I have been busy this week at Prohibition HQ, reading this and that, but something that really stood out to me was the interesting annual study on Social Journalism which is conducted each year by Cision and Canterbury Christ Church University. Each year the results chart the changing ways journalists and media professionals use social media for their work and in their communication with us, the good old PR professionals.

The report isn’t commissioned just in this country as it gathers data from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Australia. So it’s very interesting to check out, as each year, different trends seem to be emerging and I like to see if anything is new. Here are my highlights:

  1. Social media is a routine tool for most journalists across all surveyed countries, but their use of it is now stagnating.
  2. About half of respondents in each country think they need social media to do their work and that social media has lightened their workload.
  3. Journalists use a variety of networks – not just Twitter.
  4. Email continues to dominate how journalists prefer to be contacted, but social media is gathering pace.
  5. Half of the respondents surveyed agree that social media is undermining journalistic values.

So the most interesting point for me in here is that pitching by email is still the most popular way for journalists to be contacted. Over the last two years, email (81 per cent) has apparently remained the preferred contact method for PR and media professionals. Telephone has stayed in second place with almost a third of journalists (30 per cent) selecting it. Journalists have consistently stated they would like to see less contact via telephone, although this gap is now shrinking. The use of social media as a contact method is now preferred by just 22 per cent of journalists, down from 24 per cent in 2013. So are journalists are now saying they want to be pitched to on the phone less? Yes they may indeed not prefer it, but in my experience the telephone is the tool that delivers the best results, as the team get instant feedback and can adjust the selling strategy accordingly. If you are running an agency that just emails journalists, you are not going to last long in public relations – this job is about relationships and although social media can help garner them, the telephone is often the best for continuing these relationships and securing that piece your client wants in The Guardian.

So as an industry, we are left with a dilemma, annoy the journalists by calling them on the phone or email them and get no result, ultimately getting fired and going bust. What would you choose? I know what I believe.

Read the full report here.

Journalists Use of Social Media_Design_Packaged-01

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.