The power of #iphonereporting isn’t limited to journalists — public safety and other agency spokespeople can harness the iPhone to get their message out more clearly and quickly.
While PIOs are embracing Twitter and Facebook to quickly disseminate information on breaking news, they’re missing an opportunity to provide good-quality audio that can be aired by radio and TV stations and online news organizations.
Historically, after putting out a tweet on a breaking news situation, PIOs are inundated with calls from news organizations seeking a phone or in-person interview, and asking when a news conference will be held.
The result is poor-sounding audio, and a PIO who’s answering the same questions a dozen times.
Here’s my solution that will make reporters happy, and allow you to gather information and organize a news conference: tweet great-sounding audio using the free SoundCloud app.
SoundCloud is a free service that’s like YouTube for audio.
With the free SoundCloud iPhone (or Android) app, a PIO can record several minutes of near-studio-quality audio into the built-in microphone of the mobile device, and quickly upload it to SoundCloud.
The URL from the uploaded file can be easily tweeted, emailed, posted on Facebook, and embedded on your agency’s website.
Anyone who clicks on the hyperlink will hear excellent-quality audio.
In newsrooms, reporters and producers can record the audio on their desktop computers.
Radio stations will get the audio on-air quickly. Television stations will have good audio to run over images provided by their cameramen or the public.
Forward-thinking PIOs ‘get it.’
Pete Piringer, Director of Communications for the city of Laurel, Md., and former spokesperson for local fire departments embraces the idea.
“One component that’s often missing as we get the information out is the audio part — good, quality audio,” says Piringer. “It will make things more efficient and improve our use of time if we’re out on a scene.”
Tweeting audio is an improvement over a tried-and-true, but now outdated method of communicating with reporters, says Alan Etter, former spokesperson for DC’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
“We used to maintain a tape line,” says Etter.
But a recorded tape line has two problems — the sound is phone-quality, and the reporter has to call it repeatedly to check for updates.
“Now with each tweet you’ll get studio-quality audio in a way that’s easy for the PIO and the reporter,” says Etter. “I hope it catches on.”
Julie Parker, a former reporter who is now the Media Relations Director with the Prince George’s County, Md. Police Department appreciates being able to provide air-quality audio “while a lack of time or resources might have otherwise prevented.”
“It’s a win for the media outlet, a win for the department, and ultimately a win for the community,” says Parker.
Step right up, PIOs — glad to answer any questions.