Why Twitter Matters for Media

Incredibly, there still seem to be some people in the media and PR game who question the power of Twitter as a source and a tool for the media and publicists.  To put the question beyond doubt in the affirmative, I read a brilliant explanation by the esteemed Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian newspaper, in his address as part of the Andrew Olle media lecture series on the topic of why Twitter matters for media organisations.

In his speech he mentioned 15 reasons why Twitter is important for the media to know, understand and use in order to source and to generate new and meaningful content.  Those reasons are as follows:

1) It’s an amazing form of distribution. It’s instantaneous. Its reach can be immensely far and wide.

2) It’s where things happen FIRST.  There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies — to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get.

3) As a search engine, it rivals Google. Twitter is, in some respects, better than Google in finding stuff out, through the use of search term algorhythms.

4) It’s a formidable aggregation tool. You set Twitter to search out information on any subject you want and it will often bring you the best information there is. It becomes your personalised news feed.

5) It’s a great reporting tool.  Many of the best reporters are now habitually using Twitter as an aid to find information. This can be simple requests for knowledge which other people already know, have to hand, or can easily find. The so-called wisdom of crowds comes into play: the ‘they know more than we do’ theory.

6) It’s a fantastic form of marketing.  You’ve written your piece or blog. You may well have involved others in the researching of it. Now you can let them all know it’s there, so that they come to your site.

7) It’s a series of common conversations. As well as reading what you’ve written and spreading the word, people can respond.

8 ) It’s more diverse. Traditional media allowed a few voices in. Twitter allows anyone.

9) It changes the tone of writing. A good conversation involves listening as well as talking. You will want to listen as well as talk. You will want to engage and be entertaining.

10) It’s a level playing field. A recognised “name” may initially attract followers in reasonable numbers. But if they have nothing interesting to say they will talk into an empty room. The energy in Twitter gathers around people who can say things crisply and entertainingly, even though they may be “unknown”, or not known…yet.

11) It has different news values. People on Twitter quite often have an entirely different sense of what is and what isn’t news. What seems obvious to journalists in terms of the choices we make is quite often markedly different from how others see it – both in terms of the things we choose to cover and the things we ignore.

12) It has a long attention span. Set your Tweetdeck to follow a particular keyword or issue or subject and you may well find that the attention span of Twitterers puts newspapers to shame. They will be ferreting out and aggregating information on the issues that concern them long after the caravan of professional journalists has moved on.

13) It creates communities. Or, rather communities form themselves around particular issues, people, events, artifacts, cultures, ideas, subjects or geographies.

14) It changes notions of authority. Instead of waiting to receive the ‘expert’ opinions of others – mostly us, journalists — Twitter shifts the balance to so-called ‘peer to peer’ authority.

15) It is an agent of change. As this ability of people to combine around issues and to articulate them grows, so it will have increasing effect on people in authority. Increasingly, social media will challenge conventional politics and, for instance, the laws relating to expression and speech.

To read the speech in full, or to hear it in full, click here

Publicity QueenYours in PR


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