Twitter sends 140 character stories around the world instantly. News broadcasts send 30 second stories around the region during the five, seven and ten o’clock reports. News broadcasting is hardly instantaneous.
An interesting situation came to me last Wednesday during the Public Relations Student Society of America meeting. Our guest speaker was Cary Lieberman, the executive director of Greenhill Humane Society. He discussed what it’s like to work in nonprofit public relations. Greenhill Humane Society has a strong media presence throughout Eugene and most news broadcast networks would cover any story from Greenhill. Until Greenhill Humane Society’s social media became popular.
Greenhill Humane Society’s Twitter profile grew a healthy number of followers because their tweets were of events, success stories and cute new pet arrivals.
Greenhill Humane Society’s news broke over Twitter the instant it happened. This left the local news broadcast stations in the dust. The local news broadcast stations quit running stories of the humane society because they want to break the story.
Lieberman then slowed his Twitter presence so the news broadcasts could catch up. After a little time news broadcast continued to cover Greenhill Humane Society’s news.
After hearing this story I finally understood the effects that social media have on traditional media news. Papers take time to design the layout, print and distribute. Television broadcast have to film, edit and wait for their time slot. Tweets are written and sent, and the world has access to the information.
Twitter grew 1,382 percent from 2008 to 2009 according to a Nielsen statistic. Facebook only grew 228 percent in the same time period.
For example, the NBA’s trade window was open last week and sports enthusiasts glued themselves to their cell phones, computers and televisions watching ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. On the other hand the Twitter community was exploding with tweets instantly after these networks mentioned a trade or rumor. If Twitter continues to grow at this exponential rate, these sports news sources will be obsolete.
Twitter can reach a vast number of people instantly. If a post goes viral the message can be seen around the world in minutes. The only way for ESPN to stay in the game now is to become a leader in the Twitter sports community.
Social media will eventually decrease the number of channels a public relations practitioner needs to use. Companies like Business Wire are already reducing the number of media channels public relations practitioners use. This trend will only continue because of Google’s algorithmic improvements, which now search for content in public social media profiles. Information will be easier to find on social media sites, and traditional media will become obsolete.