Journalists Actually Want More Social Media Pitches

A few weeks ago we asked whether PR should pitch journalists directly via Twitter and got a very mixed response. Now the third annual “Social Journalism Study” performed by Cision seems to confirm that, where pitches are concerned, we’re an industry in flux: for now, at least, the vast majority will still be delivered via the digital equivalent of snail mail.

The least surprising conclusion drawn from the study (available for download here) is that 82% of journalists would like their PR contacts to use email. There’s a bit more to this one, though: it seems that a large share of participants would also appreciate more contact via social.

Further conclusions after the jump, of course…

Cision classifies the largest group of participating journos as “Observers”, who are “lighter users” relying on social to source, publish and network. And yet…

  • 53% of them have more than 500 followers
  • 55% spend 1-2 hours on social each day (for work purposes, not meme pics)
  • 79% use microblogs (foremost of which is obviously Twitter)

The social media “Skeptics” are all but extinct: their number dropped from 31% to 9% over the last year alone.

At the same time, journalists still aren’t sure about whether social media will have a net positive effect on the work they do. In fact, 41% say they’re “ambivalent”, and the number who believe that social has had a positive effect on their work went from 54% to 40%. Pretty big drop there.

That said, some have embraced social as the New Way of Doing Things. Cision classifies these “Architects” as the “movers and shakers” who spend more time using social for work, engage more often via blog posts, comment threads etc., and are more open to interacting with PR contacts on social channels.

In the most important category, “Relationship with Public Relations”, we find that:

  • The Architects were the only group citing PR as their favorite source for a story (and that’s very important)
  • 47% of all participants are currently contacted via phone vs. 19% via social, but…
  • 33% would prefer to be contacted via phone and 25% would prefer to be contacted via social. Also…
  • The number of those who would like to be contacted by PR via social was higher than the number of those who are currently contacted by PR via social in every single group(!!)

Here’s the most important quote:

The conclusions as we see them are fairly obvious: follow relevant journalists on social, figure out how they use it, and interact with them accordingly. A tall order, no doubt—but that’s the evolving “Art of the Pitch” for you.

What do you take from these findings, readers? (Click here for the infographic.)

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.