An online community is a group of people who share a common sense of purpose. As in off-line communities, members can openly exchange information, ideas, concerns and questions. Online communities can take many different forms and address a wide variety of interests. In fact, many local cities and towns have developed their own community pages. Journalists from all media outlets often monitor newsgroups, message boards, chat rooms and discussion forums in an effort to learn about trends, explore story ideas or uncover news tips. Participating in online communities offers an opportunity to contribute information that may attract the attention of journalists and to distinguish you as a knowledgeable, balanced source of information about public transportation.
Media Tip: Keep an Eye on Online Communities
If you find an online community where you see periodic comments about public transportation issues, keep tabs on what’s being discussed. These forums can be a great way to discover concerns, emerging issues and rumors.
Become thoroughly familiar with these communities. They should be viewed primarily as sources of information, not participatory opportunities. Your participation, if any, should be extremely limited. If you respond to a post, remember that you are doing so on behalf of your coalition. It’s never a good idea to respond in anger or irritation; this can have the unintended effect of lending legitimacy to an otherwise irrational argument or point of view.
Many editors or webmasters of these city- or subject-specific sites are eager to provide fresh and interesting content for their visitors. They will frequently post information free of charge, including links to useful sites. Because these sites are sometimes maintained by volunteers or part-time webmasters, it is a good idea to provide as much lead timelead-time as possible on time-sensitive information. In return, the sites will often post information about your coalition indefinitely. Get to know the editors or webmasters of these local sites, because they may welcome the opportunity to receive a steady stream of updated information from you.
Internet broadcast outlets:
Like other online outlets, audio and video broadcast outlets offer several benefits. The audience is computer-literate; the reach is worldwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and unlike traditional broadcast media, an interested listener or viewer can immediately search for additional information about your coalition and the PT² campaign. It’s important to recognize, however, that such outlets may have limitations on the amount of original content they offer. Also, content from one site can turn up on others. If an interview becomes potentially embarrassing, however unintentionally, it can end up having an unfortunately long life on the Web. [not sure why this warning is here but not for e-zines, etc.]