Social PR isn’t just about reader engagement – the journalism industry depends on social media channels for story ideas

Social PR Shapes Journalism Before the Story is Written

Being marketers ourselves who work with other marketing and PR folks from around the world, we talk a lot about the convergence of social media and PR, and how the conversational nature and word-of-mouth engagement goal of social media marketing has irretrievably changed public relations from a monologue model to a dialogue model.

What we haven’t talked as much about is how social media has changed the workflow processes of journalists themselves.  Sure, we all know that reporters use Twitter… but did you know that a full 81% of journalists are using it?

A new study from the Cihan Group compiled some of the more interesting Social PR trends.  Among them were a few surprises, the biggest one being that 89% of journalists research their story ideas on blogs.

Citizen Journalists Help Modern Journalism

What’s so interesting about that statistic is the retroactive view of what we were talking about 5-10 years ago: at SXSW in 2008, I remember more than one session in which PR pros gathered in rooms to try to understand whether the “citizen journalist” nature of bloggers and the new advent of “social media influencers” (Twitter was really new at that point) were a threat to journalism, and how PR pros should handle them.  Should we be engaging with them – and how? How were we to deal with a population of writers not beholden to the same code of conduct as real journalists? Or were they “real” journalists?  And what did that mean?

As social media and PR have continued to merge and marketing has evolved, we’ve come to understand that online influencers are important for brand advocacy, regardless as to whether that person is writing for a traditional publication or simply has a robust but engaged Twitter following.  The Cihan study would indicate that, as of 2014, there is a firm handshake between traditional journalists, bloggers and social influencers: reporters can look to blogs and social channels to both find and research stories, and find their own angles for stories.

Journalists and PR pros actually have the same job: to communicate a message that is understood and appreciated by the people who see it. That being the case, it makes perfect sense that journalists would do a little social listening to see what sort of messaging might resonate with the public.

Bloggers Can Help Our Content Marketing Efforts

The rise of content marketing has led to a lot of articles being written about brands being publishing houses, and our content marketing workflow can be somewhat like that of a traditional journalist.  One challenge, of course, is that nobody can be in more than one place at one time – and that is why a holistic overview of what’s going on in the blogosphere can be critically important for other writers.  Having the largest blog search engine in the world, with 30M+ blogs and about 20K more indexed per day, our social PR software has always been a great way to find the right person (whether that person be a blogger or a traditional journalist) to get the word out about our stories; this new study has hammered home the point that checking out what other writers are writing about is also incredibly valuable from a content marketing perspective.   Getting a good big picture view does require some technological help: good social monitoring software provides a truly holistic view of what folks are saying, and that gives anyone with this sort of tool the unique ability to understand more than the 140 character viewpoint of what’s going on in the world.