(Originally posted Sept. 3, 2010)
Repeated here is a very slightly edited note Alex Marcelewski of Media General’s Digital Media distributed after MG’s first-ever multi-property, multi-state online chat, which was about Hurricane Earl. Excellent all the way around:
On Wednesday night from 7:30pm – 8:30pm a multi-property & multi-state interactive chat session was held by Media General for our East Coast properties on Hurricane Earl. This was the first time an event such as this took place where more than one Media General location and its community were involved. Overall it was a great success from both a public service and community interaction standpoint.
At one point in the evening we had over 100 participants in there at one specific time along expert representatives from WNCT, WNCN, WCBD, WBTW, and WSLS both in the weather centers and in the field at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The chat room was offered and utilized by several MG properties within their own websites (WNCT, WNCN, RTD, WBTW, WCBD, WSLS, and WSAV). Each of these properties highly promoted the event both on-air and online; which helped drive participants to it.
Our viewers/readers/users were able to ask specific questions on Hurricane Earl which in turn were funneled to the appropriate location and MG expert. Many of the users commented on their appreciation of having a venue to pose their concerns and questions too. Interactive chat sessions have been and are being used by various MG properties for different things and each time we see the benefit of it and the service we provide to our communities.
Users were asked via a built-in poll where they were from:
50% – Eastern North Carolina (WNCT area)
18% – Central North Carolina (WNCN area)
18% – Lowcountry Region of South Carolina (Charleston/Georgetown DMA – WCBD)
7% – Central and Coastal Virginia (RTD & WSLS areas)
4% – Grand Strand Region of South Carolina (Myrtle Beach – WBTW/FMN area)
4% – Savannah Georgia (WSAV area)
The following MG Staff who participated as experts were identified via their Photos to set them apart from the public:
David Sawyer (WNCT) – served as overall moderator
Wes Hohenstein, WNCN
Rob Fowler, WCBD
Frank Johnson, WBTW
Scott Leamon, WSLS (on location in Atlantic Beach) via his MG Blackberry
Holly Bounds & Megan Kramer, WSAV
Josh Marthers, WCBD
George Crocker (WNCT) & Jason Clough (WNCN) championed & coordinated the overall project as well as each MG property took turns to help moderate the comments from the public (no comment was posted till approved) – this was a hard task with all the comments that were lining up in the queue but they did real well.
“This coordinated chat session further demonstrated the teamwork philosophy of Media General. It was a privilege to work with the team of meteorologists and reporters who further confirmed the like mindedness of forecast tracks; which gave me confidence it my forecast presentation to the viewers of Eastern North Carolina” – David Sawyer, WNCT Chief Meteorologist
“When we are on TV it is a one way street; but in the chat room it became a two-way street with the viewer which is a valuable interaction to have.” – Wes Hohenstein, WNCN Chief Meteorologistlocal