Community management in journalism and beyond…

Following my rant about one local newspaper and its apparent failure to engage with its community I thought it rather hypocritical (I am prone to hypocrisy) to criticise those reporters for having no ideas and not offering a solution of my own.

So here it is.

A community manager. Bet you saw that one coming. But I am being deadly serious and what I mean by this is a very physical, in-the-flesh community manager an actual person who interacts and engages with the local community, not to moderate comments or tweet links but to actually ask the local people (if you’ll excuse the League of Gentleman reference) what they think and what they want.

The newspaper I was at sent a reporter out every day to do vox-pops but why not have a community manager who goes to newsagents, cafes, shopping centres and interacts with local people, gives out contact details, website information and asks their readers (or former readers as is often the case) what the paper can do to improve.

They could ask the community what issues they want written about and then provide contact details for the appropriate reporter. Betty who has lived in the area all her life wants to hear more from the council then she gets the card of the local political reporter. Mike wants more about the local amateur cricket league; he gets the number and email address for the sports editor.

Yes it’s more work and yes it would be a laborious task but I am sure few would argue that the benefits of face-to-face interaction are endless. Not only would you gain so much in terms of information and ideas you would also show the locals who perhaps forgotten about their local rag that you still cared.

At risk of sounding like an old advert, it really is good to talk.

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