Finding Winnie

Much has been said on the ‘zombie generation’ and the effect technology is having in particular on the interpersonal skills of the young.

Catherine Caplis - Joint MD

Catherine Caplis25.04.2014

Yet there are many inspiring examples of how social media is used to connect – sometimes on a huge scale – that restores our faith in the strength of human empathy; and my own recent personal experience is a case in point.

This week, whilst on holiday in Cork, my friend’s little boy lost his beloved Winnie the Pooh comforter whilst out and about. Two days later he was still inconsolable and so I thought I would see if Twitter could lend a hand. I Tweeted the three main Cork newspapers and asked for their help and within minutes the Cork Evening Echo re-tweeted my plea.

My first Tweet went out at 10pm…within 12 hours it had been re-tweeted over 70 times, including an Irish TV presenter, a labour counsellor and a number of local Cork businesses. Within 20 minutes the local radio station Cork 96fm had contacted me and offered an interview on the next morning’s breakfast show. I even had links to replacement Winnie’s on EBay Tweeted my way.

So… what have I learnt? Well… that people are kind… that social media can be used for good as well as evil (take that you trolls!) and if you want to improve your Klout score, lose a cuddly toy (joke!) Of course it’s also reiterated something that is actually as close to my heart as Winnie is to the inconsolable two year old – social media as a tool is indeed effective but the key players in this instance were the already established media brands in press and radio.

The reach I required was made possible by @CorkEveningEcho – with a following of 19,000 people and via Cork 96FM’s Facebook page, with 48,000 ‘likes’ – a relevant, critical mass. Both have built up this following by being a valued news and entertainment source over many years and this is something I feel is being more and more under appreciated. We increasingly read about the ‘death of journalism’, with traditional media outlets struggling to develop a profitable business model as audiences shift to digital delivery - and it is easy to be dismissive of print in particular as we all herald an age of ‘two-way communication’.

However, we should never underestimate the crucial role journalism plays in filtering, substantiating and challenging – and somehow we need to maintain a value attached to this… that provides media outlets with the revenue that will enable journalism to survive - in whatever format that might be. Otherwise, in the future will I have to rely on Justin Bieber to pick up my Tweet to get my heartfelt plea heard?

PS: The story has a happy ending – a lovely lady from Ballincollig offered the exact same Winnie and peace was restored.

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