Organizations and Stakeholders


Using social media to build relationships with journalists

At my internship at Frederick County Government in Maryland, one of the valuable lessons my supervisor stressed to me was about media relations. She introduced me to the local reporter that covers the county government news whom she had been working with for some time.

As corporate communicators, journalists are key stakeholders. Though some people argue newspapers and other traditional news media are becoming a thing of the past, reporting news itself is in absolutely no danger. Journalists are not going away, they are just writing different media.

We corporate communicators are still counting on pitching journalists to share information about our company. Now, we can use online resources, such as social media, to build a relationship with journalists.  We have the opportunity to give them valuable material to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization in their stories, online or otherwise.

In a previous post, News organizations using social media, I discussed how news organizations are using social media to report the news. If they’re using social media, we can make it easier for them by giving them material that is easier to work with.

What do journalists want?

Part of building relationships with journalists is consistently giving them credible information they can use. Online journalists want rich content and multimedia to post on their news and social media sites. Here is a list of things we can pass along for a journalist to use:

Social Media Release Template.

Social Media Release Template. Shift Communications.

  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Quotes
  • Video
  • RSS feed
  • Links
  • E-mails of experts in the company

Remember, we want to make the journalist’s job of compiling information as easy as possible to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization.

How can we send this information to the journalist?

We can use our own company’s website and social media sites to post valuable content and make it easily searchable for journalists to access. Our sites can include online news rooms where we link to past releases and multimedia about our company. For individual story ideas, we can send the media a social media news release that is almost exactly like traditional news releases but includes multimedia such as b-roll, audio, and images pertaining to the story. We can use to post the social media releases such as online wire services pitchengine. We can also use our organization’s social media to pitch bloggers. Journalists can scan our Twitter page with links to our news and easily pick up story ideas.

Building a relationship with a journalist is key

In PR and corporate communication, the most valuable element of our work is being human. Our communication is still based on personal contact. Being conversational, though still professional, will aid our credibility. Journalist will know they can come to you for quality, relevant information.

For more tips on pitching to journalists online and building relationships, check out Christine Kent’s blog post “Eight Ways to befriend Journalists Via E-mail.”


News Organizations using social media

msnbc social media sign-ups

msnbc.com

I woke up this morning and as I ate breakfast, I updated myself with the happenings of the world by checking CNN. Another massive earthquake strikes — this time Chile is the victim.

The first item I clicked on was a video about an American Idol star who was in a hotel about 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. He had been sending Tweets about he earthquake since it hit. CNN kept an eye on his Tweets and shared them with its online audience. My personal Twitter page is full of Tweets about the earthquake’s rising death toll, tsunami waves in Hawaii and the like.

How are news organizations using social media?

It’s not news (pun intended), that consumers are a rising influence on any organization, and the news companies are not excluded in this trend. Traditional media sources have turned to online and mobile social media to build trust, develop relationships, and interact with audiences. For example, ABC News has its own Youtube channel where people can watch clips and comment on past news shows. On the MSNBC Web site , people can get MSNBC news sent to their mobile phone, follow it on Twitter or subscribe to its podcasts, RSS feeds or e-mail alerts.  The San Francisco Chronicle Web site links to its staff blogs on its homepage.

Who’s helping whom?

I can’t help but wonder if the news organizations or audiences are benefitting more from the adoption of social media. Personally, I usually find the updates on Twitter from news organizations to be much more helpful than even scanning through headlines on news websites. I also find that every news organizations allows people to subscribe to any kind of feed to get more people soaking in more information from the network.

Do news organizations and social media have the same core values?

On the surface, American journalism and social media have the same core value of democratization of information. Both serve as fast resources of information for the world. Where they might differ is that a core value of journalism is to give accurate, fair information to the publics. Since social media content is generated from individuals looking at their computer or mobile screen, the information is going to be perhaps less accurate and more biased. Journalists can still use social media as more resources to obtain news or just hear what their audience has to say.

News organizations have a new code of ethics for social media

In 2009, many media corporations like The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post adopted ethical guidelines for using social media like Twitter. The rules seemed to generally encompass issues such as:

  • Don’t talk about a story before it’s been published
  • Don’t talk about how a story was obtained or written
  • Don’t mix your personal life with work that will damage the organization’s reputation

To me, the list seems extremely similar to the classic Journalism code of ethics.

Long-time journalist, editor, and journalism professor in New York, Jeff Jarvis, disagrees with some of the adopted ethics policies in his blog post. He says the journalists would miss an opportunity to interact and work with the public to get news, which is the point of using social media like Twitter.

For more information on how news organizations use social media visit…

The Niemen Foundation of Journalism at Harvard blog, Let’s Talk: Journalism and Social Media.”