define the goal, then pick the best tool for the job. Facebook was ideal because it enabled immediate interaction and photo-sharing.
2- Don’t embarrass your mother. This was a sensitive story, and, while deadlines loomed, Goff showed compassion throughout. Whether you’re reporting from the scene or pitching a book, say please and thank-you, even when online.
3- Show yourself. Goff maintained the proper professional detachment on the air. Later, on her blog, she admitted that being a mom makes such stories difficult to hear and “even harder to cover.” Your followers know you’re human; it’s okay, and even beneficial, to show it now and then.
In extending our reach, social media tools have made it easy to forget the power of a handshake, or at least a cyber-shake. Facebook is great; Facebook plus face-to-face is better.
Have you ever forgotten the fundamentals and paid a price?