06 June 2011

What’s the influence of social media on PR and journalist relationships?

A recent survey analysing the rise of social media within journalism caught my eye. Over 900 journalists were surveyed by Darly Willcox Publishing and the results have been analysed in a white paper by FT journalist Martin Stabe.

According to the survey, 75% of journalists claim social media is important for their work with 90% using it more than they did a year ago.

But what got me most interested was what the survey has to say about the effect of social media on how PR professionals and journalists interact.

A finding of the report is that ‘communicating with PR professionals currently has a relatively insignificant role in journalists’ use of social media. What’s more 44% of journalists believe  PR professionals aren’t making the most of the medium.

Reasons cited included some PR professionals failing to understand the need to build genuine relationships using social media, and lack of resources to respond quickly to journalists.

Working in PR, the value social media is immeasurable. We take pride in developing and maintaining relationships with journalists but traditional methods of contact remain essential. That’s what PRs said in the same survey with use of email and phone significantly exceeding contact by social media. Of the social media PRs use most to communicate with the media.

Social media is paramount in keeping engaged with journalists yet unless combined with traditional communications, from picking up the phone, to face to face drinks, no amount of Tweeting someone would be effective. It is all about maintaining the right balance of new and traditional ways of engaging the press.