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Be careful who you tweet: The story behind a Portland newsroom’s viral response

Josh Linehan is social editor at The Portland Press Herald

When Portland Press Herald social media editor Josh Linehan saw yet another tweet confusing Portland, Oregon with Portland, Maine he saw an opportunity for the Press Herald’s Twitter account. 

The question: “Can you help me understand the Portland riots. Why haven’t you stopped the violence?” 

Linehan stated the obvious: “Well, we’re a newspaper in Maine is the main reason.” This simple response has been retweeted about 9,000 times and liked more than 70,000 times.

The Journalism Institute emailed Linehan for the story behind the viral reply and his top tips for managing a local news social media account.

You mention on Twitter that the Portland Press Herald receives daily messages about the other Portland. How do you decide which ones to address publicly? And what are the various ways you reply?

Linehan: We actually have a long, long history with this issue in various forms on Twitter. A few years ago we got swept up into the MLS soccer rivalry between Portland and Seattle when the Seattle team filmed a commercial here but we declared our allegiance to #OnePortland.

In general, though, we will just point them to the Oregonian for any genuine inquiries. Every once in a great while we’ll play it for a laugh.

Can you describe the response to the tweet today about the Portland, OR protests?

Linehan: Overwhelming. I was honestly just going for a little behind the scenes chuckle for our Twitter regulars, but it struck a nerve.

What are your top three tips for managing a successful local news social media account?

Linehan: Be honest, be genuine, have fun when you can.

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