CBS4 News is not new to using social media. The station has been at it for well over a year. (Hey it’s longer than some, shorter than others, but more aggressive than other local media outlets.) I think though that I’m the only one who uses the actual term “news collaboration.”

Collaboration is exactly what we've been doing. From the surgery shared live through Twitter to the Join the Conversation campaign to the Interactive HelpCenter we’re collaborating with the public in our news coverage. However, all this has been done live at the moments news is happening, or reactionary after it’s begun.

Yesterday this changed. We invited Dr. Robert Forto to watch a story the day before it airs. We asked him to take the story to his social networks, website, and/or blog in any way he felt appropriate. We did not ask for any editorial control in any way he chose to handle this.

I specifically asked Robert to do this because of his expertise and background with dogs as the story deals with the increasing health issue of dementia in pets, specifically dogs. I believed that by responding to the story he would become a supplemental resource to it. I was thrilled when he accepted the invitation.

I admit fully television news is not the “be all, end all” of news. We cover what we can. We tell stories we believe are important to the community and share information the viewer can use in his or her daily life. We can’t, however, provide all resources for the stories and often they die within days of airing and being published on the website.

We can only generate so much conversation, even when we utilize social media. We can reach only so many people. We can achieve this though through collaboration with others that can reach a specific target audience, or wider general audience through social media.

We can accept that we don't have the resources on our own to do this. We can be willing to share stories ahead of time and take the chance the competition may find out about it and try to also do the story. We can let go of complete control.
When we do this I believe we will achieve short term and long term goals.

Short Term Goals:

Provide more. We can provide the extra resources and other experts who can actually help those who want it. Often I take calls from viewers who want more information or know what to do next. My answers are limited to what the story has included, which most of the time is sound from people who don't want to be contacted by the public. Website links are usually the only resources I can offer.

Offer differing editorial voices. Yes, I would hope every person we ask to collaborate with us would think our stories as good, but that's not always going to happen. Whether it's an outright opposite and negative opinion, or one that varies slightly, we're providing a different editorial voice and admitting that voice exists.

Gather conversation and momentum. Instead of waiting until after the story airs to ask for opinions and responses, we can start the conversation early. This should lead to interest in the actual story, regardless if people agree with it or not. Perhaps enough chatter and momentum about the story will actually lead someone or many to watch the news to see it. Turning on the TV news is still the ultimate goal as it is still the business model. You watching the news pays my salary. I appreciate that, and so does my family. Thank you.

Reach larger audience. As I said we can reach a target audience, or a wider general audience we wouldn't normally reach because some, or many, never turn on news, or at least the local news. Beyond people preferring other information sources, people are just busy. They never see a TV news promotion to see what great story will be in an upcoming newscast. However, many people are always connected through their mobile devices. We can get their attention and let them know what we're doing through their checking in on their networks through their cell phones.

Long Term Goals:

Connect our brand, ourselves, with many. Through continual efforts, interactions and collaborations we can connect with an audience that never knew us. We can reconnect with those who turned away from TV news in general or from us specifically.

Create trust. Through consistency and transparency in our efforts we can create trust with those that are disenfranchised with media, with us.

Make money. In the end news is a business. I think many journalists forget this. We're here to report the news. We rarely ever do anything with the sales or marketing department, or if we do it's so sneakily disguised we don't realize the money behind it. The money is left up to management, right? I for one thought this way until I dove into social media and started learning about marketing and business strategies. Using social media for news collaboration is a business plan. We want people to turn to our products, right now that's first the newscast and second the website. When we can connect with and create trust with people they will choose to turn to us first instead of the competition. They might not turn to us right now, but eventually they will.

Just like any developing relationship, time, work and effort is needed to cultivate the relationship. I believe news collaborations are part of this cultivation.