Beyond PR

Dec 10, 2010

PR Newswire China Survey of Social Media Use by Chinese Journalists

Social media is having the same impact on journalists in China that it is having in the rest of the world, changing the way they source stories, expanding and fragmenting the information available to them and raising questions about the future of traditional media.

A recent survey conducted by PR Newswire China, the first of its kind in that country, included 2,503 Chinese journalists who work for print and broadcast media as well as online publications.

Sixty percent of the journalists said they have used social media to obtain news leads or to arrange an interview.  Forty-eight percent indicated that they regularly use microblogs.

According to Ji Yongqing, a well-know Chinese columnist and former chief reporter for CEO&CIO Magazine, “Social media channels have revolutionized the work of journalists.  In the past, journalists were often the first to discover and publish new information, and now, social media has taken over this role.”

“What I use most frequently these days, and what seems to me to be the most game-changing and uniquely valuable of all, are microblogs,” said Liu Jia, senior reporter for China Internet Weekly.

The most frequently cited microblog platform was Sina, which 78% of the surveyed journalists said they use most frequently.  This was well ahead of the nearest competitor, Tencent microblogs which was identified as the most frequently used by 24%.

Over 90% of the journalists surveyed said they believe news leads originating from social media have some value.

While use of social media has grown substantially it still trails some of the traditional methods used by journalists to search for news leads.  Face-to-face or peer communication is used more than any other information gathering method, cited by more than 75% of the respondents.  The other most commonly used tactics for identifying leads were the use of portal or industry Web sites and the use of search engines.

Almost half of the respondents agreed that new media poses a fairly large threat to traditional media.  But a similar number indicated that while new media has a definite influence on traditional media, the two complement each other.

Authored by Ken Dowell, executive vice president, PR Newswire.


Two reports that offer further insight into global social media use were published yesterday, and they offer interesting insight.

Facebook — 2010 Memology: Top Status Trends of the Year: A round-up of top status trends over the year reveals numerous “world moments.”

The Pew Research Center —Global Publics Embrace Social Networking: Reveals that worldwide, people who are using the internet are using it for social networking.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title

Yujie Chen 21:28 EST on Dec 16, 2010

While the results of this survey that our China team conducted seem to conform in many aspects to the trends that we see in many other parts of the world on the adoption of social media by the journalistic communities, they are a couple of major findings here that are quite unique about how Chinese reporters gather news.

The first one is their strong reliance on the personal relationships to generate news leads. In a culture that people place a lot of value on guanxi or personal connections, co-workers, friends and industry professionals that they have worked with in the past command a lot more credibility and trust and therefore still a far more important source of information for people working in the media than any other sources.

The second characteristic is the mechanism of communication. Chinese journalists, amostly in their twenties and thirties, as those over the age of 40 will generally move on to other, more lucrative professions), have developed a strong perference for using instant messengers such as MSN Messenger, QQ, which is the local player that has dominant share in this market, and to a lesser extent cell phone SMS, for most of their daily work-related or personal communications. In fact, many of them would much prefer to conduct an interview through an instant messenger rather than speak on the phone.

What this means for communications communications professionals is quite clear. They either need to build a direct relationship with the journalist or work through a PR/distribution agency that already has a relationship with that individual.

And certainly, social media should not be ignored given the fast-growing penetration and popularity of microblogging and other sites in China. weibo, for example, already boost to have well over 50 million users in the country and that number will probably double in the next six months and many of those users are actually journalists. So microblogging sites are a great venue to follow industry developments and build connections with those journalists that are relevant to you.

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