You can’t argue with the stats. A recent survey by media monitoring service Cisionrevealed a whopping 97% of UK journalists are using social media regularly for their work.
Overall, the survey found that journalists use a variety of social media tools, but microblogging platforms such as Twitter are most popular. Most commonly, social media is used for publishing and distributing journalists’ work with 89% of the surveyed journalists using social media in this way.
So what does this mean for PR professionals?
Perhaps surprisingly, the survey discovered that contact between PRs and journalists is still mainly based on traditional forms of communication, such as email/fax (97%), press releases (86%) and face-to-face contact (48%).
However, if journalists are using social media on a regular basis, PRs need to capitalise on these channels as a way of communicating with the journalists, and incorporate social media activity into their media relations strategy.
Social media is also a valuable channel to target the end consumer, as well as journalists. If the content is relevant and achieves cut-through from other material online, it can engage directly with the target audience. For the PR professional, this is an opportunity to go beyond the press release, and think creatively. This can mean the use of videos, images and audio to tell the story rather than plain text, as multi-media content is generally thought to be more engaging.
However, when using social media, it is important to remember these channels are not a one way street. It’s necessary to have an element of interaction. This ensures the recipient, whether journalist or consumer, isn’t passive but actively engages with the organisation and its message.
This could include providing direct feedback or sharing the content with others. Feedback is a valuable opportunity for a company to gather the views of its audience. Likewise, sharing content is a powerful tool for a company, with 90% of people surveyed claiming they trust brand recommendations from people they know.
Social media has evolved the way people communicate, share information and lead their professional and personal lives. It represents an opportunity for PRs to engage with journalists and the end-consumer in a way that has never been achieved before. With 79% of journalists generally agreeing that their relationship with their audience is changing because of social media, isn’t it time you got involved?
 Social Journalism Study 2011 – Cision Europe and Canterbury Christ Church University (UK)