Promotional feature - Connections in cyberspace

In the latest PRWeek video at our guests discuss the effect of today's digital media landscape on the relationship between journalists and comms professionals.

In the past a daily newspaper journalist would have a daily deadline. In today's digital world, however, the deadline is now - creating an array of opportunities for comms professionals.

The starting point is to understand the increased workload journalists now face, Electric Airwaves journalist Lucy McDonald explains.

'The deadline for the internet is now - you need to file straight away,' she says. 'If you're on a paper you're likely to be expected to blog, often. And stories from around the world are breaking on Twitter, which must then be followed up.'

Social media, however, also provide journalists with an additional tool for producing their stories. 'Twitter and Facebook are great ways to get case studies and contact PROs,' she adds.

The challenge for comms professionals is understanding how best to capitalise on this and one organisation actively doing so is British Pathe.

'Quite often PROs aren't necessarily giving a great story, let's be honest. So you've got to give something else that can help the journalist further,' says British Pathe head of digital marketing Mark Harris.

Aside from alerts, website analytics can be used to identify who is linking to your site. This in turn highlights who is talking about you, as these links will include journalists or bloggers: 'You then go back to them and say: "I see you are talking about us, would you like something more?" It's a good approach because they've initiated it, albeit unwittingly.'

British Pathe also uses social media to build relationships with journalists. While filming of The King's Speech was under way, the company used social networks to approach journalists to alert them to news footage in its archive of King George VI speaking publicly. The New York Times picked up on this, showed the footage to Colin Firth and reported his comments, creating huge traffic for the archive.

Often, as a broadcast journalist, you do not have the pictures you need, adds McDonald. Or, perhaps, though a lot of time has been spent making an electronic press kit, the contents aren't what you need. Which is where organisations that have made content available via their own YouTube channel or Flickr can gain an upper hand.

Above all, however, organisations must think digitally.

'I've been given brilliant stories from a major high street retailer and said I can get that on to Guardian Online but they weren't interested because they only wanted to see it in a newspaper,' says McDonald.

Which, for British Pathe at least, misses the point. 'We don't necessarily want column inches but we want digital presence, because that's what gives us a great link from an authoritative site, which creates great SEO,' Harris points out. 'If we got the front page of the biggest newspaper in the world but nothing on the website we would consider that a failure.'


Lucy McDonald Journalist, Electric Airwaves

Mark Harris Head of digital marketing, British Pathe

Host Philip Smith, head of content solutions, PRWeek

Top tips on maximising social media relationship with journalists
1. Keep any approach relevant
2. Be concise: not just in terms of words but other materials
3. Be proactive: monitor Twitter feeds for calls for help on stories
4. Start a relationship using social media to identify who's talking
about you, then nurture it
5. Once you are actively using social media in this way, keep it up
6. Redefine 'success'; great SEO comes from digital presence.

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