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David Griner – Social Editor, Adweek

If it didn’t happen online then it didn’t happen at all. This axiom might sound far-fetched, but for the millions who now choose to Like, Follow, and Pin, instead of subscribing to traditional information dissemination mediums, it makes perfect sense. It’s with this in mind that back in February 2014Adweek  added to its social media manpower by hiring on longtime contributor David Griner as the new social editor.

After several years as a contributor and collaborator with the editorial staff at Adweek, Griner is no stranger to the ins and outs of the brand’s mission, and he is now excited to take on a larger amount of responsibility, or as he calls it, having more “skin in the game.”

“I’ve been a contributor to Adweek for seven years, and in that time we’ve had some massive success in social [media]. I’ve been involved along the way, but it’s great to finally be on board full time and focused on finding new and interesting ways to connect with our readers and industry.”

A veteran journalist and public speaker, Griner was also named one of Birmingham’s Top 40 Under 40 by Birmingham Business Journal for 2014. The journal writes, “Griner, 36, is a walking talking Wikipedia with a deft understanding of how companies can use modern technology to connect with their audience.”

Griner’s first great mentor, Rich Somerville, taught him about social engagement on a digital level in the early days of the Internet. The two worked together at The Union daily newspaper in Northern California experimenting with new and innovative ways to connect with readers online; it was there that the spark of excitement around what would evolve into social media was lit for him.

As the first social editor in Adweek’s history, Griner is responsible for running all of the social channels connected with the site, co-editing the Adfreak blog, and additionally covering digitally-centric issues in his field of digital innovation, successful social media tactics, and marketing trends as they arise. Griner’s position was born out of necessity, and he has hit the ground running with a number of projects in a short time.

He is very excited about the potential for growth of Adweek’s following across all of its social channels including FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and is focused on finding new ways of interacting with the Adweek audience online. By creating new, ongoing social initiatives and launching new social media programs connected with the magazine, Griner is expanding the P2P (person-to-person) reach that drives content to new readers.

“Social is our primary traffic source, so it makes sense that it deserves its own personnel,” he said. “Doing social the way we really want to requires a lot of time, data analysis, experimentation and nitpicking. The results can be huge in terms of readership growth, since many people in our industries learn about Adweek through our articles being shared by their friends and colleagues.”

Griner views the overall mission of Adweek is “to be the leading source for news, insight and community for marketers, media and agencies.” Because the growth of readership and the reach of Adweek’s content are directly dependent on its social channels, it falls on Griner to ensure that great content reaches the influencers who drive traction to new audiences.

“We have some of the nation’s top business journalists on staff, but even the best content needs to be pushed out into a place where readers can find it. My job is to help serve up this top-quality content in the places and formats that our readers prefer, which means as their habits adapt, we’ll need to adapt, too.”

Even great stories get lost in the clutter of the social sphere. Griner understands a good story not only engages the reader, it also sparks conversation. These conversations used to take place around the table or at the water cooler, but increasingly these conversations are being conducted through digital platforms where shareability is the currency that measures a story’s success.

“We used to call that the ‘Hey, Martha!’ hook in newspapers, where you were trying to get couples chatting at the breakfast table,” he said. “But these days it comes to life on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, where shareability is vital. A good story challenges perspectives, pushes boundaries and makes people think about something in a new light.”

As journalists explore new modes of transportation to deliver content to audiences, those willing to experiment and quantify results are those who will remain in the driver’s seat, no matter what they are driving.

Pitching Tips

The best pitches position journalists to hit the ground running with a story, and don’t require a lot of back and forth to keep it going:

“Easy access to high-res art and HD video is key. I always find it odd when someone pitches me something but doesn’t include the stuff I’d need to write about it. Don’t make a journalist have to write you back to get materials. It just slows things down and risks killing the piece,” he said.

The best advice Griner offers to PR professionals interested in forging a solid relationship with a journalist is patience.

“Honestly, if more PR pros were realistic about what they were pitching and patient about building long-term relationships, they’d be fine.”

Lastly, when reaching out to a journalist, be prepared for a reply with the proper materials and information to keep the conversation moving and not end up dead in the water.

“They often want another 24-48 hours to get me information that I think is pretty basic. It leaves me thinking they weren’t really prepared for the obvious follow-ups that journalists would have, and it’s bafflingly frustrating.”

About Neal Gregus

Neal T. Gregus is a Features Writer for Cision Blog. He is also a research aficionado focusing on print media in Cision’s Research division. He is hopelessly addicted to live music and can be found front row anywhere in Chicago. Or find him on Twitter at @NealGregus.

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