This success story is also available in Italian.
The Tiber river is Italy’s third longest river, flowing south from the Apennine Mountains for 406 kilometers through Rome and out into the sea. Crossed by this meandering river is Umbria’s capital city of Perugia. Since ancient Roman times, this city and nearby farmlands have been prone to major flooding.
But in April 2014, severe rains, seasonal spring melts, and lack of river upkeep caused the Tiber river’s annual flood to devastate the entire central region with dangerously high water levels. For four days, the hundreds of thousands of residents and farmers in central Italy’s Umbria region were displaced and required immediate national emergency assistance.
While much of Italy’s older generation turn to more traditional media sources such as TV and radio for emergency updates, social media is on the rise, with younger generations searching their smartphones for real-time news and information online. Recognizing this growing demand, Radio Perusia, the first web radio run by the National Civil Protection, began disseminating emergency updates from multiple sources across their social channels.
To source and monitor any related news updates, share them in an organized and timely manner, and connect with influential journalists who may run their stories nationally, Radio Perusia turned to Hootsuite.
The state of social media for emergencies in Italy
Although most European national radio stations tend to be present on social media, the same cannot be said for local or niche stations. So when we discovered that Radio Perusia was not only actively engaging on social media, but also highly organized and using Hootsuite, we needed to hear more.
“The problem in Italy is that information is not very well organized and distributed uniformly,” says Fortarrigo Piccolomini, who’s been a volunteer with Civil Protection for eight years and co-manages Radio Perusia. This lack of communication not only makes it difficult for radio stations like theirs to disseminate information, but also makes it difficult for civilians to get information in an emergency. “With Hootsuite, we can collect information for all listeners and distribute it clearly and quickly.”
Using Hootsuite to distribute emergency information
Radio Perusia set up multiple keyword Search Streams in Hootsuite to monitor Twitter handles of public bodies such as police, council, firemen, emergency response teams, local and national newspapers, television networks, and the regional hashtag #AllertaMeteoMAR simultaneously. Through monitoring and listening, they used social media to aggregate the most relevant news and redistribute it to their listeners. Over the course of the four days, Radio Perusia shared 116 Tweets, many of which contributed to the nearly 10,000 retweets of local emergency information.
Through Hootsuite, they were able to find and connect directly with the Director of Communication at the Council of Senigallia and the Managing Editor of RAI Marche public Italian TV, both of whom called in to the radio to share their insights and news of the emergency, live. “Hootsuite not only helps us source important updates for our radio station news, but also allows us to collect information from many sources and share out the most important over one, trusted location,” says Piccolomini.
Using Hootsuite’s Klout filter, Radio Perusia sources influential journalists and news broadcasters to spread the news and encourage support from national media and the general public.
How social media helped during Italy’s 2014 flood
For those who turned to social media during the emergency, they were able to access up-to-date, organized information on Radio Perusia’s social channels. Instead of going to multiple media sources like TV, radio, and newspapers, civilians could understand the bigger picture all in one place.
Thanks to their strong social media efforts, the radio station played a key role in keeping civilians safe, calm, and well informed. Since the flood, Radio Perusia has participated in multiple national and regional interviews and are now considered a highly reliable source of news in an emergency.