Missouri Station Uses Social Media to Produce Show

By Kevin Eck 

Columbia, Mo., NBC affiliate KOMU says it’s using social media to help produce its public affairs show.

Four times over seven months, the station inserted a public affairs show called Town Square into its Noon newscast by shortening the news and weather segments without altering program logs or commercial schedules. The content was made up of topics farmed through a social media campaign that began a few months before the shows aired.

“We’ve learned to really embrace the use of social media, not just as a place where you put your story when it’s done but the place where your story can start,” Annie Hammock, interactive director at KOMU told RJI Online.

KOMU viewers were directed to the station website to complete a survey about the topic of the show. The answers helped shape the show. “The story changed as we got responses,” said supervising producer Jemmie Nevalga. “As we began sifting through comments, we said, ‘Oh, we haven’t talked about this angle before.’”

Kellie Stanfield, a Ph.D. at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wrote a “how to.” She said they “generated the strongest social media numbers our station has ever seen.”

This is what we did at KOMU-TV:

We won (easily) station management approval to reformat the noon news, truncating news and weather, maintaining the commercial schedule and devoting 20 minutes of the half hour to a public affairs topic.
We created social media “buzz” — beginning two months prior to air — about the topic. We did this by asking smart, well-worded, provocative questions of our viewers. We promoted this buzz during newscasts, creating a bit of excitement that something interesting was coming soon.
We harvested high-quality comments and sources from the social media buzz.
Due to these efforts, we created humanized stories and longer, in-depth interviews.
We cross-promoted online and on-air to the max.