Journalists Increasingly Source News on Social Media Platforms
Sometimes reporters ask to be pitched, and increasingly, that request is coming in at 140 characters or less. Communications firm Brunswick, not shy with great research over the years, has provided some telling social media numbers in the Summer issue of the Brunswick Review, pointing toward an increasing use of Twitter and other social media services to source business stories, with the door wide open for further and further adoption of these platforms. It’s an important reminder that “old” media, too, has jumped on the bandwagon, and that PR pros should definitely be integrating traditional coverage with their social strategies, not just supplanting it with them.
One of the opening stats authors of the study Jennifer MacDonald and Andrew Gunn cite is that 90% of the 1000 business journalists they polled claimed to have taken information from a social media site, with a ratio, in the end, of about “one in seven of all business articles written today [being] generated by something a reporter first spots on social media.” While somewhat weakened by broad parameters, the figures still show that these journalists are on these sites in a professional way, and with new features like the recently launched journalists portal on Facebook, it seems they are well past adoption and into a phase of deepening use.
Services like Twitter are a touch ahead of other types of networks as a place to go for source leads, and the reasons there seem relatively obvious. The open nature of Twitter and, importantly, its search functionality, make it a great way to get a real-time cross-section of basically any keyword a user is looking for. This, of course, makes it especially good for breaking news, so any PR pro would do well to have their searches saved and available essentially all day long (in addition, of course, to following every reporter and editor you can that covers your sector). At Cision, we (and by we, I mean mostly Yvette) do just this, with a search feed open querying Twitter hits not only of our brand but those of our partners and competitors and general keywords germane to our industry.
We consider this brand and industry monitoring, but in tandem we are sure to catch any journalists’ call for a story source. If you want to get especially sophisticated, you could rotate your search queries according to whatever products, services, events or projects you are hoping to promote. Let’s take a local business scenario as example: let’s say you are restaurant (or represent one) that is sponsoring a picnic along with a local art gallery. As soon as you know of this, get that gallery and any related keywords (#chicagoart, #artevents, #picnic, etc.) into your search feeds. You never know who might be writing a story on this, and you would never have caught it if you were only looking within your industry.
The larger point, however, is not these new monitoring tools and methods, but the fact that reporters and editors are receptive on these platforms. They are coming to you, in a kind of way. The best statistic from the Brunswick study, in my opinion, is the fact that 37% of journalists feel social media has a positive impact on the quality of their stories, as opposed to 8% feeling it has a negative one (57% neutral, 8%undecided). That’s not bombastic optimism for the value of social media, but it is very real optimism, optimism that, it seems to me, can be trusted.
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