by Heidi Mayer, Account Executive, & Billy Russell, Client Services Representative, Business Wire Phoenix
On Friday, September 24, Business Wire Phoenix hosted a lunch seminar that provided local companies with an opportunity to meet the media and discuss how reporting has evolved amid the popularity of social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Chad Graham with The Arizona Republic, Keith Yaskin with FOX 10 and Shawn Martin from ABC15 News discussed how social media has affected traditional news reporting while Cindy Kim of JDA Software provided her own unique insight on pitching stories from a public relations perspective. The seminar was moderated by our own Regional Manager Grant Armendariz.
Here are some key insights from the discussion:
Why they use social media
Both Kim and Yaskin said that they use social media as a tool to build relationships. According to Kim, it’s a way for her to not only reach the decision-makers – analysts, bloggers and journalists – but also to raise brand awareness with her clients and prospects. Martin talked about a new show on ABC 15 that will experiment with integrating social media and news, with the goal of giving the audience a voice. His greatest challenge is to get viewers to interact on three screens: TV, computer and mobile. Graham mentioned that AZ Central has been using this year to develop a strategy for using social media and train reporters on its use. He’s found social media an effective means for the immediate exchange of information, and has also discovered benefits to geo sharing.
Changing the way people approach the media
In today’s environment, Martin pointed out, the PR professional who has to make a pitch is often at a loss: social media is so new that there are no rules or guidelines to using it effectively. However, there are many right ways to go about it. Graham made the point that good stories are always going to be good and will get coverage no matter what. He considers social media as more of a tactic than an overall strategy, and sees it being used to make an end run around reporters to get word out on a particular topic immediately. Kim said that social media has broadened her approach and allowed her to be more creative with traditional channels. She added that it’s also created some great relationships and made possible good conversations to create better fits for stories. Yaskin agreed, saying that relationships matter. He’d be much more likely to help out someone he’s made a connection with through social media than a random pitch off the street.
The rise of citizen journalism
While the rapid rise of citizen journalism is sometimes considered a threat to traditional sources of news, the three journalists on the panel all agreed that they see it as a positive change. Martin said that AZ Central is embracing the trend, allowing audiences to drive the news. Because reporters can’t be everywhere, ordinary bloggers and tweeters can play an important part in bringing stories to the public’s attention. Yaskin, meanwhile, finds himself becoming a citizen journalist. People aren’t willing to wait for the news anymore, with so many platforms available to them, so he acts as a “mobile newsroom,” reporting on additional aspects of the story (i.e. A reporter was being mocked by a fireman for wearing too much makeup). From the PR perspective, Kim said that her company sees this trend as an opportunity as well. When a cyberhack story broke, JDA started a “lessons learned” blog which was then covered as part of the story. However, Graham, while excited about “man on the street news,” warns that it should be taken with a grain of salt. Journalistic standards still apply, which means: always check the facts.
What not to send through social media
All four panelists had suggestions for anyone using social media to disseminate information. Kim recommended thinking about personal branding when posting, because how a person communicates is just as important as what that person communicates. The three journalists talked about the kinds of stories they didn’t want to be pitched through social media: immediate, breaking news, which should always be called in (Martin), anything that’s already been covered (Graham) and any legal information (Yaskin). Yaskin also cautioned about tweeting story ideas that others can figure out and pitch for their own benefit. Other than that, he said, anything can be sent.
Here’s a terrific video clip from panelist Keith Yaskin at FOX 10, speaking on how social media has changed the way he interacts with public relations professionals:
Thank you to all those in attendance and especially our panel for a lively and entertaining discussion about this new trend. We look forward to our next event in Arizona, Business Wire Holiday Open House, which gives everyone an opportunity to meet our newsroom and learn about our product offerings while enjoying a festive holiday breakfast. Look for your invitation and don’t forget to RSVP!
For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.
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