Beyond PR

Jun 22, 2011

How Journalists & Bloggers Use Social Media, and Opportunities for PR

The next installment in the series: Integrating Social Media & Public Relations aggregates Tweets into a user-friendly electronic newspaper. This is the Social PR Daily.

There’s no question that the social layer has changed how people find, share and consume news and information – and as you’d expect, the practice of journalism is also changing as a result.  Understanding how journalists and bloggers are using various social media tools and platforms is critical when planning a digital PR strategy.

The social layer has become society’s central nervous system, capable of telegraphing information from one point to another – and across a whole network – almost instantly.  Just as nerves and synapses relay information from our fingertips to our brains, the social layer enables us to find – and broadcast information.  We’re also able to quickly find trusted sources of information, current reviews, and like-minded people who share our enthusiasms and concerns.    The highly networked nature of our society and information marketplaces means more visibility opportunities for public relations pros than ever.

How journalists & bloggers are using social media

Breaking News & Trends:   Facebook and Twitter in particular have evolved into major sources of news for millions of people worldwide, and the search engines aren’t far behind – they’re now surfacing relevant social results within seconds and are displaying that information front and center within search results.   Like the rest of us, savvy journalists and bloggers are keeping an eye on the social networks for breaking news and information.    For PR pros, the simple fact is that your company’s news needs to be found on these social networks – and it needs to be relevant and interesting to your audience, so they share it.  Visibility is a key benefit of a solid social media presence for brands.

What was trending on Twitter yesterday, amongst Twitterers based in London.

  •  Trendsmap:   Trendsmap enables you to get a look at what is trending on Twitter from a particular city.  For a reporter or blogger with a local beat, this kind of information is crucial.
  •  Booshaka:   The search function on Booshaka reveals what’s being said publicly on Facebook about specific topics.  You can also see what’s trending on Facebook.

Research:  Social networks offer a plethora of data and information to writer hot on the tail of a story.  From a PR perspective, cultivating credible presences on key networks is a great way to position experts and attract audiences.

Twitter lists:  Active Twitter users create lists of fellow Twitters, often organized around subject matter or expertise, and users can follow each other’s lists.  Following Twitter lists is a great way to stay informed about a particular topic, identify influentials (and get to know their POV), and for newbies, a good way to observe the ebb and flow of conversations.   Obviously, developing a solid following on Twitter and providing value to your audience is a great way to get listed, and to start accruing visibility exponentially.

  • Paper.Li, the Tweeted Times & Flipboard:  A fleet of social content aggregation services are turning Twitter lists, Facebook posts and RSS feeds into up-to-the-minute glossy digital news magazines.   Here’s an example – this is the Social PR Daily, powered by, which aggregates information from leading public relations and social media thinkers.  It’s updated twice daily.

Quora, Linkedin, ProfNet Connect:  Follow a topic on Quora, and chances are good that you’ll soon stumble upon some seriously insightful and revealing commentary.  Quora’s community values and encourages sophisticated insight, and provides a treasure trove of information and potential story angles.  For PR pros, sites like Quora, LinkedIn and ProfNet Connect (a free community of tens of thousands of journalists and experts) that attract experts and facilitate interaction are great places to showcase experts.  And building a credible presence on these networks can provide valuable visibility to people seeking information in your brand’s sector – journalists, influentials and prospective customers alike.

Relationships:   Any seasoned media relations pro will tell you that cultivating working relationships with journalists and bloggers is an important aspect to the job.  Establishing mutual trust and credibility is the foundation for a great working relationship between a journalist and a publicist.

Social networks offer a great way to learn about other people before introducing oneself.  The blog posts a person publishes, their Facebook posts and their Twitter account tell a lot about their interests and expertise.

Building relationships in social networks requires the same grace and tact it does in real life.   A reporter may be active on Twitter, but that’s not an open invitation for you to @mention that person with an unsolicited pitch.   To lay the groundwork for a relationship, first identify yourself as someone who’s interested.  Comment on the author’s blog posts.  Tweet their articles. And when the time is right, offer perspective or expertise that is in line with what the journalist writes.

Content publishing & personal visibility:  For several years, PR Newswire and PR Week together produced a survey of journalists, and we learned that the majority of journalists are either blogging for their own purposes (professional or otherwise) and many are required to produce content for online properties and social channels.   Content fuels social presences – it’s the currency of Twitter, and news sharing on Facebook is undoubtedly driving traffic to sites.  Journalists and bloggers are using these channels to both build audience for their content and publications, and to drive readership for the content they produce and publish.

So what’s the opportunity for a PR pro?   Something as simple as a tweet from an influential journalist or blogger can pay real dividends in terms of message visibility, both in social networks and search engines. Creating content that begs to be shared capitalizes on active social media users’ need for content.   Writing headlines and subheads that can be easily tweeted, providing infographics and other sharable multimedia and always providing URLs that can be tweeted/liked/shared are important tactics that should be embedded in your PR department’s habits.

Related reading:  Twitter, Traditional Media & SEO: the Power Triangle for PR

As we think about how journalists and bloggers are using social media, and the opportunity these interactions afford PR pros, it’s also important to note that while this to realize that other constituents use the same tools and platforms.  Communications in the social layer are very, very public – something which should work in a communicator’s favor.  As is always the case in social networks, spending some time listening and learning about your desired audience’s interests and social style is always recommended.

More related reading:

15 Free Ways Journalists Use Social Media Tools to Track Topics

Media Relations, Meet Twitter

Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik) is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

3 Comments on Blog Post Title

nchacko 13:21 EDT on Jun 24, 2011

The social layer has become society’s central nervous system, capable of telegraphing information from one point to another – and across a whole network – almost instantly……

My sense is that the social layer is serving as a crude proxy for human interaction, relationships, likes/dislikes, preferences, intent, opinion, influence etc. Not sure one can clearly see how this will in any way mimic the rich stew that defines that complex interaction, but that seems to be the direction we are headed in. The challenge will be in how these complex filters (relationships and say intent) combine to drive more meaningful signals.

Macmachi 03:40 EDT on Jun 30, 2011

Wonderful Article. Thank you !

jackbarganza 08:13 EDT on Aug 5, 2011

This is absolutely true and even in my case it happened exactly the same way. Public relations have become a competitive platform due to the presence of social media. Your way of explaining the useful information in the video about how journalists and bloggers use social media for surfacing breaking news and audience interest information is excellent. Take a look to this and you will get something for you too!

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