It’s no secret that the tweet, the Facebook status and the Instagram pic have transformed journalism. And yet despite the diversity of reasons why journalists use social media today, their communication with PR pros remains universally consistent. Cision and Canterbury Christ Church University’s Social Journalism 2017 Study reported that three quarters of journalists use social media daily, with 62% of these also interacting with audiences, and growing yearly. As a result, journalist interactions with both readers and other media have never been more prominent.
When using social media, journalists appear to be adopting particular roles depending on the information they believe it can provide. In a Gorkana and Cision webinar, Philip Smith, head of content marketing and comms at Cision EMEA stated that there are six groups of journalists within the spectrum of journalist-social media relations:
- The Architects, categorising 8% of reports respondents. These are the most proactive trailblazers in social media, and the largest group in broadcast journalism. And while they monitor discussions, connect with new contacts and share content, 42% claim that social media has hindered objective news.
- The Hunters, who are the largest journalist group on social media, comprising 32% of report respondents. Using Facebook and Twitter extensively, they often repost content from the latter.
- The Promoters, who spend three to four hours per day on social media, time which tends to be spent replying to other commenters and monitoring content in the process.
- The Observers, who comprise 21% of social media-wielding journalists. Using all aspects of social media in their day-today work, they will publish and monitor their own content before engaging with readers and other media.
- The Skeptics, with the same percentage as the Architects at 8%. These journalists are the most cynical towards social media, regarding it as undermining traditional journalistic values. Interestingly enough, 18% of Skeptics prefer to learn of news through face-to-face interactions.
- The Messengers, consisting of 14% of respondents. This group has the highest number of journalists using social media to gain information from content communities (78%). As a result, they see select benefits, but little else.
While journalistic perceptions of social media’s usefulness is divided, perhaps the more pressing question we need to ask is how much of an impact these uses are having on journalist-PR relations.
Only a third of the report’s respondents said they consider social media productive. Reliance on it has dropped since 2014, where 50% of journalists said they couldn’t do their job without it. But the result of one of 2016’s most significant events may contradict this. Becky Lucas, GQ’s insight and strategy editor argued in a recent webinar that following the campaign of Donald Trump, Twitter traffic has grown as a news source.
Ultimately, PR representatives and industry insiders remain the most useful sources to journalists. 54% of journalists now perceive PR pros to be the most important news source, while 46% perceive industry insiders as more valuable. On top of this, journalists said that social media has no impact on their relationship with PR pro’s. Email remains the most preferred method of contact. Although, despite the seeming continuation of preferences that journalists have towards PR pitches, journalists remain open to receiving stories through social media, as long as the pitch is as concise. Furthermore, in sectors such as fashion and lifestyle journalism, platforms like Snapchat are starting to become viable communication channels. The big question is, will we soon see this in tech journalism too?