Dec 20, 2011 / by jay.krall

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Journalists and bloggers have been talking with brands and professional communicators on social sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for several years now. Yet, the public relations community has struggled a bit with the terminology around the outreach we do on these sites. The social media release. The twitpitch. The biztweet?

It’s just the start of a conversation.

One thing that struck me about the results of our journalists and blogger survey, conducted jointly between Cision and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is that terminology matters when we’re talking about using online tools to build relationships.

For example, look at the results of this question. Sure seems to indicate that lots of journalists and influencers are having discussions with PR pros on these sites, doesn’t it? And we know that to be true.

Which social media sites do you use to interact with PR professionals?

But watch what happens when the term “press release” gets thrown into the mix:

How do you prefer to field press releases?

The message here is, “if you’re going to send me a press release, do it by email”. Which should not be misunderstood to mean “Please send me press releases by email instead of contacting me on social sites.”

I’ve posted links to these studies here before, but they’re worth repeating: Gartner tells us that 20 percent of business communication will move out of the realm of email and onto Web-based social tools by 2014. It’s been more than two years since Nielsen first reported that people are spending more time on social sites than combing through their email inboxes [PDF]. The perception that “real business” only gets done by email threatens to leave some PR practitioners behind. As we change the format in which we reach out to influencers, the terms we use to describe our efforts need to evolve too. Let’s start with this: we’re having a conversation.


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