The Effects of Social Media on Journalism

21 Aug The Effects of Social Media on Journalism

Cision’s 2015 Global Social Journalism Study was released recently and after looking through the results several times, specifically the U.S. results, they seem to tell a story of how journalism has changed and is continuing to change, due to online content, new publishing cycles, and social media itself.

  • About half of respondents (journalists) in each country think they need social media to do their work and that social media has lightened their workload.
  • Reasons for using social media among journalists (U.S. only) include: 1. Publishing and promoting their own content 2. Monitoring 3. Sourcing/networking.
  • Only between a quarter to just over a third of journalists felt they were less reliant on PR professionals because of social media.
  • Email continues to dominate how journalists prefer to be contacted, but social media is gathering pace.

To me, from a PR perspective these results are really telling of the pressure journalists are under to not only create an increasing amount of content to keep up with new publishing cycles, but also the pressure of being responsible for the number of views each article garners. I imagine this is why the majority responded that they think they need social media to “do their work” but they are still very dependent on PR networks. It’s less about mining for sources and more about promoting content, monitoring feedback, and interacting with readers – ultimately with the goal of increasing page views.

While it’s always been a general rule of mine not to pitch reporters over social media (unless they specify that they appreciate it) it’s actually becoming an increasingly common form of communication for contacting journalists – especially in the United States. Of the respondents in the U.S. 84 percent prefer to be contacted by email, 33 percent prefer social media, and 15 percent prefer telephone. Sweden is the only other country where surveyed journalists denote social media as the second form of preferred contact.

So, the takeaways for us here in flack-land: If you’re active on social media, especially Twitter, follow your key reporters and help them promote their articles (not just the ones your clients are in). They will appreciate the additional eyeballs and it will help build your relationship with them. Additionally, connect and comment on articles where you can, and offer sources where applicable since reporters see social media as a great research tool and an increasingly valid form of communication – but a follow up email offering a source can’t hurt.

Ali Robinson
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