Contact: David Burton, civic communication specialist
County Program Director - Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Based on local research, the Southwest Region News Service has been generating media coverage valued at more than $2 million annually for University of Missouri Extension since 2007.
“It takes a variety of tools to generate that much media coverage and to have over 75 million readers annually,” said David Burton, civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Southwest Region News Service is a program of MU Extension’s community development program. It is also a team effort that involves many extension specialists in southwest Missouri.
“The goal is to connect Missourian’s with local extension resources. But in the process of doing that, members of the public learn valuable information,” said Burton. “Our annual survey of readers demonstrates that this communication effort spreads the MU Extension message and impacts people’s lives with new research.”
A poll conducted in 2013 found 96 percent of subscribers to the emailed news service increased their awareness of MU Extension programs. Over 82 percent said the news service provided information that caused them to do something differently, and 70 percent were able to give examples of how those changes impacted them or their family.
Southwest Region News Service has two audiences with the primary one being the news media in southwest Missouri.
“Everything in the news service is done with this target audience in mind,” said Burton. “When local journalists receive and use our content, our readership increases beyond our email blasts.”
Members of the public who subscribe to receive this information by e-mail are the secondary audience according to Burton. As of November 2013, over 9,300 members of the public receive this news service by email along with nearly 600 journalists.
Based on a 2013 demographic study of the email audience for the news service this is what is known: Missouri residents comprise 92 percent of the readership; one percent are international readers; seven percent are in neighboring states with Kansas leading the way followed by Arkansas and then Oklahoma.
The percentage of total individual readers from each county are as follows: Greene, 42.5, Christian, 15; Taney 5.8; Lawrence, 5.5; Webster, 4.6; Stone, 4.4; Jasper, 4.2; Newton, 4; Polk, 2.6; Dallas, 2.3; Dade, 2.2; McDonald, 2; Barton, 2; Cedar 1.5; and Barry, 1.4.
VALUE OF SERVICE
The Southwest Region News Service operates out of the Greene County Extension center and uses a variety of techniques and tools to reach about 300,000 southwest Missouri residents every week with research-based MU Extension information.
Some of the tools used include an e-mailed weekly news service which reaches nearly 9,000 individuals a week. The use of social media like Facebook, a blog and YouTube reach an additional 10,000-plus people per week. Three weekly columns in urban newspapers reach an audience of over 150,000 each week.
Regular interviews of MU Extension specialists on Springfield and Joplin television and radio stations expand the weekly audience further (with an estimated 40,000 households reached). In addition, over 120,000 people each week read printed versions of the media releases sent out via the weekly Southwest Region News Service in a variety of print publications in southwest Missouri and beyond.
“We don’t place a dollar value on the social media and online contacts, but we have documented that the annual value of the print and television media exceeds $2 million a year,” said Burton. “When you consider the fact that back in 1998, the media coverage had an annual value of $40,000 a year you can see that this team effort has really grown and has helped communicate to the public the various programs offered by MU Extension.”
Southwest Region News Service provides weekly educational news from MU Extension in southwest Missouri. Individuals and extension council members can subscribe to the news service online at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene/news.aspx. Readers are also able to unsubscribe themselves from the email service.
Social media options for accessing extension information specific to southwest Missouri include www.youtube.com/MUExtension417 and https://www.facebook.com/MUExtension417.