We recently released the second of two surveys to get the scoop on how stations are integrating social media into their news operations with findings from radio stations in the top-50 markets. We did the same survey in the Summer of 2009, 50 stations were asked about this relatively new medium that nearly half of the newsrooms (45%) used Twitter and Facebook at the time. Today, that number more than doubled to 96 percent.
Further, station personnel confirm that social media is here to stay. Sixty-five percent of stations believe that social media helps break news faster; fifty-eight percent believe it enhances listenership; and sixty-two percent say it provides another broadcast medium. This is compared to 2009, where 30 percent reported that keeping pace with technology and using social media builds listenership loyalty and keeps listeners tuned-in throughout the day.
Where a trend has been reversed is with “citizen journalists.” In 2009, the majority of radio newsrooms (56%) relied on social media for story leads from “citizen journalists,” and 34 percent of radio newsrooms said social media not only provided leads, but also possible sources of information for news stories. Today, only 31 percent use citizen journalists, down 25 percent from 2009. So while use of social media among stations has exploded over the past two years, the use in terms of news leads has actually declined.
Our findings showed that 100 percent of the newsrooms we surveyed said they do not believe social media will ever replace mainstream media, but will assist in the competitive information environment by breaking news first or getting an “exclusive.” In fact, one station intimated that social media allows the public to feel as if it is participating in the news, by being able to provide tips and take part in a dialogue about news stories, with some developments being reported first via Twitter or Facebook, then on air.
How this information can benefit public relations professionals pitching stations is to keep their social media element in mind. If stations have a YouTube channel, provide reporters with some video to enhance their presence. If stations have a Facebook page, provide them with giveaways or other promotions they can use to drive listeners to their page. If reporters or stations are on Twitter, follow them, and find out more about the stories they cover, so you can fine-tune your pitch, build the relationships and get information out in a speedy way.
According to radio newsrooms, the take home message on the future of social media seems to be that while social media won’t replace traditional media, traditional media and social media will no longer exist as separate entities. They will continue to work in tandem to provide audiences with the news they want on the device they want it. Speed and relationships are the name of the game.

posted by Lynn Harris Medcalf