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Survey: Journalists Talk Twitter, How They Participate and How To Get Retweeted

Julia Ehrenfeld

Journalists Using TwitterI’m what you would classify as a Twitter observer – I look but I don’t touch. In response to my inactivity, I’m frequently told by digital experts “use it or lose it,” but I like my omnipresent view of the Twittersphere. It comes in handy to quickly ascertain the score of a game or the cause of train delays.

In the vein of self improvement, I’ve been asking myself what more could I do on Twitter? One obvious answer is engaging with journalists. Which lead me to my next questions – how do journalists use Twitter?

With the help of my colleague Cary Ruterman, I conducted an unscientific, but telling, audit of reporters’ social media habits. We spoke with journalists from print, online, broadcast and wire outlets and all of them focused on finance (that is kind of what we are known for here at Prosek).

Here is what we asked and found...

How do you use Twitter (professionally, for your reporting)?
All our respondents utilize it in almost in the same way: to monitor news, to connect with sources and to see what the industry and competitors alike are "talking about."

That seems like a lot to rely on Twitter for. How does it really impact you reporting?
Almost all reporters audited consider Twitter to be a key, daily source for reporting with one describing Twitter an “essential resource.” One reluctant reporter admitted that “it is becoming more useful to a degree.”

Now I’m convinced it is important, but who do you follow to get all this valuable information?
Not too surprising, reporters are following influential political, economic and market newsmakers. In addition to relevant figures in the industry, a small group of reporters cited specifically seeking out “interesting personalities.” When deciding who and who not to follow, most reporters mentioned the importance of tweet frequency (not too much and not too little).

I think my clients are influential, do you follow them?
Seven out of 10 journalists follow companies in the industry they cover. Only a small percentage of reporters that have a firm policy against it. 

Are you going to take it personally if these companies don’t follow you back?
While only a small percentage of journos said it is important that those they follow follow them back, eight out of 10 reporters said that it is appreciated. They noted that the importance of their sources following them back was central to giving them an opportunity to interact.

What are you putting out there to your followers? Is Twitter just an avenue for you to promote your own articles?
Seven out of 10 journalists firmly replied that they retweet more than just their own articles and those of their colleagues. A small group of participating reporters said that they mostly do, and an even smaller group specified that they only do because they have the most confidence in that content.

Good to hear you are mostly open to retweeting third-party ideas and opinions. How do you decide what to retweet?
Across the board, reporters said they retweet information that is interesting and useful to their readers. A few mentioned the need for the content to be in line with their coverage and beat.

Would you consider retweeting companies?
Nine out of ten respondents said they would retweet content from a company. Respondents cited the need for the content to be “newsworthy,” “interesting” and “useful.” Most stressed that they are much less likely to retweet "self-serving" tweets and will not act as "marketers for the company."

The Conclusion
The key takeaway is that journalists are out there and they’re watching you. So companies should put out thoughtful and unique perspectives on topics of interest to their industry. The best ideas might be rewarded with amplification.

Would love to hear more from you, our readers. If you’re a PR pro, share your experiences interacting with journalists on Twitter.  If you’re a reporter, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the above too! End of Story

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