The Segregation of Social Media from Traditional Media – Why You Shouldn’t Do It

 When it comes to social media – journalists are getting confusing signs.

In the last quarter of 2009, - the Bulldog Reporter/TEKgroup International 2009 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices  surveyed over 2300 journalists and does so on an annual basis to discover what is changing in the field.  The report is rich in content to demonstrate trends in journalism and had several insights into the increasing role of social media in the composition of stories by journalists.  Yet amazingly, organizations are not transitioning very well in response to these trends.  

The report found that nearly half of all journalists reported going to a corporate website at least once a week to get information, but hat more than half of them found that it is difficult once there to find the contact information for the organization's media representatives.

Here was what the report stated about trends in social media use:

  • More than 75% of journalists read one or more blog, with 32% saying that they regularly read five or more blogs to keep up with the subject matter of their beat;
  • 46.5% of the respondents now use Twitter when researching stories
  • 23% of the journalists reported that they subscribe to five or more RSS feeds

I went to six of the largest pharmaceutical company sites to see how they were positioned vis a vis these trends.  

All of them had a media center or newsroom listed on the home page.  All of them had media contacts listed on that page, meaning that they were only two clicks away and nearly all of them listed names with a phone number, though one did not.  

But one thing was striking by its nearly universal absence – links to the company's social media outlets.  A few of the companies had links to their RSS feeds located at their media center.  One listed their blog with their media contacts.  One listed a Twitter feed.  Only one company – AstraZeneca – had a page that I found easily that listed all of its social media outlets, but curiously this was kept separate and apart from the media center.   It was in the About AstraZeneca section.  

In short, most companies are making journalists hunt for the links, rather than making them apparent in the news center.  It is perhaps characteristic of the fact that many still don't regard social media as a part of the greater communications world, in spite of the fact that the eyeballs of the target audiences have moved on.  

One organization did stand out, though in the opposite way, interestingly enough.  The Food and Drug Administration home page, which is very busy, does not appear to have a link to media contacts.  The home page does, however, have a link to Interactive Media that then supplies you with the full list of the Twitter feeds (there are 5), podcasts, the YouTube channel and the blog.  If you want to talk to a media representative, however, you have to dig deeper.  Ironic.  

Journalists are not segregating their sources.  They are getting information from social media and from traditional means when putting together a story.  Why, then, would any organization separate out its social media resources from traditional media resources when supporting a journalist in developing a story.  It is time to bring the social media assets out of the cold.  

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