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Understanding a journalism landscape transformed by social media

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Myriad forces, whether economic, political, or technological, have delivered a sea change to the journalism industry.

Long-established venerable brands, such as The New York Times, have weathered financial woes and staff cuts to arrive at Q2 2017 profits triple what they were at the same time last year, thanks to increases in digital subscriptions and a headline-churning Trump administration. New players have arrived on the market, such as millennial-targeted Vice, which launched in 1994 and was recently valued at $5.7 billion. Vice is now looking to expand into new geographic markets.

Whether old guard or hot-shot disruptor new arrival, many media organizations, often faced with having to do more with less, are leveraging an arsenal of digital communications tools and platforms that can disseminate news worldwide in an instant, create two-way communications with audiences, and promote a journalist’s work and personal brand.

Beyond technology, today’s journalists are more keenly aware of the need to extend their reach by building strong relationships with industry experts and influencers and PR professionals.

For journalists, the use of technology is ubiquitous. According to Cision’s 2017 Global Social Journalism Study, 42% of journalists use more than fives types of social media regularly, while 19% engage with their audience on social media every hour.

For the complete study click here

But what is most important to understand when pitching and building relationships with journalists is what social media platforms are most valuable to them.

Since 2012, the first year the Global Social Journalism Study was produced, the popularity of social networks such as Facebook and Google+ has increased from 83% to 90%, while the use of microblogs such as Twitter and Snapchat has decreased from 77% in 2012 to 67% in 2017.

Social network use on the rise among journalists

Source: Cision’s 2017 Global Social Journalism Study

A percentage of the uptick in Facebook usage may stem in part from the platform’s stepped-up efforts to court journalists. At the start of the year, the company kicked off the Facebook Journalism Project – a long-term initiative designed to ensure the social platform collaborates better with journalists to create new future tools, provide better training on Facebook products and services, and work with journalists to better educate audiences about the growing problem of fake news.

And in an interesting turn that may increase its future relevance among journalists, Snapchat has been ramping up its news offering. Earlier in the year The New York Times rolled out a daily edition on Snapchat’s Discover. In July, NBC News launched a twice-daily news show on the platform aimed at reaching a younger audience, and in June The Daily Telegraph began publishing a daily edition on Snapchat featuring news, politics, and opinions.

Also, while the Cision Social Journalism Study reveals that journalists’ reliance on Twitter may have dropped off in the last few years, with more than 500 million tweets sent every day, it remains an unbeatable platform for journalists to disseminate breaking news, find insights and story ideas, market work, and build personal brands.

Serious relationship

Strong relationships with sources and their audience have always been tentpoles for any successful journalist’s career and, according to the study, journalists cited experts and industry and professional contacts as their two most important sources for information. From 2016 to 2017, the number of journalists who preferred to get information from experts grew 5%, while those who preferred seeking insight from industry and professional contacts held steady at 51%.

Source: Cision’s 2017 Global Social Journalism Study

What is concerning to PR and marcomm pros? Just 36% of journalists preferred to get their information from PR sources, press releases, and newswires compared to 42% last year. Comms practitioners are ideally positioned to serve as a vital resource for time-strapped and resource-challenged journalists. With a keen understanding of journalist’s social media usage, pitch preferences, and areas of expertise, PR pros can reverse those declining numbers.

The Cision survey also showed the biggest decline year over year came from journalists who relied on other news outlets to get their information. That number fell from 25% to 16%, a drop likely fueled by the fake news phenomenon plaguing the industry.

The study also sheds light on:

  • Journalists’ six distinct social media personalities
  • Their concerns over reliability and quality of content from PR professionals
  • From Instagram to Vimeo – what platforms are journalists using the most?

For the complete study click here.



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