July Program Recap

LMA-LA July 2012 Presents

The “New” Newsroom: Social Media’s Impact on Newsrooms

By Amy Spach, AS Written Communications

Past NewsroomHollywood’s fascination with newsrooms has brought us such movie gems as “All the President’s Men,” “Broadcast News” and the recent HBO series “Newsroom.”  While stories about the people who tell our stories are a mainstay, technology is changing the way fictional and real newsrooms operate.  Out with telexes and newswire machines.  In with interactive boards touting election results and Twitter’s rise as the first stop for breaking news. 
So it was fitting to hear from journalists, who are based in newsrooms covering Hollywood and events west of the Mississippi River, on the impact of social media.  The discussion took place during a July luncheon co-sponsored by LMA-LA and the Business Marketing Association’s Southern California Chapter.

Program moderator Tracy Williams, President and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications, turned the table and questioned panelists Ron Grover - L.A. bureau chief for Reuters, Rachel Brown - CNN’s deputy L.A. bureau chief, Anthony McCartney - entertainment writer for the Associated Press in L.A., and Peter Pae, the Los Angeles Times technology editor.

To help legal marketers better understand how to secure the attention of the press for their law firms and attorneys, the panel presented a snapshot of social media usage in today’s newsroom:

  • Today's NewsroomJournalists do monitor social media and blogs daily.  These postings and conversations are an unending source of story ideas.  Reporters and editors vary in their social media preferences.  None of the panelists subscribed to law firm Twitter accounts, but they do refer to specialized, niche blogs, including law firm ones, to find experts.  Journalists, editors and producers are always looking for an interesting blog, so let them know about the ones your firm publishes.
  •  Thinking about pitching a story to a reporter on Twitter?  Anyone able to reduce a pitch to 140 characters is earning his/her keep, according to the panel.  When exclusivity or sensitivity is involved, Twitter is open and public and may not be the right platform for the pitch.
  •   Some reporters use Facebook, others less so.  Many journalists find FB, and LinkedIn to a lesser extent, useful tools to locate people and their bios, especially if it’s difficult to find an email address.  Some reporters mix their personal and professional “friends,” abandoning any pretense of privacy in the modern age.  “There is no such thing as privacy anymore,” said CNN’s Brown.
  •    Videos, Google+ and Pinterest.  Reporters are unlikely to play back any videos you send, and less likely to use them.  Watching a video is time consuming and third-party video usage can be problematic.  Infographics generate the same lukewarm reception.  There’s minimal enthusiasm for Google’s online community and most panelists predicted Facebook’s purchase of the female-centric Pinterest.

How to Break Through the Noise.  Journalists, just like the rest of us, are overwhelmed by the clutter and cacophony of social media, and the challenge of keeping up with all of it.  For legal marketers and PR professionals, the task is to break through that noise.  Reporters suggest taking a stand, expressing a viewpoint, and developing a niche or specialty.

Blogs with a narrow focus frequently originate news and developments, which reporters then push out to a mainstream audience.  For example, when a journalist begins covering a copyright protection battle, they will Google to find strong blogs and lively conversations on the topic, and to identify quotable and quantifiable experts in the area.  If blogs and comments do not appear in search engine results and Twitter, the journalist is likely to turn to someone who is on those platforms.

Given all the tech tools available, what really is the best way to catch a reporter’s attention?  That has not changed much.  Deliver a good story, one with an interesting angle that is not solely self-serving.  Then, send an email or make a telephone call.  Learn each reporter’s contact preference.

And if time permits and the news won’t turn old, you might send an old-fashioned, printed press pack.  The novelty retro-factor cuts through the newsroom buzz and provides reporters with a real-life desktop reminder.  Take that digital media.

Amy Spach uses her newsroom experience to create marketing and business development content for lawyers and law firms.
Contact her at AS Written Communications, amy@aswrittencom.com or 323.876.6374.

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