Social media has forever altered the way in which people communicate, says Gini Dietrich in her Vocus webinar, State of the Media Report 2014. People no longer wait for traditional outlets to deliver news; they find it themselves. They then visit traditional news sources to confirm the news is true.
Traditional outlets have noticed the trend and are implementing digital. Many reporters use social media in much the same way that some people use police scanners: they skim social news feeds to find stories and sources. In addition, they use social media to engage with readers and to promote their work.
Here are three ways reporters have started adopting social media:
Journalists use social media to monitor their competition and newsworthy events on a local, national and global scale. When they monitor competition, they do aim, according to Gini, to “scoop” stories. Their main priority, however, is to find interesting topics, story angles and sources.
Journalists also use social media to engage with their readers. They don’t have to wait for op eds to know what their readers think; their readers let them know directly (sometimes vehemently) on channels like Twitter. Those interactions benefit reporters. They may hear points of contention, but they may just receive new information that builds upon the published story or leads to the writing of a new one.
Many journalists receive compensation for increased page views, so they are deeply invested in promoting their work. Not only that, they want sources who can help with promotion. The end result isn’t merely monetary compensation; promoting the work provides journalists with more readers, potential sources and new story topics.
By doing the following, PR professionals can use those three elements to increase their chances of having a pitch accepted:
- Cultivate relationships through social media. Social media will move media relations faster, but time is still required. As Gini says, “Media relations hasn’t changed. We just have different tools at our disposal.”
- Use email to make your pitches. Most journalists don’t want to receive pitches on social because they fear being scooped. In addition, they often prefer to have a reference archive, a thing that is difficult, if not impossible, to create on social.
- Make visuals a part of your pitches. Some news outlets make visuals the responsibility of their reporters, many of whom don’t have the time or the skillset to produce quality images. If you have the ability, say that you will accompany an accepted pitch with images or video.
- Pitch radio stations with clients who have large social followings. Radio stations have joined the digital era and are looking for ways to integrate social into their programs. If you believe radio would benefit your client, pitch radio stations. It’s a win-win for both parties.
- Offer research that supports or contradicts trending news. If you have a reputable source, share it in your pitch. Journalists are just as skeptical as the next person when it comes to receiving a pitch about a trending news item. They need and desire evidence.
- Use multimedia in your pitches. This point is similar to number three, but multimedia offers even more options. Multimedia can be used as “behind-the-scenes” content or be repurposed for other stories and online spaces.
- Help promote stories by sharing them with your network. If a journalist you wish to pitch writes a story with applicability to you or a client, share it. Similarly, if your pitch is accepted, share the finalized piece with your own networks and on your client’s. The journalist and your client will thank you.
Gini says the current state of the media is just the beginning. Traditional and digital will continue to merge, resulting in experimentation with digital in general and native advertising in particular. Mobile will also take on a more pivotal role and make news simultaneously local and global.